Stewart Friesen, Marc Johnson, Mat Williamson Score Thursday Night Thunder 358-Mod Triumphs
Story By: NICK GRAZIANO / DIRTCAR – OSWEGO, NY – A battle of titans has been set up for the 2022 DIRTcar 358 Modified Salute to the Troops 150 during the 50th Running of NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week.
Time Trials and three Qualifying Heats Thursday night at Oswego Speedway locked 30 drivers into Saturday’s main event and showcased who the top contenders will be.
During the afternoon, Stewart Friesen added another surprising first to his Super DIRT Week stats book. The defending Salute to the Troops 150 champion claimed his first SRI Performance Pole Award for the race with a 21.604 second lap.
“We didn’t do too much to it in practice, honestly, just a couple little things,” Friesen said. “We got out there first on a fresh track in the first group. I don’t know if that hurt or helped but we were able to hang on to it the whole time.”
Marc Johnson earned the Finishing Touch Construction Outside Pole Award, locking his starting position for Saturday’s Feature along with Mat Williamson (third), Rocky Warner (fourth), Gary Lindberg (fifth) and Matt Sheppard (sixth).
Then, the DIRTcar 358 Modifieds went into their three Qualifying Heats later in the night. Each 20 laps and transferred eight to the Salute to the Troops 150.
QUALIFYING HEAT 1
Friesen picked up where he left off in the first DIRTcar 358 Modified Qualifying Heat of the night, launching ahead of the field on the start and never looking back.
Second-place Rocky Warner attempted to challenge the overall six-time Super DIRT Week champion for the lead in the first quarter of the race but by the halfway point, Friesen found his rhythm and pulled away.
Behind them, Erick Rudolph was on the move in the closing laps. He passed Warner for second with two laps to go, but by that point Friesen was about a straightaway ahead.
Friesen took home the victory and $1,000 check, while Rudolph finished second, Warner third, Peter Britten fourth and Lance Willix fifth.
QUALIFYING HEAT 2
Like Friesen, Johnson kept his momentum going throughout the night by winning the second Qualifying Heat. However, a rogues gallery of contenders where thrown at “The Dark Knight” up to the final lap.
On the initial start of the race, Johnson fell to third with Gary Lindberg passing him for the lead and Jimmy Phelps passing him for second. Then, Max McLaughlin found grip around the high side of the track and rocketed to the front, pushing Johnson back to fourth.
McLaughlin held the lead for three laps before Lindberg stole it back on a Lap 6 restart. At the same time, Johnson began his trek forward. He found his way to second by Lap 8 and then began his hunt for Lindberg.
Johnson was able to get within a car length of Lindberg, but never had the run to pass him. Then, luck came in play for Johnson while misfortune came for Lindberg.
On the final lap, Lindberg struggled to get around a lap car before Turn 1, allowing Johnson to dive underneath him. The two dragged raced all the way to the checkered flag with Johnson edging Lindberg by a bumper for the win.
“We’ve had a really good car all week,” Johnson said. “Been top 10, top five, every time we’re out pretty much. Just happy to have the guys I have behind me and give me a good car to position ourselves well.”
Lindberg finished second, Anthony Perrego third, Larry Wight fourth and McLaughlin fifth.
QUALIFYING HEAT 3
After claiming his third straight Hurricane Harvey 75 victory at Brewerton Speedway Wednesday night, Mat Williamson brought that car’s setup to Oswego Speedway for more success.
He launched ahead of second-place Matt Sheppard on the start of the Heat and pulled ahead by almost a straightaway on the first lap. No one had anything for the defending Billy Whittaker Cars 200 champion throughout the 20-lap race.
However, a caution on the final lap gave Sheppard the shot he needed to try and best Williamson. While the field behind them dueled for positions during the green-white-checkered finish, Williamson again rocketed ahead for another DIRTcar 358 Modified win this week.
“We beat Matt (Sheppard) for probably the first time this year,” Williamson said with a chuckle. “It’s tough to win the Thursday night portion of this event. Saturday is going to be even tougher. We have a little bit of work to do. I didn’t feel fantastic out there, but I didn’t feel bad either. I think come Saturday we can have this thing dialed in a little better and contend for a win.”
Sheppard finished second, Dave Marcuccilli third, Mike Mahaney fourth and Billy Dunn fifth.
UP NEXT: The DIRTcar 358 Modifieds will run their Last Chance Showdowns on Saturday, Oct. 8, before the $20,000-to-win Salute to the Troops 150 (at 6pm ET).
Heat 1 (20 Laps): 1. 44-Stewart Friesen; 2. 25-Erick Rudolph; 3. 97-Rocky Warner; 4. 21A-Peter Britten; 5. 31W-Lance Willix; 6. 4V-Billy VanInwegen Jr; 7. 83-Danny Johnson; 8. 7Z-Zachary Payne; 9. 9M-Tyler Meeks; 10. 27W-Nick Webb; 11. 39-Ryan Bartlett; 12. 7S-Shaun Shaw; 13. 1NY-Gregory Atkins; 14. 2J-Robert Bublak; 15. 8-Rich Scagliotta; 16. 74-Dave Flannigan Jr; 17. 32C-James Meehan; 18. 01R-Robert Gage; 19. 879-Darryl Mitchell; 20. 11S-Steve Lewis Jr; 21. 22-Tanner Van Dohren; 22. 32R-Ronnie Davis; 23. (DNS) 02-Roy Bresnahan
Heat 2 (20 Laps): 1. 3J-Marc Johnson; 2. 37S-Gary Lindberg; 3. 4-Anthony Perrego; 4. 99L-Larry Wight; 5. 8H-Max McLaughlin; 6. 3RS-Tim Fuller; 7. 8R-Tim Sears Jr; 8. 21C-Brian Calabrese; 9. 26R-Corey Cormier; 10. 98H-Jimmy Phelps; 11. 5-Brock Pinkerous; 12. 34-Rusty Smith; 13. 15-Todd Root; 14. 66W-Derek Webb; 15. 713-Tommy Collins; 16. 58M-Marshall Hurd; 17. 37-Alex Tonkin; 18. 11-Justin Crisafulli; 19. 115-Montgomery Tremont; 20. 50-William August; 21. 3M-Michael Stanton; 22. 16-Aaron Jacobs; 23. (DQ) 28T-Michael Trautschold
Heat 3 (20 Laps): 1. 6-Mat Williamson; 2. 9S-Matt Sheppard; 3. M1-David Marcuccilli; 4. 35-Mike Mahaney; 5. 49-Billy Dunn; 6. 215-Adam Pierson; 7. 21-Taylor Caprara; 8. 15X-Justin Stone; 9. 28-Jordan McCreadie; 10. 12S-Darren Smith; 11. 29-Matt Caprara; 12. 21R-RJ Tresidder; 13. 31-Corey Barker; 14. 26-Michael Mandigo; 15. 88T-Tyler Jashembowski; 16. 24P-Brian Pessolano; 17. 14-CG Morey; 18. 52-Jessica Power; 19. 20K-Kyle Inman; 20. 14S-Brian Swarthout; 21. 60-Jackson Gill; 22. 12-Ryan Macartney; 23. (DNS) 13-Ted Starr