Rudolph Conquers Airborne 358 Field

Erick Rudolph (center) shares victory lane with Lance Willix II and Tim Fuller. (DIRTcar photo)
Erick Rudolph (center) shares victory lane with Lance Willix II and Tim Fuller. (DIRTcar photo)

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Eric Rudolph got the best of home-track hero Lance Willix II on a late-race restart to win Tuesday night’s DIRTcar 358 Modified Series feature at Airborne Speedway.

Tim Fuller battled hard inside the top five all race and finished on the final step of the podium.

Rudolph and Mike Mahaney brought the 30-car field to the green flag. Mahaney got the initial jump on the outside and powered away from Rudolph. The No. 25r battled back and traded blows with Mahaney. Then on a restart, Plattsburgh regular Lance Willix II passed both of the dueling leaders in one shot.

The No. 31 used a unique racing line where he entered the corners low and hooked the left side tires on the edge of the track. This seemed to rotate the car and allow Willix to get on the throttle earlier than Rudolph or Mahaney.

Willix kept up his pace and maintained the lead until a dramatic incident on the front stretch brought out the red flag.

As witnessed, Kyle Dingwalll made contact with the frontstretch wall and veered in front of oncoming race traffic. Several cars, including Steve Bernier and Jessey Mueller, slid through the infield, which caused Mueller’s car to flip and land on top of Bernier.

The battle at the front was far from over.

“We had a lot of time to sit there and think. I didn’t know if I’d have an opportunity to pass him,” said Rudolph.

Throughout the race the implement tires at the inside of the track get clipped and can change the preferred racing line depending on where they move,

When the field went back to green on lap 90, Rudolph had to make a calculated move.

“That tire down there was in the infield for a long time and it had everyone glued to the bottom. It moved up a bit and made the track racy again. We were able to make the move around him [Willix],” Rudolph said of his racing-winning move.

That move made Rudolph and his team $4,000 richer. This was the second time the No. 25r has visited victory lane in series competition in 2019.

Plattsburgh still a very new track for Rudolph.

He noted, “I’ve only been here three times. I did a race here one time when it was asphalt. Track time helps anywhere you go.”

It’s not how Willix II wanted this one to end but a second-place finish with the best DIRTcar 358 modified drivers around is a great accomplishment

“This is the way we want to end the year. On a high note. We have momentum going into these big races at the end of the year. To be able to compete with Erick and Timmy and all these guys, it means something to us,” said Willix.

Fuller powered his way up to finish in third.

“I had the second-best car on the track. Erick and Lance did a really good job. It was a long race and fortunately, we ended up in the top three which is good any time you get into what of these deals,” Fuller said.

The finish:

Feature (100 laps) 1. Erick Rudolph 2. Lance Willix II 3. Tim Fuller 4. Jordan McCreadie 5. Mike Mahaney 6. Mike Maresca 7. Michael Parent 8. David Marcuccilli 9. Rocky Warner 10. Corey Wheeler 11. Demetrios Drellos 12. Ryan Bartlett 13. Mike Stacey 14. Yan Bussiere 15. Matt Woodruff 16. Jeremy Roy 17. Matt Depew 18. Dany Gagne 19. Kyle Dingwall 20. Steve Bernier 21. Danny Johnson 22. Jessey Mueller 23. Mathieu Boisvert 24. Preston Forbes 25. Louie Jackson Jr. 26. Chris Raabe 27. Mario Clair 28. Ronnie Davis III 29. Perry Francis 30. Ran McLean