Stewart Friesen: ‘We’re Just Learning as We Go’ After Charlotte Top-Five

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

CONCORD, N.C. – By taking a’ learn as we go’ approach, Stewart Friesen scored a runner-up finish in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Opting to pit under the final caution, Friesen’s No. 52 Halmar International Toyota Tundra TRD Pro lined up inside the top-10. The James Villenueve-led team maintained their track position despite the intense pressure with under 15 laps to go.

On the final restart, Friesen’s fresher tires propelled him forward. He followed eventual race winner Nick Sanchez and fellow Toyota Racing driver Corey Heim into the top-five. As the laps clicked off, both Sanchez and Heim pulled away from Friesen, but the Canadian driver had a big enough cushion over Grant Enfinger to take the checkered flag in third.

The owner-driver was elevated to a runner-up finish after NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series officials disqualified Heim for having three lug nuts not safe and secure post-race.

“We obviously needed to salvage (the race),” Friesen admitted. “The pit strategy and trying to stay upfront if it didn’t work, we really, really (would have) looked like losers. So, we were able to salvage it. We had a really good pit stop there at the end, made good adjustments all night long and.

“We’re just learning as we go and we’re a small group. Big thanks to Chris Larson and Halmar and everything, they, they support us with, but proud of our guys in the fab shop. Race to race, pit stop to pit stop, we make it better and better. We still got some work to do in dirty air, but it feels good to get a top five here.” 

The runner-up finish is the latest in a turn-around for Friesen’s team. After early-season struggles, he’s climbed up the grid to challenge for wins for the first time in the 2024 season. Although Friesen admitted that the ‘learning’ pace of his team isn’t what they have wanted so far.

“(The pace of learning) wasn’t (what we wanted) at the beginning of the year and in in the last 2-3 weeks I feel like the group of us have really come together,” Friesen said. “We got Chris Larson, our boss is a great leader and really instills a lot of fighting us to push each other’s limits and think about all aspects of it. Don’t take anything for granted. So that’s (what) we’ve been doing and it’s been getting better.”

The runner-up finish was Friesen’s first top-five of the 2024 season and the 48th of his Truck Series career. It was his first top-five finish since the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last year.

The top-five finish moved the 40-year-old up from 13th to 11th in the points standings. Friesen is 196-points behind leader Christian Eckes and just 28 behind the playoff cutline, currently held by Ben Rhodes.

Next for Friesen is the Toyota 200 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. In six starts at the track he has five top-five finishes with a best finish of third, twice.

The Toyota 200 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is scheduled for Saturday, June 1 at 1:30 p.m. ET on FOX. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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