Rudolph Conquers Weedsport Foes

0
328
Erick Rudolph (Dave Dalesandro photo)
Erick Rudolph (Dave Dalesandro photo)

WEEDSPORT, N.Y. — Despite Erick Rudolph leading all 100 laps of the Heroes Remembered 100 at Weedsport Speedway, fans were left amazed at the incredible race they had just witnessed.

Rudolph fought back challenges from some of the best Super DIRTcar Series drivers to ever get behind the wheel of a big-block modified. Billy Decker, Stewart Friesen and Max McLaughlin took turns trying to ground the high-flying Ransomville racer, but all efforts fell short.

With a final lunge, Decker crossed the finish line under the checkered flag alongside the No. 25r, but was unable to complete the pass before the stripe.

Erick Rudolph’s winning ways started early in the day when he cruised to a Heat Race win. Next, he needed a little luck. In the Dig Safely NY 811 Redraw, Rudolph scooped up the outside pole and started next to Mike Mahaney.

On the initial start, Rudolph outdueled Mahaney, and jumped into the lead on lap one, but that was no by means the end of the race.

NASCAR K&N East hot shoe Max McLaughlin was the next driver to test his mettle against Rudolph. McLaughlin found grip and racing room on the topside and took the fight straight to the No. 25r. Rudolph, sensing the young driver on his right side, began to race right up the track to the No. 6H’s door and then going back to the bottom in the corners. These two drivers put on a show for a big crowd of happy race fans.

Eventually, McLaughlin faded and Stewart Friesen took his turn. Rudolph managed to fend off the five-time NAPA Super DIRT Week Champion on multiple restarts. Friesen noted Rudolph’s ability to launch on those restarts was key.

Finally, with perhaps the strongest challenge yet, the crimson red of the Gypsum Express No. 91 began to fill Rudolph’s mirrors. Decker seemed to get stronger and stronger as the laps ticked by. Decker passed Friesen for second inside of ten laps to go. With both drivers cutting through lapped traffic, Decker managed to get a run on Rudolph coming to the finish line and barely missed out on the $7,500 paycheck.

On the finish, Rudolph noted, “I had trouble with a couple of lapped cars. I just couldn’t find a line around them. I definitely had a better car at the beginning and middle of the race than at the end, but nevertheless, we were able to hang on. We’ve got an awesome team here. I don’t know what to say. It’s pretty remarkable. Max and everyone in the pit area are great competitors. I had to change up a few things throughout the race to stay on top.”

Despite falling one position short of the win, Decker was pleased. “We had a great race car,” he said. “I would have liked to have raced a little longer, certainly. He’s [Erick Rudolph] been going good here for two years now. He had speed all night. I’m happy with the Gypsum Racing car, with the way it came alive. We had some speed in the Feature and it’s the best I’ve run here in a while.”

Friesen felt he was just a tick off of having the winning car. “DKM car was good. We were a half a tenth (of a second) off. It was tough sticking with Erick firing off on the restarts. At the end, we got stuck behind a lapped car there and Decker got us on the outside,” he said. The No. 44 was clearly searching for more on the track. “The top was good early. Max showed me that line up there but then it got dirty and went away,” noted Friesen.

The KSE Hard-Charger Award winner Jimmy Phelps started twenty-third and diced his way through the field to finish sixth.