Friesen pulls away on dirt at Eldora for 1st Trucks victory

ROSSBURG, Ohio (AP) — Stewart Friesen won on the dirt at Eldora Speedway on Thursday night for his first NASCAR Trucks Series victory and a spot in the playoffs.

The 36-year-old Canadian broke through in his 63rd series start after finishing second six times. He took the lead to start the final stage, staying out on the half-mile clay oval while leader and defending champion Chase Briscoe pitted after leading all of the first two stages.

“This was meant to be. We needed to get it done on the dirt,” Friesen said while holding his son. “We missed the past two years. What a special event. Oh my goodness, I don’t know what to say.”

Driving the No. 52 Halmar Friesen Racing Chevrolet, Friesen held off Sheldon Creed by 0.728 seconds in a two-lap shootout after the last of the 12 caution periods in the only dirt event in NASCAR’s three national series.

“Oh man, thank you to all the race fans that stuck with us,” Friesen said. “Today, this is the day. This is the week. Thanks to everybody. This is meant to be. We needed to get it done on the dirt. Thanks to everyone. What a special event.”

Points leader Grant Enfinger was third, followed by Mike Marlar in his first series start. Todd Gilliland was fifth.

Briscoe dropped to 12th on the restart for the third stage. The Xfinity Series regular got as high as third with 19 laps to go, but dropped back and spun out as part of a series of accidents that brought out the final caution. He finished seventh.

Tyler Dippel and Ben Rhodes banged cars after the race and had to be separated on pit lane. Dippel finished eighth, and Rhodes was 14th.

The regular-season finale is next week at Michigan International Speedway.