The 54-race winless drought for Stewart Friesen came to an end under the lights in the Lone Star state Saturday night. The 38-year-old Friesen from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, outlasted an overtime restart and a fierce duel against Christian Eckes to win the SpeedwayCash.com 220 at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, May 20.
Friesen, who posted the third-fastest qualifying lap but led the field to the start, led a race-high 60 of 149 laps as he made his long-awaited return to Victory Lane for the first time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series since winning at Phoenix Raceway in November 2019.
With on-track qualifying occurring on Friday, John Hunter Nemechek notched his fourth Truck pole position of the season after a pole-winning lap at 182.359 mph in 29.612 seconds. Nemechek, however, dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to his truck. As a result, Stewart Friesen, who qualified in third place with a qualifying lap at 181,056 mph in 29.825 seconds, and rookie Corey Heim, who qualified in second place with a lap at 182.192 mph in 29.639 seconds, occupied the front row.
Jordan Anderson, Austin Wayne Self, Grant Enfinger, Bret Holmes and Chris Hacker joined Nemechek at the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to their respective trucks. Colby Howard also started at the rear of the field in a backup truck after he wrecked his primary truck during Friday’s practice session.
When the green flag waved and the race started, Heim and Friesen were locked in a side-by-side battle for the top spot before Heim led the first lap by a hair on the outside lane. Shortly after, however, Friesen managed to clear the field and move into the lead as the field scrambled and jostled for positions early.
Through the first five scheduled laps, Friesen was leading over Ryan Preece followed by Christian Eckes, Heim and Derek Kraus while Chandler Smith, Ty Majeski, Ben Rhodes, Hailie Deegan and Ross Chastain, rounded out the top-10.
Nearing the Lap 10 mark, the first caution of the event flew when Chris Hacker spun in Turn 2. During the caution period, some of the drivers, including Carson Hocevar, pitted while the rest, led by Friesen, remained on the track.
On Lap 14, the race restarted under green as the field locked in a heated, side-by-side battle. When the field returned to the start/finish line, Ryan Preece led the following lap before being challenged in another side-by-side battle with Friesen for the lead, with the latter reassuming the top spot. Behind, Eckes and Kraus battled for third ahead of Heim, Chandler Smith, Ben Rhodes, Ty Majeski and the field.
At the Lap 20 mark, Preece reassumed the lead over Friesen while Eckes, Majeski, Chandler Smith, Zane Smith, Kraus, Heim, Rhodes and Matt Crafton were in the top 10. By then, Nemechek, who started at the rear of the field, was challenging for a top-10 spot.
Ten laps later, Preece stabilized his advantage to more than two-tenths of a second over Friesen while Eckes, Zane Smith and Majeski battled in the top five. By then, Nemechek was up to seventh behind teammate Chandler Smith while Kraus, Rhodes and Heim were in the top 10.
When the first stage concluded on Lap 35, Preece captured his first stage victory of the season while Friesen, Zane Smith, Eckes, Chandler Smith, Nemechek, Majeski, Rhodes, Kraus and Heim were scored in the top 10.
Under the stage break, the field, led by Preece, pitted and Friesen retained the top spot after exiting first ahead of Preece, Eckes, Zane Smith, Rhodes and Nemechek. During the pit stops, Zane Smith was penalized for equipment interference while Blaine Perkins and Todd Bodine were penalized for speeding on pit road. In addition, Chandler Smith pitted for a second time to address a loose left-rear wheel on his No. 18 iBuyPower Toyota Tundra TRD Pro.
The second stage started on Lap 42 as Friesen and Preece occupied the front row. At the start, Friesen and Preece were locked in another side-by-side battle for the lead with the latter managing to lead ahead of Eckes and Nemechek, who cracked the top five.
Through the first 50 scheduled laps, Friesen’s No. 52 Halmar Toyota Tundra TRD Pro was leading by more than a tenth of a second over Preece’s No. 17 Morton Buildings Ford F-150 while Nemechek’s No. 4 Tom Thumb/Albertson’s Toyota Tundra TRD Pro was up in third place. ThorSport Racing’s Eckes and Rhodes were in the top five followed by Tyler Ankrum, Corey Heim, Kraus, Grant Enfinger and Majeski while Ross Chastain, Carson Hocevar, Matt Crafton, Matt DiBenedetto and Chandler Smith occupied the top 15. Behind, Hailie Deegan and Zane Smith battled for 16th while Tanner Gray, rookie Jack Wood and Chase Purdy were in the top 20.
Ten laps later, Friesen extended his advantage to more than six-tenths of a second over Preece while Nemechek, Eckes and Rhodes remained in the top five.
Another six laps later, Preece seized the opportunity when Friesen was stuck in lapped traffic to take the lead while third-place Nemechek trailed by more than four-tenths of a second. By then, fourth-place Ben Rhodes trailed by more than five seconds along with teammate, Eckes.
When the second stage concluded on Lap 70, Preece, who managed to slowly pull away from Friesen, captured his second consecutive stage victory of the season. Friesen settled in second followed by Nemechek, Rhodes, Eckes, Derek Kraus, Heim, Majeski, Chastain and Ankrum.
Under the stage break, the field, led by Friesen, returned to pit road for service and Nemechek emerged at the top of the leaderboard after exiting with the lead followed by Friesen, Preece, Eckes and Chastain. During the pit stops, Zane Smith, Ankrum and Heim made contact, which sent Heim’s No. 51 JBL Toyota Tundra TRD Pro around on pit road. Following the pit stops, Rhodes was penalized for an uncontrolled tire violation.
With 70 laps remaining, the final stage started under green. At the start, Nemechek and Preece briefly dueled for the lead until Nemechek pulled away as the field fanned out through the backstretch. When the field returned to the start/finish line, Preece had fallen back to fourth while Friesen and Eckes were in second and third.
With 62 laps remaining, the caution flew when Majeski got loose beneath Kraus entering Turn 1 and sent Kraus into the outside wall. During the caution period, some drivers, including Nemechek, Preece and Crafton pitted, while the rest, led by Friesen remained on the track.
Six laps later, the race proceeded under green as Friesen and Eckes occupied the front row. After Friesen led the first few laps during the restart, Eckes muscled his No. 98 AHI Facility Services Toyota Tundra TRD Pro to the front.
With 50 laps remaining, Eckes was leading by more than a tenth of a second over Friesen while Chandler Smith, Chastain and Ankrum were in the top five. Enfinger was in sixth followed by Zane Smith, Majeski, Carson Hocevar and Matt DiBenedetto.
Two laps later, Friesen regained the lead over Eckes. Another six laps later, the caution flew for an incident involving Tyler Hill and Kris Wright in Turn 2 that cut Wright’s tire and sent him into the Turn 3 wall. During the caution period, nearly the entire field, except for Chase Purdy, pitted. Following the pit stops, Austin Wayne Self was penalized for improper fueling along with Jesse Little for an uncontrolled tire.
Down to the final 36 laps of the event, the race proceeded under green as Purdy and Hocevar occupied the front row. At the start, the field shuffled for positions entering the backstretch as Hocevar retained the lead followed by Eckes and Chastain.
Three laps later, Eckes took the lead over Hocevar while Chastain, Friesen and Grant Enfinger occupied the top five. Meanwhile, Nemechek was in seventh behind Tanner Gray while Chandler Smith, Zane Smith and Preece were scored in the top 10.
Under the final 30 laps of the event, Eckes was leading by less than three-tenths of a second over Hocevar followed by Friesen, Chastain and Enfinger while Nemechek moved up to sixth place. Behind, Chandler Smith and Zane Smith made contact entering Turn 1, but both competitors managed to proceed forward. However, Zane Smith ended up pitting under green due to cutting a right-front tire.
With 20 laps remaining, Eckes was leading by less than three-tenths of a second over Hocevar while Nemechek was up in fourth behind Friesen. By then, Zane Smith had dropped off the pace as he made another pit stop under green to address the right-front fender on his truck.
Just then, the caution flew as Ankrum spun due to on-track contact with Enfinger while both were battling for a top-10 spot. During the caution period, none of the front competitors toward the front chose to pit.
Down to the final 14 laps of the event, the race continued under green. At the start, Hocevar led briefly until Eckes carved his way back to the lead when he returned to the start/finish line. Behind, Friesen moved into the runner-up spot while Preece and Nemechek were in the top five.
Down to the final 10 scheduled laps, Eckes, Friesen, Hocevar, Preece and Nemechek were separated by less than eight-tenths of a second as Eckes continued to lead by a tenth of a second over Friesen and less than three-tenths over Hocevar.
Then with five laps remaining, the caution flew when Rhodes spun and hit the backstretch wall following contact with Tanner Gray. At the moment of caution, Eckes was still out in front by a narrow margin over Friesen, Hocevar, Preece and Nemechek, all of whom battled intensely in the closing laps of the event.
With the event sent into overtime, Eckes and Friesen battled for the top spot for a full lap as the field jostled for last-minute positions behind.
When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Friesen and Eckes remained dead even for the lead through the frontstretch until Friesen managed to clear and pull ahead of Eckes entering the backstretch. Then through Turns 3 and 4, Friesen went from the top to the bottom lane to block Eckes and stall his progress. This was enough for Friesen to cross the finish line by 0.122 seconds over Eckes to grab his first series victory in over two seasons.
In addition to snapping a two-year winless drought, Friesen notched his third career victory in the Camping World Truck Series, his first at Texas and his first driving a Toyota. With the victory, Friesen became the fifth Truck regular competitor to grab a win and be guaranteed a spot for the 2022 Truck Playoffs. He also recorded the first NASCAR victory for crew chief Jon Leonard.
“Man, I made all the mistakes I needed to make in the first two segments,” Friesen said on FS1. “We had an awesome truck. Thanks so much to [owner] Chris Larsen, everybody at Halmar International, the whole group. There’s a huge office there that pulls for us every week. Finally, we got something to celebrate. Thank you, guys. You have no idea the work that’s went into this race team over the past three years to build this up. It’s an awesome group. We’re in the Playoffs. How about that?! Whoo!”
“I’m terrible on restarts, and that was probably the best one on old tires,” Friesen added. “Just didn’t spin the tires, got a jump and then, thew a slider into [Turns] 1 and 2, and it stuck.”
Eckes, who led 40 laps, settled in second place for his best result of the season thus far while Preece came home in third place.
“[I] Just didn’t have lane position,” Eckes said. “It is what it is. Just super proud of these AHI Facility Services team. It’s been a rough stretch here for a little bit. I’m glad to show that we can actually be here and win races. This is just a taste to come and we’re more hungrier than ever.”
“We just need to clean up a few things,” Preece said. “When you gain control of the race, you can’t give it up, especially here. It was, really top lane, dominant there, basically in the middle part of the race and to the end. Proud of the speed this Morton Buildings Ford F-150 really had. It’s a pleasure to race trucks like that and to work with [crew chief] Chad Johnston and this entire group. It stings that much more watching [the end] right now, but we got to third. I hate losing more than I love winning, but we’ll try to go get them the next time we’re in this [series].”
Carson Hocevar, who is still pursuing his first career victory in NASCAR, finished in fourth place while Ty Majeski finished in the top five.
Nemechek, Heim, Chandler Smith, Crafton and DiBenedetto completed the top 10.
There were 17 lead changes among seven different leaders. The race featured seven cautions for 36 laps.
With seven races remaining in the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular-season stretch, John Hunter Nemechek leads the standings by four points over Ben Rhodes, 18 over Chandler Smith, 21 over Stewart Friesen, 32 over Zane Smith and 33 over Ty Majeski.
Zane Smith, Ben Rhodes, John Hunter Nemechek, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith are currently guaranteed spots in the 2022 Truck Playoffs based on winning at least once throughout the season while Ty Majeski, Christian Eckes, Carson Hocevar, Grant Enfinger and Matt Crafton are above the top-10 cutline based on points. Tanner Gray trails the cutline by 35 points with Derek Kraus trailing by 57, Matt DiBenedetto by 67 and Tyler Ankrum by 68.
1. Stewart Friesen, 60 laps led
2. Christian Eckes, 40 laps led
3. Ryan Preece, 27 laps led, Stage 1 & 2 winner
4. Carson Hocevar, four laps led
5. Ty Majeski
6. John Hunter Nemechek, 14 laps led
7. Corey Heim, one lap led
8. Chandler Smith
9. Matt Crafton
10. Matt DiBenedetto
11. Grant Enfinger
12. Ross Chastain
13. Todd Bodine
14. Jordan Anderson
15. Bret Holmes
16. Jack Wood
17. Hailie Deegan
18. Austin Wayne Self
19. Jesse Little
20. Timmy Hill
21. Chase Purdy, three laps led
22. Tate Fogleman
23. Brennan Poole
24. Tanner Gray
25. Tyler Hill
26. Blaine Perkins
27. Ben Rhodes, one lap down
28. Spencer Boyd, two laps down
29. Dean Thompson, three laps down
30. Lawless Alan, four laps down
31. Chris Hacker, six laps down
32. Zane Smith, six laps down
33. Tyler Ankrum – OUT, Overheating
34. Colby Howard, 10 laps down
35. Kris Wright – OUT, Accident
36. Derek Kraus – OUT, Accident
Next on the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule is the series’ annual event at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. The event is scheduled to occur on Friday, May 20, at 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1.