THOROLD, Ontario — Erick Rudolph outfoxed local Merrittville Speedway stars Ryan Susice and Gary Lindberg to pick up his fourth Super DIRTcar Series win of the season on Monday night.
Just when the capacity crowd thought it would be a duel between two of their best drivers for the $8,000 payday, Rudolph’s No. 25r came roaring through the top of the field. Finally, Rudolph made the decisive move with five laps to go and captured the checkered flag.
Rudolph started in sixth and kept the top three in his sights all race. Before battling Lindberg, the pilot of the No. 25r’s toughest challenge was the Billy Whittaker Fast-Time Award recipient Billy Decker in his crimson red Gypsum Express No. 91. Decker had been fast all day and refused to let Rudolph get by easy.
From there, lapped traffic was the key to Rudolph tracking down the leader Gary Lindberg and second-place Ryan Susice. The No. 28t and No. 3rs may have had the right strategy for the track, but Rudolph would not be denied. He started entering turn three high and then rounding off the turn and running downhill through turn four. This allowed him to catch and run down the leaders when they reached traffic on the straightaways.
“I was a little bit better in lapped traffic and about the same speed one-on-one. It seemed like he [Gary Lindberg] needed to be in his specific lane. The local 358 Modifieds here are the best in the Northeast. It was tough out there. I don’t think I would have gotten him if it wasn’t for lapped traffic. Nevertheless, here we are in victory lane. The car was performing up to expectations,” said Rudolph.
The No. 25r team has been on an absolute hot streak as of late. For Rudolph, it comes down to the decisions they’ve been making as a team.
“We’ve been making the right decisions,” Rudolph said. “We show up at the track with the same car and we just gotta make the right decisions and wise choices. Hopefully, we can keep being smart. I’d like to thank all my fans, sponsors, and my crew here beside me. They’ve got my back no matter what and it’s nice knowing that. I’d like to thank the track for putting this race on.”
After leading a vast majority of the laps, Gary Lindberg, a surprise top-six qualifier in last year’s Billy Whittaker Cars 200, had to settle for second place.
“We had a good car for sure,” Lindberg said. “When I saw Erick [Rudolph] on that restart and I knew he was going to be fast. But then I didn’t see him after a few laps, so I thought we were good. But then I came upon those lapped cars and they were racing side by side and probably not watching the flagman either so I couldn’t get them.”
Last year’s Merrittville Speedway Super DIRTcar Series winner Ryan Susice finished third.
“We were just a little off from where we needed to be,” Suice said. “We were better on the long run and we had a caution right at the end. Congrats to Erick, he’s on fire. Gary had a hell of a run. I think it really speaks volumes about what we’ve got here in terms of competition to have two local guys up in the front.”
Chad Chevalier won the sportsman feature and Jeremy Cooper topped the four-cylinder race.
Feature (100 laps): 1. 25-Erick Rudolph [$8,000]; 2. 28-Gary Lindberg [$4,000]; 3. 38RS-Ryan Susice [$2,500]; 4. 91-Billy Decker [$1,800]; 5. 6M-Mat Williamson [$1,600]; 6. 42P-Pete Bicknell [$1,400]; 7. 71-Mike Bowman [$1,300]; 8. 21A-Peter Britten [$1,200]; 9. 3B-Chad Brachmann [$1,100]; 10. 37S-Tyler Willard [$1,000]; 11. 99L-Larry Wight [$800]; 12. M1-Dave Marcuccilli [$700]; 13. 21J-Danny Johnson [$600]; 14. 9S-Matt Sheppard [$575]; 15. 26-Ryan Godown [$550]; 16. 35-Mike Mahaney [$525]; 17. 7F-Matt Farnham [$500]; 18. 96-Fred Carleton [$500]; 19. 111-Demetrios Drellos [$500]; 20. 98H-Jimmy Phelps [$500]; 21. 2X-Tom Neale [$500]; 22. 3RS-Dalton Slack [$500]; 23. 8-Mark D’Ilario [$500]; 24. 2L-Jack Lehner [$500]; 25. R2-Rusty Smith [$500]; 26. 17-Marcus Dinkins [$500]; 27. 2K-Rob Knapp [$500]; 28. 37-Paul StSauveur [$500]