For the first time in 15 years, Dan Fredrickson made the 1,500-mile trip south to New Smyrna Beach, Florida for Speedweeks. The Lakeville, Minnesota driver found success at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing years ago, including a trio of top-three finishes and one win in 2001, followed by another successful campaign in 2002. With those notches in his belt, combined with his success in the Midwest over the last decade, Fredrickson had high hopes for his return to New Smyrna Speedway last week.
“We had a great time and won races,” Fredrickson told Speed51.com of his trips to Speedweeks in the early 2000’s. “I’ve been wanting to go back for years now but they seemed to wreck so much stuff. This year I decided to put together the cheapest car possible and go try it out.”
Unfortunately, Fredrickson’s week in the Sunshine State didn’t go according to plan. It started in Minnesota, where Fredrickson was forced to make an engine swap just before leaving.
“The car I purchased had an engine problem and I fixed that, but I had to break the seals in doing so,” Fredrickson told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I thought Ricky would let me run it since I talked to the builder and had pictures of the repairs. That didn’t go as planned, so I switched it over to a Chevy 9:1 that I had. We went to the chassis dyno and knew we were probably in trouble. Thinking it wouldn’t matter was my first mistake.”
Fredrickson and his small crew arrived at New Smyrna around noon on Monday and had the mindset of using day one as a test session to get their bearing, then go after it on Tuesday. However, more problems arose for the No. 36 team, putting them behind the eight ball once again.
“In the first practice the transmission hit the race track and broke the weld holding the bottom plate on,” Fredrickson explained. “That really caused us a lot of work that could have been spent on the chassis to go faster.
“We decided we would use the Monday race for more test laps. That went okay. Tuesday we raised the engine up more to get the transmission up and that lead us to an even smaller air cleaner on top to fit the templates. We had the car handling really well but even passing the cars in back I was being beat by 10 feet down the straightaway.”
Despite all the other issues, Fredrickson’s intention was to keep plugging away. He ordered a new transmission and was ready to start Wednesday with a new outlook; however, Mother Nature had other plans. Wednesday’s races were cancelled and with the Super Late Models already having a scheduled day off on Friday, Fredrickson decided it was better to just make the trip back to Minnesota early and beat the huge snow storm that was engulfing the Midwest.
“The entire way home I couldn’t stop thinking about all the things I should have done differently,” Fredrickson commented. “In 20 years of racing this was my worst outing. I was unprepared. There were only three of us and we basically never had a chance. It really bothered me. We got home at 2:00 am. I have a brand new Hamner engine and I wanted to put in. I figured if I left by 9:00 am I could be back down for Saturday’s 100-lap race, but the snow storm basically shut down any way south.”
Struggling at the track was something new for the Minnesota driver who has recorded nearly 20 wins over the past decade in the Midwest. While the No. 36 finds himself in Victory Lane fairly often, he hasn’t put together a full season of racing since 2013 in the ARCA Midwest Tour. And prior to that, it was 2010.
While he did race a handful of times last year, picking up a pair of wins at Elko Speedway (MN) and a runner-up finish at Octoberfest, with a family and his own business it’s hard to find the time to get to the track. However, Fredrickson hopes that is something that can change this year.
“I want to really do more racing. I have a couple of really awesome sponsors, mainly Herman’s Landscape Supply in Jordan, Minnesota,” Fredrickson said. “I have good cars and all the equipment I could need really. Time and people are my issue.”
Fredrickson will look to find more time and more people for the 2017 season in the Midwest, and if he does that don’t be surprised to find his No. 36 battling near the front.
-By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Editor – Twitter: @JWimm22
-Photo credit: Speed51.com