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NASCAR Cup: Stewart Friesen wins at ISM, championship four set

PHOENIX, ARIZONA – NOVEMBER 08: Stewart Friesen, driver of the #52 Halmar International Chevrolet, poses with the trophy after winning the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 at ISM Raceway in Phoenix on November 08, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

With his second NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series win of the 2019 season and the second of his career, Stewart Friesen cemented his spot among the championship four for the Nov. 15 season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Friesen was sent to the back in the opening laps in Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150 at ISM (formerly Phoenix International Raceway) but was up front at the checkered flag.

“It’s awesome,” Friesen said of advancing to the final round of the playoffs. “It’s what we’ve been geared up for all year long. We just didn’t get a lot of breaks. We lost races about every which way you could lose them and thought it was another one tonight.”

Friesen was the only playoff driver up front at the end, as NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Brandon Jones finished second, Chandler Smith was third and Truck Series regulars and ThorSport Racing teammates Ben Rhodes and Grant Enfinger rounded out the top-five.

Three other playoff drivers — Matt Crafton, Ross Chastain and Brett Moffitt — finished inside the top-10 Friday night and, like Friesen, will battle for the 2019 Truck Series title at Homestead, with Crafton in sixth, Chastain ninth and Moffitt 10th. Meanwhile, Austin Hill and 2019 Rookie-of-the-Year Tyler Ankrum were eliminated from playoff contention after race finishes of 13th and 26th.

Friesen started the race on the front row alongside pole sitter Hill. Friesen jumped out to the lead at the drop of the green flag, but after beating Hill to the start/finish line, he was sent to the back by NASCAR officials. After racing up to ninth by the time the first stage ended on lap 45 and getting up to fourth in the running order by the end of stage two at lap 90, Friesen took the lead from Jones on lap 107 and led the remainder of the 150-lap race.

“It was a great race car,” Friesen said. “We were able to pass ’em all, pass ’em all clean. Great race car, great race team. We’ll all celebrate tomorrow, and then, it’s game on.”

When Friesen was moved to the back at the start of the race, Rhodes became the race leader after starting fourth. Rhodes led all but one lap of the opening stage en route to the stage-one win. Smith was credited with leading a single lap in a side-by-side batttle with Rhodes for the top spot on a restart that followed a lap-23 caution for Derek Kraus.

Jones took over in the second stage after recovering from a lap-two spin that brought out the first of five cautions in the race. Jones was one of five drivers who stayed out during the caution at the end of the opening stage after pitting during the Kraus caution. Another driver who stayed out, Sheldon Creed, was up front for the restart at the beginning of stage two, but on lap 66, Jones took the lead that he would maintain throughout the remainder of the stage.

Jones lost his lead after the second stage completed when Johnny Sauter beat him off pit road with a two-tire stop, but when the race restarted, Jones got back to the front. After losing his lead for the final time to Friesen, Jones battled the eventual race leader in the closing laps.

“We were close. I hate it for these guys,” Jones said. “I wanted to win a Truck race. Who knows, I may have an opportunity in the future to do it again. These guys build awesome trucks, and I’ve never been able to run for a team quite like this, and it’s been fun this year. They’re going to go for a (owners’) championship at Homestead; hopefully they can pull it off. Good luck to Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) and all those guys. DuPont came on board this weekend. I should have hit him maybe in turns three and four, but I don’t know, that comes back around, too. Maybe it will help me out in the future, but I doubt it.”

Other top-10 race finishers included Harrison Burton in seventh and Sauter in eighth.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the Lucas Oil 150 at ISM Raceway:

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Posted by on November 9, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR,NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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