Fonda Speedway certainly isn’t Tim McCreadie’s home track, but the Watertown driver may have a little advantage Wednesday night when the World of Outlaws late model series makes its first visit to the historic track on the Mohawk River.
McCreadie has been to victory lane twice while racing big-block modifieds at Fonda. He won a Super DIRTcar Series race a decade ago, and also took a checkered flag in 2004 while driving Sweetners Plus teammate Vic Coffey’s modified. Three years ago, in the 2010 season finale, he ran second to Stewart Friesen in a 100-lap race.
“I probably haven’t run more than 15 or 20 total races there, but I’ve usually run good,” said McCreadie. “It means a lot to win there, to stand on that checkerboard square. My dad [big-block legend Bob McCreadie] won some big races there, so it was cool when I finally got a win there, too.”
McCreadie’s advantage is that he’s made enough visits to the track to know the quirks, including the bowed back straightaway.
“It has a big, sweeping backstretch,” said McCreadie, who was the World of Outlaws late model series Rookie of the Year in 2004, and the series champion in 2006. “It’s basically one long, sweeping corner down the backstretch, so you carry a lot of speed through three and four. It races a little bit like Merrittville the way the backstretch is shaped. Fonda is bigger and the surface is different, but like Merrittville, you don’t really lift until you get to the exit of turn four.”
Although he’s raced a big-block at Fonda, McCreadie has never been in a late model on the Track of Champions. But Coffey and Billy Decker have late model experience from running in the Lucas Oil late model series. Coffey finished second in the Lucas Oil race at Fonda in 2010, and Decker was fifth in 2010 and 17th in 2011. Both are expected to be at Fonda Wednesday with the World of Outlaws
Another member of the World of Outlaws series who has some experience at Fonda is Tim Fuller, who also hails from Watertown. He’s never won a race at Fonda, but he’s made enough stops at the Track of Champions to know what to expect on Wednesday.
“I’ve always liked Fonda,” said Fuller. “It’s easy to drive when the surface is heavy, but when it gets slippery, there’s a special knack to getting around the place. Guys like Jack Johnson and Bobby Varin, they grew up there and they have that knack.
“It’s basically just a big circle, so it’s all about momentum. The line will be on the bottom for a while, then it’ll go to the top; it just goes back and forth. That’s why it’s always so racy.”
Both McCreadie and Fuller are glad to see Fonda on the WoO schedule.
“I always like being close to home and racing for good money,” said McCreadie, who has two wins under his belt this year. “It’s nice to see Fonda [promoter Ric Lucia] stepping up to the plate and having a big late model show.”
“I need a win bad,” said Fuller, who is winless in his last 116 WoO late model series starts since taking the checkered flag on July 17, 2010 at Merrittville. “Maybe racing close to home will be what we need to get back to victory lane.”
That will all depend on how quickly Friesen adapts to a late model. Friesen, the defending modified champion at Fonda, chalked up his fifth modified win of the year Saturday night and will be driving a late model out of veteran Chub Frank’s stable tonight.
“It’s going to be a little bit of a change, but I’m looking forward to it,” said Friesen, the Canadian native who now makes his home in Sprakers. “We’ve done OK the few times we’ve run a sprint car, so adapting quickly to a new type of car is something I think we can do. Between hot laps and time trials, there should, hopefully, be enough time to figure things out to where we can at least be competitive.”
The Outlaws will be running a 50-lap feature, paying $10,000 to win. The racing card will also include a 30-lap modified feature, which will pay $3,000 to win.
Spectator gates open at 5 p.m., with racing starting at 7. General admission is $30 for adults and $3 for children between the ages of 6 and 11.