YORK, Pa. – After two consecutive years of disappointment, Stewart Friesen got retribution on Sunday evening at BAPS Motor Speedway.
Friesen rebounded from a pair of consecutive runner-up finishes after leading the York County Nationals to win the 18th edition presented by Sunoco Race Fuels and Insinger Performance. The 50-lap conquest annexed Friesen a paycheck of $10,300 for his efforts.
The annual BAPS visit marked race No. 5 of the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Velocita-USA South Region presented by Sunglass Central and Design for Vision.
Friesen started the event sixth in the big-block-powered Halmar International No. 44 DKM mount.
Pole starter Rick Laubach, however, set the pace from the outset of the main. Laubach’s Ryan Kerr-owned No. 1K shot into the lead with the drop of Joe Kriss’ green flag.
Friesen swiftly moved into the runner-up position.
On lap 15, the stout performance by Laubach came to a halt on the frontstretch as he lost power and coasted to a stop.
“He was setting a pretty good pace,” Friesen said of Laubach. “I was trying to ride a little bit early on. The track was fast tonight.”
With Friesen now leading, 18th-starter Duane Howard was on the move in Norm Hansell’s No. 357. Howard cracked the top-five by lap 15.
Following a 25th-lap restart, Howard swept past Matt Sheppard – who had made his own charge from 12th on the starting grid – on the outside lane for third, then drove inside Jared Umbenhauer for second.
The runner-up spot was as high as Howard would get. His car began showing smoke on lap 30. Three laps later, the Oley, Pa., driver retired to the infield.
Sheppard was able to clear Umbenhauer for second and appeared to close on race leader Friesen in the late distance.
With just five laps remaining, Billy Pauch Jr. slowed in turn three to draw the caution. Sheppard lined up behind the leader for a final five-lap dash, but Friesen repelled all advances for the conquest.
“I tried to switch it up the last couple laps,” Friesen said, knowing ‘Super Matt’ lined up on his rear bumper for the restart. “It was good enough.”
Sheppard, the race’s 2018 winner, settled for second position, extending his lead in the STSS South Region standings with three events remaining as he races for a $10,000 championship.
“The redraw kind of beat us tonight,” noted Sheppard, who picked the worst number – 12 – of all the top qualifiers.
Sheppard, like Friesen, was utilizing big-block power between the frame rails of his Hurlock Auto & Speed No. 9s.
Umbenhauer guided the second Dick Biever-owned No. 14s to a series-best third-place finish, running as a teammate to Craig Von Dohren. Umbenhauer was thrilled with the effort, piloting a 360 cubic inch small-block engine.
“This feels like a win to me,” offered Umbenhauer after chasing the sport’s two titans across the line.
Jeff Strunk guided Glenn Hyneman’s No. 126 to a fourth-place result and Andy Bachetti’s long ride to Central Pennsylvania from Sheffield, Mass., resulted in a top-five finish aboard his Garrity Asphalt No. 4.
Stewart Friesen, Matt Sheppard, Jared Umbenhauer, Jeff Strunk, Andy Bachetti, Ryan Watt, Billy Pauch, Craig Von Dohren, Billy Pauch Jr., David Van Horn, Jordan Watson, Ryan Krachun, Richie Pratt Jr., Mike Gular, Duane Howard, Brian Hitz, Frank Cozze, Jimmy Horton, Anthony Perrego, Joseph Watson, Brandon Grosso, Rick Laubach, Danny Bouc.