With the first guaranteed spot at Super DIRT Week 52 up for grabs Tuesday night at Big Diamond Speedway, Stewart Friesen made the most of the opportunity.

He passed Anthony Perrego on Lap 33 and led the final 42 laps to win the Anthracite Assault—his 45th Super DIRTcar Series victory.

The $10,000 triumph makes him the first driver to lock into the Billy Whittaker Cars 200, an event he’s won five times.

“It’s big,” Friesen said. “Super DIRT Week is a tough, grueling week. We were lucky enough to win the first one at Oswego, and it’s been eight years of missing. So, hopefully we can still be rolling good at that time of the year, but to have a guaranteed spot if something goes wrong is nice to have.”

Stewart Friesen in Victory Lane at Big Diamond
Stewart Friesen earned a guaranteed starting spot at Super DIRT Week 52/Joe Grabianowski

Perrego, the pole-sitter, took the early lead and pulled away from 10-time Series champion Matt Sheppard. However, that lead was short-lived as a yellow flag came out for Ken Eckert Jr. and Marcus Dinkins, who spun on Lap 11. 

As Perrego drove away from Sheppard again on the restart, Friesen, who started sixth started charging through the field. He passed Louden Reimert on the outside and quickly closed in on Sheppard. 

But before Friesen could make the pass for second, another caution came out for Eckert who hit an implement tire on Lap 17. 

When the race resumed on Lap 20, Sheppard found momentum on the outside, thundering around Perrego for the lead in Turn 2 on Lap 21. Luckily for Perrego, the pass was negated as the yellow flag came out for Billy Pauch Jr., slowing the field and reverting the race’s running order to the last completed lap.

On the next restart, Friesen put himself in a position to strike. The Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON driver drove to the lowest part of the front stretch, gaining enough momentum to sneak by Sheppard on the bottom of Turns 1 and 2. That’s when he started to catch Perrego, using the same line he used to pass Sheppard.

Friesen finally saw his opportunity on Lap 33. With a burst of speed, the NASCAR Trucks Series star pulled even with Perrego as they exited Turn 2. 

Stewart Friesen and Anthony Perrego
Stewart Friesen passes Anthony Perrego for the lead on Lap 33/Joe Grabianowski

Then, the two waged war side-by-side going into Turn 3, where Friesen’s momentum powered him past Perrego on the inside lane and into the lead. 

From there, Friesen cruised to his first Super DIRTcar Series triumph of 2024, becoming the fifth different winner in five Series races at Big Diamond.

Friesen said he had a game plan before he strapped into his No. 44 Big Block.

“(We) had to be patient,” Friesen said. “With them starting on the front row they were going to be tough to beat. They’ve both been on fire as of late, Anthony especially. 

“We had a great race car. This Halmar team unloaded a fast race car right from the get-go tonight. We made little changes but the changes we made for the Feature worked.” 

Perrego settled for second, his sixth-consecutive top five to start the season. He said the track was different than what he’s used to.

“We actually took off really good, but our car got stucker and stucker to the racetrack,” Perrego said. “This place usually blackens up and gets a wide black strip. But they did a phenomenal job with it; they had some brown spots all over. If we could do it again, I’d do it a lot different. 

“But all in all, second place against these guys. Stewie passed us but we kept Matt behind us. We’ll go back to work tonight and get ready for tomorrow.”

With his runner-up finish, Perrego has taken over the Series points lead. He currently has an eight-point advantage over Peter Britten, who finished eighth.

Sheppard crossed the line third, his first podium in a points-paying event this season. No matter what Sheppard did throughout the race, he only got by Perrego when he took the lead before the Lap 21 yellow negated his pass.

“I beat the bumper off of [Perrego’s] car for 50-60 laps there but couldn’t get by him,” Sheppard said. “I think we were better than he was, but for some reason, I just couldn’t get by him. I could get to the outside of him; I could get next to him and under him.

“It’s always a pleasure to come down here, and we’ll take a third-place finish and get ready for tomorrow.”

Mat Williamson finished fourth, and Ryan Godown finished fifth. Both drivers earned their second consecutive Super DIRTcar Series top five.

UP NEXT: The Super DIRTcar Series continues its Pennsylvania swing on Wednesday, June 5 at Selinsgrove Speedway in Selinsgrove, PA for the Sand Hill 75. Another guaranteed spot in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 is up for grabs in the $10,000-to-win Feature.

Anthracite Assault 75 (75 Laps): 1. 44-Stewart Friesen[5]; 2. 4*-Anthony Perrego[1]; 3. 9S-Matt Sheppard[2]; 4. 88-Mat Williamson[9]; 5. 26-Ryan Godown[6]; 6. 58-Louden Reimert[3]; 7. 98H-Jimmy Phelps[8]; 8. 21A-Peter Britten[4]; 9. 25-Erick Rudolph[7]; 10. 99L-Larry Wight[19]; 11. 2A-Mike Gular[14]; 12. 83X-Tim Sears Jr[10]; 13. 6-Matthew Stangle[15]; 14. 12-Darren Smith[16]; 15. 2-Jack Lehner[11]; 16. 35-Mike Mahaney[24]; 17. 91-Felix Roy[25]; 18. 70A-Alex Payne[20]; 19. 8-Rich Scagliotta[18]; 20. 66-Alex Yankowski[21]; 21. 15X-Justin Stone[17]; 22. 11-Matt Caprara[28]; 23. 27JR-Daniel Johnson[13]; 24. 27J-Danny Johnson[23]; 25. 28-Michael Trautschold[26]; 26. (DNF) 101-Billy Pauch Jr[12]; 27. (DNF) X1-Ken Eckert[22]; 28. (DNF) 17-Marcus Dinkins[27]

Contingency Awards:
JAM Performance Fastest Hot Lap Award: Anthony Perrego ($100)
Billy Whittaker Cars Quick Time Award: Erick Rudolph ($100)
VP Racing Fuels Award: Peter Britten ($50)
ARP Bolts Award: Anthony Perrego ($50)
ASI Racewear Award: Tim Sears Jr. ($50)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Award: Stewart Friesen ($50)
Cometic Gasket Award: Larry Wight $50
Comp Cams Award: Tim Sears Jr. ($50)
DIG Racing Products: Erick Rudolph ($50)
Fox Factory Award: Peter Britten ($50)
MSD Award: Ryan Godown ($50)
Swift Springs Award: Peter Britten ($50)
Hoosier Racing Tire Award: Jimmy Phelps (Free Tire)
SRI Performance/Stock Car Steel Pole Award: Anthony Perrego ($100)

Post Race Tech: Intakes were checked. All cars passed.