Columbia, S.C. (Aug. 9, 2022) – Payton Freeman emerged from the UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals ‘Hell Tour’ battered but confident.
Although he did not get the victory he was searching for, Freeman wrapped up the grueling 24-race slate by leading 84 total laps, setting the fastest time in seven races, and scoring seven heat race wins, all of which helped him finish second in the point standings behind Bobby Pierce.
Freeman was proud of the progress he and his team made during the Hell Tour, adding that the consistency he displayed in nearly every single event has only motivated him more towards making his Dirt Late Model program one of the best in the entire country.
“It was a really good learning experience,” Freeman said. “There were a lot of positive takeaways from the past two months, and I think we showed a lot of speed. I’m way ahead of where I would have been if I decided not to do the Hell Tour and hopefully, we can apply what we learned over the rest of the year.”
Freeman admitted that the entire duration of the Hell Tour was both physical and mentally exhausting.
With the series racing almost every evening except for Mondays and rainouts, Freeman said that he had to be extra vigilant towards making sure no problems developed on his car and that he could stay competitive against a talented field of drivers that included Pierce, Brian Shirley and many more.
Freeman also had to quickly adapt to numerous tracks he had never seen prior to the Hell Tour before immediately turning around to prepare for the next event. The process proved to be frustrating, but there were only a handful of evenings in which Freeman was not contending for a Top 10.
Along with his fast times and heat victories, Freeman recorded six Top 5 finishes during the Hell Tour, three of which were on the podium. Freeman also completed over 95 percent of the total laps in the Hell Tour and only failed to finish just one event.
Despite this, Freeman knows a few potential Hell Tour victories slipped away from him. His most dominant performance of the season came at Clarksville Speedway, where he led the opening 33 laps from the pole before getting passed by Shirley for the win.
For Freeman, the most heartbreaking loss of the Hell Tour came at Tri-State Speedway, where he found himself on the losing end of an intense battle with Pierce.
“I really felt like we should have won that race at Tri-State,” Freeman said. “Pierce was running second, but I had one little bobble and he got by me. He’s somebody that can go anywhere in the country and win big races, but the past couple of months has given me a lot of confidence knowing I can run with these guys. We just need a little more experience.”
While Freeman wishes he could redo certain aspects of his Hell Tour campaign, he said the exhilarating schedule taught him to not be hesitant with his decision-making behind the wheel, especially when it comes to navigating through slower traffic.
Freeman now feels more prepared to tackle the remainder of his 2022 schedule following the Hell Tour. He expects plenty of stiff competition but believes he can start accumulating consistent wins by using the knowledge obtained over the past two months.
“Our goal is to take what we’ve learned through the entire year and apply it to the rest of the season,” Freeman said. “I’d love to get a few wins, but we have to get over that hump. We’ve all worked our butts off and put in the necessary time and effort. We’re right there at it, but we just have to capitalize.”
Payton Freeman would like to thank all his supporters and partners, including his parents, crew and fans as well as Freeman Plumbing, Coltman Farms, MPM Marketing, Stilo, KRC Power Steering, K1 RaceGear, Schaeffer’s Oil, Base Racing Fuel, SRI Performance, Captial Race Cars, Shelton Trucking, Chattham & Son Tile, Rod Roberts Trucking, Collins Signs, Sweet Victory Apparel, Accu-Force Dyno & Testers, Swift Springs, Penske Racing Shocks and Strange Oval.