Three races into the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series season, and Stewart Friesen has scored a pair of top-10 finishes. Following a fourth-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the Canadian took some time to share his thoughts on Martinsville Speedway, the year to date, and more with POPULAR SPEED.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts looking towards Martinsville?
STEWART FRIESEN: Honestly, Martinsville is not my favorite track on my schedule. We’ve had a lot of bad luck there and struggled the last few times we’ve ran there, so hopefully everything we’ve learned we can apply this year and have a better result.
PS: What’s the biggest challenge of Martinsville?
STEWART: For me, it’s just patience. For me, with the trucks having the spec engines, there’s limited horsepower so it’s a little bit of a different short track type of racing then I grew up doing with the modified engines and high horsepower. It’s just having patience, and having a good game plan and playing it out.
Trip Bruce, my crew chief, and I have talked about it. There’s probably a couple different ways to play it, so we’re going to watch some video of last year’s races and see how it played out, and make our best decision on a plan and stick to it.
PS: What are your thoughts on your season to date?
STEWART: It’s been good. We struggled at Atlanta a little bit. Daytona is always a bit of a crapshoot, but we were able to get out of there with some points and have a 10th-place run, even with the wreck at the end. We learned a lot at Atlanta, and then we had a great run at Vegas and learned a lot from that, too.
We’ve applied some stuff that we’ve learned from those two mile-and-a-halves to our mile-and-a-half program with our bodies on our Chevys, and hopefully when we go to Texas in two weeks we can apply some of that stuff and really shine there.
PS: You’ve come close to winning your first career victory a couple different times now. What do you feel you and your team need to make that happen now?
STEWART: Just execute a good, full race weekend. Have a good first practice; when you unload off the truck, there’s always things you can do to the race truck to make it better, and we’ve done that – but just haven’t been able to execute a full race. We have a couple of sure wins and we pitted under green flag stops and they got away from us – last year at Kentucky and at the end of the year at Texas. That was just miscues on my end, speeding in the pits and then stalling at Kentucky under a gas-and-go deal.
So it’s just having good, clean races. Vegas was good for us. We had some bad luck at the beginning where we had a flat tire and stuff we had to battle through, but that’s what it takes to win a race at any day – having a flawless day. The day that we do that, I will be jumping up and down and telling you about our first win.
PS: Beyond Martinsville, what track are you most looking forward to?
STEWART: I’m really looking forward to Texas. We were fast there both races last year and like I said, our mile-and-a-half program has been good. With the association with GMS (Racing) and their fab shop, and the stuff that we’ve learned and applied from this year already, I’m really looking forward to getting there.
PS: What track do you wish was on the schedule that currently isn’t?
STEWART: That’s a good question. Probably Richmond. I’ve never been there, but watching the races, they put on a really good NASCAR race there. And then I was a really big fan of New Hampshire. That was where I made my first truck series start on pavement three years ago in 2016. I just had a couple good runs there, so I wish that was on the schedule – and the fact that it’s close to home here in upstate New York.
PS: We’ve seen drivers explore running different series and cars. Is there anything on your bucket list to do?
STEWART: I’ve been able to run a bunch of sprint cars, and win some of those races which has been cool. I got to run a non-wing car in California on Thanksgiving, and that was pretty cool. Maybe getting back to the Chili Bowl is kind of a bucket list thing, and maybe having a shot at Xfinity or Cup would be something I’d like to be able to participate in before I hang it up.
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