DELMAR, Del. – It was a crowd-pleasing, back-and-forth battle between the sport’s titans.
At the end of 50 laps around Delaware Int’l Speedway, Stewart Friesen emerged victorious from Tuesday night’s Hurlock Auto & Speed Supply Diamond State 50 after a rim-riding performance.
Friesen took home $5,000 from the posted purse, $200 as the Precision Hydraulic & Oil Halfway leader and a pair of Oakley sunglasses from Design for Vision and Sunglass Central.
“I’ll be spending a lot of time here in Delaware this month,” Friesen, 37, said after climbing to the roof of his Halmar International No. 44 big-block. “We run the (NASCAR) Truck at Dover (Del., Aug. 21) and in two weeks we are back at Georgetown (Del., for the Aug. 25 STSS event).”
The rescheduled Diamond State 50 from August drew an event record 38 STSS Modifieds to the Cathell family’s facility for the fifth Velocita-USA South Region event of 2020 for the Modifieds and fourth ’20 Crate 602 Sportsman South point race.
Friesen and rival Sheppard started the 50-lap grind from the fourth row, with Friesen seventh and Sheppard eighth.
Ryan Watt fired off the pole following the Beyea Custom Headers redraw and led the opening seven laps before Billy Pauch Jr., off the strength of two consecutive STSS South Region triumphs, powered to the top spot on lap eight.
Working the extreme inside lane, Sheppard made it to the front before Friesen, taking the lead on the 13th tour of the half-mile track.
On lap 14, Friesen arrived in second and began stalking Sheppard trying different lanes on the tacky Delaware clay. Friesen found the very topside of the speedway to his liking, and after an extended wheel-to-wheel battle, forged ahead on the 23rd circuit.
The race was far from over, however.
Negotiating lapped traffic after lap 30 allowed Sheppard to reel Friesen back in; and at one point put the nose of the Hurlock Auto & Speed Supply No. 9s back into the top spot.
Friesen’s high-side momentum carried him back to a lead he would never relinquish despite a final restart with nine laps remaining.
The win for the Sprakers, N.Y., driver was his second in the Diamond State 50 having previously won the event in 2016 and series-leading 24th career victory.
Friesen now becomes eligible for the Stockley Tavern Delaware Double-Down $2,000 cash bonus if he can come back and win the Georgetown STSS event on Aug. 25.
Sheppard saw his streak of back-to-back Diamond State 50 triumphs end with a runner-up finish worth $3,050. Jimmy Horton rode the topside of the track from 15th to complete the podium with the Halmar International No. 43.
Andy Bachetti of Sheffield, Mass., advanced from 20th to fourth. Danny Bouc climbed from 12th to finish fifth in the Craig and Leslie Pondish-owned No. 6.
The STSS Crate 602 Sportsman 25-lap main event saw a youth movement. Tanner Van Doren of Walnutport, Pa., drove a flawless race to put his name on the STSS win list. Van Doren picked up $1,500 for his efforts.
Stewart Friesen, Matt Sheppard, Jimmy Horton, Andy Bachetti, Danny Bouc, David Van Horn Jr., Jordan Watson, Ryan Watt, Jeff Strunk, Tyler Dippel, Richie Pratt Jr., Carson Wright, H.J. Bunting, Ryan Riddle, Danny Hieber, John Willman, Joseph Watson, Brandon Watkins, Robert Dutton, Ray Swinehart, Mike Gular, Billy Pauch Jr., Matt Stangle, Ryan Godown, Rick Laubach, Norman Short.