PORT COLBORNE, Ontario — After a stunning late-race charge, Erick Rudolph took victory in the DIRTcar 358-Modified Series 100-lapper Tuesday at Humberstone Speedway.
The defending series champion, Rudolph wrestled the lead from small block star Mat Williamson with just four laps remaining in the feature race.
“I just started reeling him in,” Rudolph said. “We raced each other hard for a little bit, had a lot of fun doing that, then with four laps to go I was able to get by him and get the win.”
The battle began early in the race, with Williamson starting eighth on the grid and Rudolph sixth. By lap 20, Williamson was grappling with initial race leader Mike Bowman for second place and Rudolph was close behind in third. Todd Gordon was in the lead after a quick move off a restart in lap 13 took him past polesitter Bowman.
Shane Pierce spun in lap 22 to bring the race’s third caution. The subsequent restart presented an opportunity for Williamson, and he took full advantage, powering ahead at the green flag for the lead. Williamson kept his position through the next 40 caution-riddled laps.
After a lap-59 restart, a series of green-flag laps put the leaders among lapped traffic by lap 76. At first Williamson struggled with the extra cars on the track, letting Rudolph come within a few car lengths of his rear bumper.
With two cars between his No. 25 ride and the leader, Rudolph’s advance was challenged, but Rudolph did not let it slow him down.
On the restart, Rudolph was fast on the top side and kept pace with Williamson. Finally, in lap 96, Rudolph was able to find enough speed to overtake Williamson for the lead and the win.
“When the race first started I realized we had missed the setup a little bit, but I knew as the race went on that it would get better, and I was just waiting and waiting,” Rudolph said. “I almost got to him, but I got caught up with a couple of lapped cars. Then the yellow came out. From there it was just working on him.”
“It was tricky to get by him, but we made it work,” Rudolph continued.
Williamson stayed strong for a second-place finish.
“We were too good too early,” Williamson said. “We sealed our tire over there, and that was our fate. We were just lucky to hang in there for second (place). If the race had been a little bit longer, we would have ended up third or fourth. It was a good run for Erick, and we just have to work on it for next time.”
Pete Bicknell finished third after starting fourth. Drastic equipment changes after the night’s qualifying rounds helped Bicknell stay strong throughout the feature.
Chad Brachmann finished fourth after staring third and polesitter Mike Bowman placed fifth. Rounding out the top 10 were Ryan Susice, Gordon, Mario Clair, Lance Willix and Tyler McPherson.