Rudolph Rocks Atlantic City

Erick Rudolph (5) during TQ midget action at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., in 2012 (Bruce Bennett photo)
Erick Rudolph (5) won Saturday's TQ midget feature inside Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. (Bruce Bennett photo)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — In front of one of the largest crowds in Boardwalk Hall’s Gamblers Classic 10-year history, Erick Rudolph dominated the weekend events.

After winning the Micro Sprint features Friday and Saturday, Rudolph saved his best effort for last when he overpowered the competition, winning the Gamblers Classic for Three Quarter Midgets.

The race was a three-man affair from the outset. Front row starters Stewart Friesen and Rudolph paced the field and sparred with each other through a series of double file restarts. In one of those instances, Rudolph seemed to gain the upper hand only to have the start called back by officials who added a two position penalty for the infraction.

Undeterred, Rudolph passed Friesen after challenging for the lead for several laps. Friesen seemed destined for a second place finish but a late race tangle with a surging Billy Pauch saw Friesen spin and Pauch penalized.

Rudolph ruled the roost as the laps ran out. The big mover in the last five laps was Ryan Smith, who was trying to put a 600 Micro in the winner’s circle for the first time. Smith settled for second place after a sterling drive ahead of Jon Gambuti, ninth starter Mike Lichty and sixteenth place starter Tim Buckwalter.

The 20-lap Micro Sprint feature turned upside down on a mid-race tangle in the midst of heavy lapped traffic. Matt Janisch and Lou Cicconi, Jr., running first and second, and pulling away from the field, encountered back markers. Janisch collected one of the lapped cars and nearly flipped. Cicconi clipped Janisch’s slowing car and reduced speed himself but was able to keep his car running.

Cicconi thus inherited the lead and a clear track while Janisch restarted at the back of the field. Erick Rudolph, Friday night’s 600 Micro feature winner, took up the chase as Cicconi held back all challenges. With three laps to go, Cicconi and Rudolph went at it head to head. On the final lap, Rudolph ducked under Cicconi in turn one, made a clean pass off turn two and took the checkered flag. The exacta of Rudolph and Cicconi was the same finish as the previous night.

In the Champ Karts, Chris Daley, 2008 winner, picked his way through a talent-laden field, avoided the pitfalls of lapped traffic and survived a two-lap shootout to win the 25-lap feature.

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