DRUMMONDVILLE, Canada – Mere weeks after first sitting behind the wheel of his new ride, young Modified driver Erick Rudolph picked up a win in a Super DIRTcar Series race.
A late-race charge took the Mike Payne-owned Page Trucking car to victory Tuesday at Autodrome Drummond.
“Today we just hit it right on, where we needed to be,” the 22-year-old out of Ransomville, N.Y., said after the 100-lap Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modified Series race Tuesday. “It started a little slow, but slowly and surely we worked up to to the front.”
Rudolph, the defending DIRTcar 358-Modified Series champion, started 17th on the grid after finishing fifth in his heat and was able to make the right moves to claim the lead over veteran racer and eight-time Super DIRTcar Series champion Brett Hearn with just 10 laps to go.
Polesitter Matt Billings led the race at the green flag, followed by Steve Paine in second, Brett Hearn in third, Larry Wight in fourth and Monday’s feature winner Danny Johnson in fifth. Paine and Hearn gathered momentum in the first few laps, with Paine passing billings for the lead in lap 4 and Hearn passing Paine for the lead in lap 9.
The Gypsum Express Ltd. No. 99L wheeled by Wight stopped in turn two during lap 11, bringing the first caution of the race. Hearn was strong on restarts Tuesday, and didn’t give competitors behind him any opportunity to challenge his position. Meanwhile, Rudolph was working his way forward, making his way to 14th after the lap-18 restart.
Billy Dunn challenged Rudolph for second in lap 88, and Rudolph powered forward, not only fending off Dunn’s challenges, but also making his way closer to the leader. Rudolph ran bumper-to-bumper with Hearn and wheel-to-wheel with Dunn, until Dunn fell back and Rudolph was able to pull alongside Hearn. Rudolph took the lead in lap 90 and never looked back.
“I was able to size him up. It seemed like I was a little quicker than him,” said Rudolph, whose win Tuesday marks the first Super DIRTcar Series victory of his career. “Then, when I got a run, I took the spot.”
Defending series champion Hearn, while hoping for a win Tuesday, was pleased with a strong second-place finish.
“We had a very fast car. I’m really proud of how the team came here ready to race,” Hearn said of his No. 20 Madsen Motorsports team. “We laid down some good laps in time trials both nights, we had good heat race runs, but we sealed the right rear tire and we got beat by a faster car at the end. It was a great race, obviously I’m disappointed, but at the same time I’m really proud.”
Erick Rudolph, Brett Hearn, Billy Dunn,Gary Tomkins, Matt Billings, Matt Sheppard, Jimmy Phelps, Steve Paine, Pete Britten, Rich Scagliotta ,Stewart Friesen, Danny Johnson, Steve Bernier, Justin Haers ,Billy VanInwegen, Billy Decker, Dany Bilodeau, Gino Clair, Pat Ward, Dominic Dufault, Keith Flach, Jean Boissonneault, Patrick Beaumier, Claude Brouillard, Sebastien Gougeon, Mario Clair, Steve Bernard, Yan Bussiere, Mike Perrotte