VERNON, N.Y. – Steve Poirier did something that rarely happens, he made a mistake in the final corner of the 30-lap Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint A-Main on Sunday at Utica-Rome Speedway.
That mistake allowing Stewart Friesen to retake the lead and the win in the first ever Gates-Cole Associates/SUNY Canton Cole Cup. Friesen hosted the Cole Cup trophy in Victory Lane for the biggest win of his sprint car career. He also gave the Doug Emery/Barb Patterson owned team its fifth win of the season with four of those wins coming from Friesen and one additional win from Doug Emery.
Friesen pocketed $7,000 for his efforts in the program that was stretched to two-days thanks to Mother Nature.
“This is a pretty awesome feeling,” commented Friesen. “I owe this all to Barb (Patterson) and Doug (Emery). This is a great race team and I’m really fortunate to be surrounded by great people right now. This is a great group of local people. When we go on the road and visit other places I’m really happy to call Utica-Rome home and represent this place. This is pretty darn cool. I got to thank everyone, all the clubs that came together. It is a great situation.”
Jason Barney and Wayne Johnson made up the front row for the green flag with Barney leading the field to the first turn before Friesen blasted by him on the outside of turns three and four to take the lead.
From there it was Friesen setting the pace while Barney, Bryan Howland and Steve Poirier battled for second. That was the way the field ran as the first caution came out on lap three when Kevin Ward Jr. spun off the speedway causing Dylan Swiernik to spin and collect Larry Wight. Wight flipped off the top turn three several times. He was uninjured in the incident.
After cars were pushed back off and a double-file restart put Friesen on the point and Barney to his outside. When the green came out, Friesen, using his Modified experience, ran away from the field while Poirier moved around Barney into the second spot. The race between the two was on from there.
Friesen opened the gap to several car-lengths before entering slower traffic on lap 10. Friesen got held up a couple of times allowing Poirier to close the gap between the pair. A few laps later Friesen made a couple of swift moves to put several cars between them.
At halfway Friesen was the leader over Poirier, Barney, Shawn Donath and Howland. Friesen’s advantage was nearly a full-straightaway with the rest battling for the runner-up position.
That was the running order with ten laps to go and then, with seven laps to go, the final caution of the race came out for Dain Naida as his car went up in flames setting up a potential race changing restart. Naida’s car was pushed from the speedway with the field doubling up for the green flag.