On a night where Short Track Super Series officials had to dodge the rain that was all over central Pennsylvania, Rick Laubach dodged every attempt that his competitors made to take the lead from him over the course of 50 laps in the Anthracite Assault at Big Diamond Speedway.
Laubach started second, on the outside of polesitter Nick Nye, but he wasted no time taking the lead. Laubach got a great jump, something he would do all night, and powered into the lead before the field even reached the first turn.
Restarts and lapped traffic would be the only times that anybody might have a chance at passing Laubach. On the first restart he chose the outside lane, which put Jeff Strunk to his inside. Laubach still powered away to hold the lead.
“Restarts were everything tonight,” Laubach told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “The top was pretty good there in the beginning, but those guys are powerful. You don’t want to give them the line.”
This year’s Atlantic City Gambler’s Classic winner, Erick Rudolph, started fifth but made his way up into second after the second restart.
Rudolph appeared to maybe have a car that could challenge Laubach in traffic, but he got a bit too aggressive and that proved costly. Rudolph attempted to split the gap between two lapped cars and went three-wide into turn one on lap 28. He was pushed high by in the inside car and into the left side of Mike Sabia which resulted in Rudolph spinning out from second-place.
Things would get worse for Rudolph as he was collected in each of the next two crashes at the back of the field.
Rudolph’s spin moved Stewart Friesen into second-place and gave Laubach a new challenger. Now using the inside lane on restarts, Laubach still proved to be too strong.
With about 12 laps to go, Laubach started to catch the rear of the field again and Friesen started to catch Laubach as a result. However, just as the gap was starting to close a car came to a stop in turn one to bring out the caution again, which definitely wasn’t what Friesen wanted to see.
“I think we needed a longer run (at the end),” said Friesen. “That lost caution there kept us from catching lapped traffic. On the long run I felt like he’d back up to us a little bit, but maybe he was just saving something too.”
Laubach had just one more restart to contend with but he nailed it and left Friesen in his dust. He had ten laps of smooth sailing with no lapped traffic to deal with. He beat Friesen to the checkered flag by almost a straightaway.
Friesen came home second and Strunk finished third. Anthony Perrego and Jamie Mills completed the top five.
Laubach had his four-year-old son, Matthew in victory lane, which he said made the win even more special.
“This is a good one,” Laubach said. “It feels good having this guy here.”
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-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
Anthracite Assault 50 Results
Big Diamond Speedway, Pottsville, Pennsylvania
|6||Billy Pauch Jr.|
|9||H.J. Bunting III|
|11||Billy Van Pelt|
|12||David Van Horn|
|17||Billy Pauch Sr.|
|26||Jerry Higbie Jr.|
|28||Jackie Brown Jr.|