Dan Fredrickson used consistency to grab his third Dick Trickle 99 championship Friday night at La Crosse Speedway (WI), while pre-race favorite Ty Majeski saw his chances of victory washed away in technical inspection.
With the win, Fredrickson remained the only repeat winner of the memorial championship, winning in 2010, 2014, and now 2016.
Although he did not win any of the three segments, Fredrickson was able to win over Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s Griffin McGrath by just two points. Both drivers relied on consistent finishes, even after being inverted after the first two segments, in order to finish on top at the end.
Fredrickson finished second to Ty Majeski in the first 33-lap segment, after starting on the pole with a new track record, while McGrath started fourth and finished fifth.
It seemed Majeski, who dominated to win last year, would be nearly impossible to beat until it was announced that Majeski’s car was too light for the scales during inspection after the first segment. He would be disqualified for that round, which put him last in the standings entering the second segment.
Andy Jones, who also broke the track record during qualifying, finished third in the segment, and looked to be a major contender after qualifying second until having an issue during the second round, and then his vehicle came to a halt in turn two during the final segment.
Cole Anderson led the field to the green for the second round after the invert, but NASCAR driver Johnny Sauter grabbed the lead 11 laps later after trailing on Anderson’s bumper for several laps. Sauter then used the clean air to gain a two second advantage, but that was all erased when Austin Nason spun in turn three, resulting in a caution. Anderson battled with Sauter for the lead after the restart and prevailed to win the second segment over Sauter.
The field was then inverted once again leaving Derek Kraus to lead the pack to the green for the third and final 33 lap segment. Kraus pulled just slightly ahead, but only for a lap before Majeski easily made the pass to take the lead. Majeski would not look back and would win the final segment, but the passing on the track between the championship contenders began to heat up with 10 laps to go.
Nick Murgic was strong at the beginning of the segment and it looked like he would be a surprise winner, but toward the end he fell several spots and ended up 11th while Fredrickson made his way to finish eighth, and McGrath in fifth.
By the end of the 99 laps, almost every driver was struggling with tire wear and it showed majorly during the final segment as the contenders gained and lost positions through the run.
Fredrickson commented after the race, “Definitely at the end everybody is just sliding around like a bunch of idiots but I slid around better than the rest of them I guess. I got by a couple guys, just had a terrible start, I knew if we could get green flag runs my car would work better than theirs.”
“It’s tough because you have 66 laps on the tires, and they give out really easy so it is all about conserving tires before that” McGrath said after the race. “We were pretty good compared to most. It was fun though.”
Nick Barstad finished seventh, third, and ninth in the segments to claim third in the championship standings, three points behind Fredrickson. Jacob Goede was fourth in the points at the end, four points out of the lead, and Chris Weinkauf was fifth in the standings, only five points away from Fredrickson.
-By Caleb Slouha, Speed51.com Midwest Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com/Bruce Nuttleman