ELKO, Minn. – While Dan Fredrickson and Jacob Goede were fighting to the finish in last year’s ARCA Midwest Tour Thunderstruck 93, 2012 series champion Jonathan Eilen had the best seat in the house.
Fredrickson and Goede made contact on the last lap and Fredrickson took the victory as Eilen came home in third.
“I thought for sure I was either going to win the race or the two of them (Fredrickson and Goede) were going to be on top of my car,” joked Eilen.
It wasn’t that Jonathan didn’t want to join the fight, but his focus last year was on the big picture.
“Danny got by me with about 20 to go as we were running second. I don’t think he was looking behind him. I was looking at points. I didn’t want to push my luck. I knew third place was gonna be better than 20th. I had to be in protection mode,” Eilen said.
This year, however, could be a different story.
“My focus this year is on the win. I’m kind of out for revenge after having the car to win in the ARCA race earlier this year and getting the short end of the stick. If I would have had 50 more laps that day, I think I could have had it. The gloves will be out. We hope to defend our spot,” Eilen said.
Eilen is currently fifth in the point standings and with only two races remaining his chance for a championship this season is unfortunately not possible. However, in a way, it gives Eilen a little more determination for this weekend’s race.
“Now that I’m not concerned about the championship, if I am in the same situation as last year, I won’t have a problem doing the same thing Danny did. Of course, I’m not going to try to wreck someone, but if I’m going for the win and there’s a hole, I’m gonna go for it,” Eilen said.
Eilen, Fredrickson and Goede might have more than just getting another win on their minds when it comes to the Thunderstruck 93. The race means a lot to Minnesota drivers because of who it stands for.
Dan Ryan lost his life to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) on January 2, 2009 and his family created this event in his honor.
“This race is one of my favorites. I grew up watching Dan (Ryan). I had some good, hard battles with Jake (Ryan), too. So I have a lot of great memories and this is my home track,” Eilen said.
While the team has not had a championship year, Eilen is satisfied with the finishes they’ve had including a win at Grundy earlier this season.
“So far this year, it’s gone good for the races that we’ve finished. We just haven’t been able to catch that break. We had problems at MIS. At the Dells we got a flat. We blew a couple motors at Milwaukee. But when we do finish, we finish in the top five. When you have guys like Danny (Fredrickson) and Chris (Wimmer) who haven’t had the bad luck we’ve had, it makes it difficult to catch up. I think the horseshoe fell out of my shoes,” Eilen laughed.
“It’s just been uncontrollable luck. Not much the team can do. That saying about luck having nothing to do with racing is false,” Eilen added.
Luck or no luck, Eilen, the crew, and all of their sponsors never give up and stick together through it all.
“I have to thank my crew for putting up with us during the hard times, and the sponsors sticking with us and supporting us. This year hasn’t gone like last year. Everyone continues to take time away from their families and we appreciate that so much,” Eilen said.
If there is ever an example of a dedicated team, Eilen Motorsports is it. Earlier this year one of Eilen’s crew members, Jake Adelmann, was seriously injured in an accident, but he has only missed one race despite all he has had to go through. Anthony Lyman has every reason to stay home as his young son is battling cancer. In fact, Jonathan has told him to stay home, but he chooses to come and the entire team stands by each other and pulls together.
So while they may not get a back-to-back championship this season, the team is fully determined to go for the win at each and every race and this weekend will be no different.