SPARTA, Ky. – Thursday night’s Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway might have marked one of the only times in Stewart Friesen’s NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series career where he wasn’t completely gutted with a runner-up finish.
Sure, it was his record-extending sixth second-place result without a win in the Truck Series, but after the way his day started, it was a much-needed “good showing” for the Ontario native.
Friesen had to start at the rear of the field, in a backup truck, after his primary truck was deemed “unacceptable” by NASCAR inspectors and confiscated prior to the start of on-track activities Thursday.
However, Friesen didn’t stay there long, racing from last in the 32-truck field to sixth by the second stage break at lap 70 and remaining among the frontrunners for the remainder of the night.
Friesen was among those who was able to capitalize late in the race, as then-leader Brett Moffitt and others ran out of fuel inside the final five laps.
He, like eventual winner Tyler Ankrum, had enough in the tank to get to the checkered flag and finished second. It was his second runner-up finish of the year, both coming on 1.5-mile race tracks.
“Tripp (Bruce, crew chief) and the boys battled really, really hard to get this thing ready,” said Friesen of his backup truck. “It still had the rubber on it from Chicagoland. It’s just been tough. This has been a backup for the third straight race for us, and we just fight a balance shift. We get it good for a couple laps, and then it fights us and gets tight … and then it’s loose again all of a sudden.
“It finally started digging at the end, though, and we were awesome when we needed to be,” he added. “I can’t thank Halmar and Chris Larsen enough for everything they do for me. It’s so cool to compete at this level. Second is satisfying for how much we had to fight, but we still want that win we’re missing.”
Friesen left Kentucky Thursday night with a 61-point cushion over the playoff cut line, but that may shrink depending on any potential penalties levied by NASCAR next week for his illegal primary truck.
An L1-level penalty in the Truck Series can carry a 10- to 40-point penalty in the standings.
That potential for point deductions and being closer to the playoff bubbles means that Friesen knows being shut out of victory lane isn’t an option in the final three races of the regular season.
“We’ve gotta win. That’s all there is to it now. Second isn’t good enough and running backup trucks three weeks in a row isn’t good enough,” Friesen noted. “It’s not what Halmar supports us for. We have to look at some things going into Pocono to see where we’re at and where we can battle back from.
“This team has battled all year long and we’re not done fighting, by any means.”