Same race, same team, same last name, but that doesn’t mean it’s less competitive.
On Sunday, husband and wife duo Stewart Friesen, 37, and Jessica Friesen, 35, will compete against each other in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. The pair compete against each other frequently, but this is their first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event as competitors. It is the first time in NASCAR history that a husband and wife compete against each other in this event and on the same team.
“When it comes to the race, it’s just, ‘Good luck, I love you, see you when it’s done,’ Jessica said. “We are competitors when we put on our helmets.” Her husband, Stewart, agreed, saying, “When the races happen, they throw the green flag and she’s just another competitor.”
They both competed professionally before meeting. On Sunday, they will hit the track with their Toyota trucks, Jessica in the No. 62 and Stewart in the No. 52. They have been on the same team for the past three years and say they lean on each other as teammates. team. .
“We work as a team to try to improve,” Stewart said, calling his wife a “great teammate” and a “fierce competitor.” She said she brings a kind of analytical experience to racing, and her experience with gravel racing will be a useful asset for Saturday, a race to be held on a gravel track. That is unusual, as this series has not been contested on gravel since 1970. The race was originally scheduled for Saturday, but was postponed due to rain.
Although there are many relationships on and off the track in racing, there are few married couples who compete with each other. According to NASCAR, Sawyer and Moise were the last husbands to compete against each other in a national series, the Xfinity Series event in 1998. Before them, it was Frank and Sara Christian on the Daytona Beach Road Course in 1949.
The Friesens have been married since 2014 and even competed with each other a couple of days after their wedding (in that race, Stewart finished first and Jessica second). The two have a son, Parker, 5, who joins them in competitions across the country.
Parker was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder as a young child, and for the first few years of his life, the family made it a priority to provide him with the care he needed. Going to competitions as a family took a back seat. Parker has responded well to his treatments and now they enjoy running together.
“It’s amazing to share this with him and see that he loves him as much as we do,” Jessica said. “Now that we do it as a family, it’s fun.” He said that there are many families that compete and that hanging out on the track is a social event where Parker makes friends.
“He loves it when we win, but if we don’t win, everything is fine in his world,” Stewart said.
Correction: Due to the weather, NASCAR canceled qualifying races and Jessica Friesen was unable to compete. A spokesman for Friesen said in a statement to TODAY: “We are discussing bringing her back for another race, probably Knoxville, but that remains to be determined.”