PORT ROYAL, Pa. – When asked if not having a Pennsylvania Speedweek title gnaws at him, Freddie Rahmer nodded without much hesitation.
Before Rahmer went on, however, his easy-going personality immediately detached him from the void on his resume.
“A little bit,” Rahmer said. “It’s definitely something I want to have. You work all year for it. But I’d like to win three or four of the races and make some money. I don’t know. You just do what you can. That’s all.”
On Friday at Williams Grove, Rahmer will embark on his fourth go-around at a Pennsylvania Speedweek title, having fallen short by a combined six point positions in his previous three tries.
In 2017, Rahmer finished third in the standings, 120 points behind winner Lucas Wolfe. In 2018 he placed fourth, 62 points behind the late Greg Hodnett. His most shortcoming occurred last year when Rahmer came 68 points shy of the championship to Wolfe.
Besides Anthony Macri’s three-race win streak and Kyle Larson, who has won nine of his last 13 races, Rahmer has as much momentum as anyone heading into the grueling nine-race, nine-day swing, winning three of his last five races.
“I think our motors are running really good and our car is in a good spot right now,” Rahmer said.
After some sore luck to begin the backlogged 2020 season, Rahmer got back to his winning ways June 14 at Selinsgrove Speedway after taking advantage of an opportunistic pill draw.
Two weeks prior to that, he started on the pole at Selinsgrove but faded to finish seventh because of a leaky left-rear tire.
The following night after his Selinsgrove win, Rahmer rolled to a win at Lincoln Speedway, then backed it up with another win at Lincoln last weekend when he drove from 13th to victory lane.
When Rahmer is comfortable, he can be successful just about anywhere. But going into Speedweek, Rahmer knows he needs to replicate those nights at Lincoln and Selinsgrove in order to put himself in a prime spot for the title.
The ringers – Larson, Sammy Swindell, Rico Abreu and even non-winged ace Robert Ballou – are coming to town, and positions at the front of the field will be even harder to come if minor slip-ups arise.
The key for Rahmer will be getting off to a strong start – like a top three in the standings, at the very least, strong start – specifically in the opening five races at Williams Grove, Lincoln (twice on Saturday and Monday), Selinsgrove, and Grandview.
The reason being? Two of the remaining four races are at Port Royal Speedway, including the Speedweek championship race on July 4, a track Rahmer has just two wins at over the years.
“Out of all the races, these [at Port Royal] might be a little weaker than the rest of the tracks,” Rahmer said. “I feel like we have as good of a shot as anybody, but there’s a lot of racing and anything can happen.”
Hagerstown and a $15,000-to-win Williams Grove show are sandwiched between the Port Royal races, two shows that are wild cards in a way. Hagerstown plays host to just one or two sprint car races a year, and the mega purse Williams Grove poses could attract many drivers.
In spite of holding just one race this season, Williams Grove is a strong suit for Rahmer, the 2017 champion at the track. While others who don’t normally compete at Williams Grove think the lack of races will play into their favor, Rahmer thinks it will actually help him.
“It’s hard to beat experience, you know?” Rahmer said of Williams Grove.
But no matter the amount of experience or setup package planned for the feature, the week will ultimately come down to time trials and a lucky pill draw or two … or three or four.
“It definitely comes down to time trials,” Rahmer said. “And you need some luck with the pill draw.”
Almost everything aligned for Rahmer last year in the pursuit of his first Speedweek title. He entered the final night 10 points ahead of Wolfe but by the time the feature started, he trailed by four points, needing to just finish ninth or higher and beat Wolfe in the process.
Wolfe ended up winning the feature and rolled to his fourth Speedweek title, while Rahmer settled for 10th.
“In a perfect world you don’t have to worry about points on the last night if you ran well the whole week,” Rahmer said. “We’ve been close.”
If there’s one thing Rahmer gets from his legendary father, big Fred – a 13-time Pennsylvania Speedweek champion himself – is his easygoing, poised personality.
He has his mother’s organization and neatness, Rahmer says, possibly best used in racing for prioritizing what is most important in a hectic, pressure-packed setting.
So, Rahmer will do just that heading into “the most fun week of the year” for him, and that’s prioritizing what’s most important and letting the rest play out.
“You just have to fight the whole night,” Rahmer said. “That’s all you can do and all we’re going to do.”
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