Area Stock Car Racing: NASCAR season wraps up; Short Track Super Series makes Cajun Swing

Stewart Friesen (44) and Jessica Friesen (1Z) race in the modified division at Fonda Speedway on Aug. 1.

Stewart Friesen (44) and Jessica Friesen (1Z) race in the modified division at Fonda Speedway on Aug. 1.

Categories: Sports

On the national scene, NASCAR has ended its season for 2020.

In the Cup Series Chase Elliott claimed the 2020 championship for his hometown of Dawsonville, Georgia, following in his father’s footsteps. Bill Elliott won his one and only Cup Series championship in 1988.

In the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series, Sprakers’ Stewart Friesen continued to show improvement. In a season without practice and qualifying, it has been difficult to keep up to speed. Friesen ran a strong race at Phoenix last Friday, staying near the top five all night. He avoided any mishaps and ended up finishing sixth.

The 2020 Fonda Speedway modified track champion Mike Maresca returned to the Bridgeport Speedway last week and scored the win in the High Banks 50 on Sunday night. Other area drivers at Bridgeport included Jack Lehner finishing 12th, Mike Mahaney in 13th, Peter Britten in 14th and Rocky Warner in 25th.

A few notes from the combined Southern Super Modified Series and Short Track Super Series Cajun Swing:

Night 1 of the STSS Cajun Swing opened on Wednesday at the Ark-La-Tex Speedway with nice weather and 23 cars scheduled to take the green flag. Matt Sheppard and his No. 9S dominated the 40-lap feature for the most part. Sheppard started fourh and let second-place starter Jeff Strunk lead the first lap before taking over the point and claiming the $4,000 winner’s share.

The only passing to speak of was when Friesen, who was running third at the time, suffered a left rear flat midway through the event. Friesen pitted and returned to the rear of the field. From there Friesen climbed back up to the third position and was closing the gap on second place Mike Gular when the checkered flag waved. Completing the top five were Jeff Strunk and Jack Lehner. 2020 Fonda Speedway regular Jeff Heotzler finished eighth and Derrick McGrew was 15th.

In Night 2 action Thursday, Sheppard won the first heat race and, during the redraw for the feature, picked the fourth starting position. John Willman won the second heat race and drew sixth, while Friesen won the third heat and drew seventh for the 50-lap, $5,000-to-win feature.

Strunk and teammate Mike Gular led the 22-car field to the green flag, with Sheppard and Friesen behind them. Sheppard moved into second on lap 12 and passed Strunk for the lead on lap 14.

Sheppard dominated the caution-free event, sweeping the weekend and picking up his third win in three STSS races, adding to his victory two weeks ago at Georgetown Speedway. Friesen gained ground throughout the race and managed to get up for second at the checkered flag.

Friday night, the teams were set to qualify at the Chatham Speedway in Chatham, Louisiana for Saturday’s big 75-lap, $20,000-to-win Mods in the Marsh event.

From what I could tell while viewing the races on Dirt Track Digest TV Ark-La-Tex Speedway looked fairly smooth and dust-free. Unfortunately there were a couple of drivers that had their hopes of competing in the STSS Cajun Swing postponed until next time. Jessica Friesen had work commitments to attend to and SSMS promoter Brandon Hightower fell off of his trailer earlier in the week, breaking his shoulder and collarbone. Modified driver John Lutes Jr.was not driving, but was instead traveling with Derrick McGrew Jr.’s No. 26 team as a crew member.

Brett Deyo continues to build up the footprint of the northeast style dirt modifieds. Announced this week was the continued effort of the STSS and SSMS as partners for the 2021 season and beyond, in hopes of rebranding and growing the modified division in the Louisiana and Texas area. The STSS will provide marketing and rules support for the Cajun region.

Also this week, the Dirt Modified Nostalgia Tour has confirmed races at Fulton Speedway, Brewerton Speedway, Thunder Mountain Speedway and Big Diamond Speedway in Pennsylvania for 2021.

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