Payton Freeman completes successful Hell Tour campaign
Payton Freeman emerged battered but confident from the “Hell Tour” of the UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals.
Although he didn’t get the win he was looking for, Freeman finished the grueling 24 race list by leading a total of 84 laps, setting the fastest time in seven races and winning seven races, all of which helped him finish second the points standings behind Bobby Pierce.
Freeman was proud of the progress he and his team made during the Hell Tour, adding that the consistency he’s shown in almost every single event has only motivated him even more to continue his Dirt Late Model making the program one of the best in the country.
“It was a really good learning experience,” Freeman said. “There have been a lot of positive learnings from the last two months and I think we’ve shown a lot of speed. I’m way ahead of what I would have been had I decided not to do the Hell Tour and hopefully we can apply what we’ve learned to the rest of the year.”
Freeman admitted that the entire duration of the Hell Tour was both physically and mentally taxing.
With the series running almost every evening except Mondays and when it rains, Freeman said he had to be extra vigilant to make sure his car didn’t have any problems and that he was up against a talented field of drivers including Pierce, Brian Shirley and, much more can remain competitive.
Freeman also had to quickly adapt to numerous tracks he’d never seen prior to the Hell Tour before immediately turning to prepare for the next event. The process proved frustrating, but there were only a handful of nights that Freeman didn’t struggle for a top 10.
In addition to his fast times and race wins, Freeman recorded six top-five finishes during the Hell Tour, three of which were on the podium. Freeman also completed over 95 percent of the total laps at the Hell Tour, failing to complete only a single event.
Still, Freeman knows he’s missed out on some potential Hell Tour wins. His most dominant performance of the season came at Clarksville Speedway, where he led from pole for the first 33 laps before being passed by Shirley to victory.
For Freeman, the Hell Tour’s most heartbreaking loss came at Tri-State Speedway, where he found himself at the end of an intense battle with Pierce.
“I really felt like we should have won that race in Tri-State,” Freeman said. “Pierce was second but I had a little bobble and he got past me. He’s someone who can go anywhere in the country and win big races, but the last few months have given me a lot of confidence knowing I can run with these guys. We just need a little more experience.”
While Freeman wished he could reiterate certain aspects of his Hell Tour campaign, he said the exciting schedule taught him not to hesitate with his decisions behind the wheel, especially when it comes to navigating slower traffic.
Freeman now feels better prepared to tackle the rest of his 2022 schedule after the Hell Tour. He expects a lot of tough competition but believes he can start racking up consistent wins using the knowledge he’s accumulated over the past two months.
“Our goal is to apply what we’ve learned over the year to the rest of the season,” Freeman said. “I would like to get some wins, but we have to get over that hump. We’ve all busted our butts and put in the time and effort needed. We’re right there, but we just need to capitalize.”
Payton Freeman would like to thank all of 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, Schaeffers 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.