Stewart Friesen tasked with Bristol dirt by Spire, will be Cup debut

Add Stewart Friesen to the list of drivers who will run both the NASCAR Cup and Camping World Truck Series races on Bristol Motor Speedway‘s dirt layout in late March. On Tuesday, Spire Motorsports announced the Truck Series regular will make his Cup début in 28 March’s Food City Dirt Race a day after running the Trucks’ Pinty’s Dirt Truck Race. He will drive the #77 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE.

Friesen has competed in the Truck Series for his Halmar Friesen Racing operation since 2016 and on a full-time basis since 2018. His maiden race in the series also came on the dirt at Eldora Speedway, which was then the lone dirt race in NASCAR’s national series, and he scored his first career victory there in 2019 in what was ultimately the final Eldora Dirt Derby. His 2019 campaign ended with two wins and a Championship Round appearance. 2020 marked HFR’s first season with Toyota as he finished fifteenth in points, while his 2021 campaign began with him sitting sixth in the standings after three races with a best finish of fourth in the most recent round in Las Vegas.

Outside of NASCAR, Friesen is primarily known for his dirt track endeavours, running modifieds and sprint cars with four modified championships at at Fonda Speedway. When Friesen failed to make the playoffs in 2020 and a dirt race conflicted with the Truck Series’ Kansas playoff event, Friesen opted to run the former. Halmar International, a New York-based construction company, maintains close ties to Friesen in both dirt and NASCAR and will sponsor his #77 for the Cup race. Although Spire Motorsports was a Chevrolet team while HFR utilises Toyotas, the latter raced with Chevy from 2016 to 2019.

Friesen’s wife Jessica will also run the Truck race in a #62 truck for HFR in her NASCAR début, making them the first spouses to contest the same Truck Series race and the third in NASCAR history. The Friesens frequently race against each other on dirt, which includes finishing 1–2 on various occasions.

“It’s a dream come true to compete in the Cup Series,” Friesen stated. “It’s the pinnacle of motorsports in North America. As a race fan myself, it has always been something I’ve dreamed about doing. […]

“[T]he whole Spire Motorsports group has been very welcoming. There’s some stuff we can take from our dirt experience with the truck at Eldora and apply to the Cup car, to hopefully be very competitive at Bristol. Thanks to Halmar International for coming on board as a partner for this whole deal, and thanks to (team co-owners) T.J. Puchyr, Jeff Dickerson and the whole group at Spire Motorsports for the opportunity.”

Spire fields the #7 full-time for Corey LaJoie, who is currently twenty-ninth in points, and the #77 for a variety of drivers. Jamie McMurray drove the #77 in the season-opening Daytona 500 while Xfinity Series regular Justin Haley, who scored the team’s first victory in 2019, has entered every race since. The #77 is twenty-fourth in the owners’ standings with McMurray’s eighth in the 500 as its best finish after five rounds.

The #77 possesses a charter, meaning Friesen is guaranteed a spot in the race.

“Stewart Friesen is an outstanding race car driver and his pedigree on dirt speaks for itself,” Puchyr said. “I’ve watched Stewart with great interest over the last several years. He’s won on dirt and on pavement in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, so we feel like he’s the right driver to put in the #77 for the Food City Dirt Race. He’s a very talented driver, puts in the work and checks all the boxes. We’re thrilled for him make his NASCAR Cup Series début in our car and I’m confident he’ll do a good job.”

Friesen’s addition increases the number of Cup débutants at Bristol to four, joining Chris Windom, Shane Golobic, and Mike Marlar. The Canadian is also one of four confirmed drivers so far who will attempt both the Cup and Truck races alongside Marlar, Chase Briscoe, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr.

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