VERNON, NY - In the 2013 version of the SUNY Canton/Gates Cole Associates Cole Cup Stewart Friesen rallied on the final lap to win the race. This year’s edition went much differently for the Sprakers, N.Y., driver as he dominated the 30-lap race securing his second win of the event as well as the $10,000 winner’s share.
Making the victory even more special is that husband and wife finished one two. Friesen and long-time Sprint Car driver Jessica Zemken were married earlier in the week and the duo grabbed the top two spots on the podium on Saturday night.
“Totally unbelievable,” said Friesen in Victory Lane. “I have to thank Jess (Zemken) for pushing me toward these Sprint Cars. I have to thank Doug (Emery) and Barb (Patterson), Tommy Patterson and everyone associated with this Doug Emery Motorsports team for all they give us. Doug tweaked on this car all year just preparing for this race and the notes paid off and for the 1z team to be second is unbelievable. It caps off a great week for us.”
It took three tries to get the race started. On original start Friesen and Larry Wight raced into the first corner together. Wight came up off the bottom of the speedway and spun the car on the outside of the second turn. As he spun his right rear tire dug in causing him to flip off lightly over. He was put back on all fours and the team made repairs to the top wing allowing him to return to the event.
On the second attempt for the start, everyone made it through turns one and two but as they raced through three and four a five wide move was attempted through turn three. Cory Sparks made contact with another car and like Wight his car got sideways and just dug in sending him over on his side. His car was put back on its wheels and pushed to the pits. He also returned to competition.
The third time proved to be the charm as Friesen took advantage of redrawing the outside of the front row. He beat Sammy Reakes to the first corner and took the lead down the backstretch. Following him to the front was Jason Shultz who started fourth as he grabbed second in turns three and four.
“Clean air was crucial,” said Friesen. “I knew if we got out front there and set a good pace it would come to us. I thought for sure there was going to be a couple more cautions but once we got rolling I just wanted it to stay green.”
Friesen and Shultz remained the top two as they entered traffic on the sixth circuit challenging Friesen’s mobility for the first time. His Doug Emery owned, Donath Motor Worx powered Eagle proved to have the necessary setup to move around the racing surface as Friesen extended his lead in traffic.
One-third of the race was complete with Friesen setting a torrid pace in front while Steve Poirier secured second as he tried to chase down Friesen after starting in the seventh spot. He was joined by Zemken as the pair battle one another as they raced among the slower cars at the tail of the field.
Just after the halfway point Friesen found himself intermingled with cars running just outside of the top ten. As a result he was forced to make some daring moves as he tried to distance himself from Poirier and Zemken. On lap 17 he made a three wide move off of the second turn to thread the needle between two drivers to put them a lap down.
“This place is such a momentum track and if you can get clear of them guys and keep rolling you can really put some distance on it and not let second place get so close,” commented Friesen. “I was just trying to keep rolling, keep hitting our marks while adjusting the car when I needed to with the wing and stuff. It just rolled like I said.”
Friesen continued to dominate as the race reached the five to go mark. Friesen held nearly a three second advantage with eyes turned to the race for second between Poirier and Zemken. Zemken began moving her line as Poirier continued to protect her preferred groove on the bottom of the speedway. She moved up to the middle of the race track and began getting closer to Poirier.
At the checkered it was Friesen winning by a full straightaway while Poirier again found himself getting passed in the final corner. This time Zemken slid by him in the middle of the track to take the second position as they exited turn four to the checkered flag.
“We had a good car all night and if anyone is going to beat me I’d rather be beat by him,” said Zemken. “We had a good car and I can’t complain. I caught him (Poirier) once there and got stuck against the backstretch wall with the 67 (Collins) and I thought it was over then. I regrouped a little bit after he passed me. He knows I like the bottom but he protected it a little bit too good and I just tried to roll through the middle and keep my momentum up. The car went really good in the middle and it worked out.”
Poirier, the current Empire Super Sprint point leader, ended up the third car on the podium. The Quebec star was happy with the effort but disappointed with a mistake on the final lap that cost him the second position at the checkered flag.
“I was really happy when I was running second,” said Poirier. “I was hoping for a yellow flag to see if I had anything for Stewart at the front end. At the end the car got a little bit slower because I was running the low line. I tried the middle but the car wasn’t as good so I stuck on the bottom. I made a bad choice on the last lap when Stillwaggon looked he was going to the outside and he chose the bottom and it broke my momentum and Jessica got by me.”
Paul Kinney came from the ninth starting position to finish in fourth and Matt Tanner saw his perfect streak come to an end as the Stephentown, N.Y., driver finished in fifth after dominating everything up to that point on the weekend.
Tanner was fast timer on the night with a 16.762 earning extra $100 from DirtTrackDigest.com and also won his heat race event after starting sixth. Other heat race winners who earned a $100 bonus from Einstein Construction Group on the night included New Jersey invader Kyle Reinhardt, Parker Evans and Wight. Robbie Stillwaggon and Danny Varin won the pair of B-Mains.
GATES-COLE INSURANCE AND SUNY CANTON COLE CUP QUICK RESULTS
COLE CUP A-MAIN FINISH (30 LAPS)- STEWART FRIESEN, Jessica Zemken, Steve Poirier, Paul Kinney, Matt Tanner, Danny Varin, Aaron Ott, Sammy Reakes IV, Jason Shultz, Jason Barney, Tommy Wickham, Robbie Stillwaggon, Jeff Cook, Davie Franek, Larry Wight, Daryl Ruggles, Cory Sparks, Mike Stelter, Steve Collins, Jordan Thomas, Parker Evans, Dave Just, Kyle Reinhardt, Wayne Johnson, Chuck Hebing, and Dain Naida.
DNQ- Shawn Donath, Joe Trenca, Alysha Ruggles, Tyler Graves, Brad Knab, Jake Muench, Bob Gray, Paul Habeck, Steve Hutchinson, Steve Glover, Dave Axton, James Hanson, Brian Howland, and Scott Just.
COLE CUP HEAT WINNER EINSTEIN CONSTRUCTION GROUP BONUS($100)-Matt Tanner, Larry Wight, Kyle Reinhardt, and Parker Evans
COLE CUP TOP NON QUALIFIER EINSTEIN CONSTRUCTION GROUP BONUS($100)-Joe Trenca and Steve Glover.
FASTEST TIME TRIALER DIRTTRACKDIGEST.COM BONUS($100)-Matt Tanner
LAP MONEY($1,275 total)-Stewart Friesen($350), Matt Tanner($275), Steve Poirier($275), Jessica Zemken($200), Jason Schultz($75),Paul Kinney($75), and Jason Barney($25).