PORT COLBORNE, ONT. – After a stunning late-race charge, Erick Rudolph, of Ransomville, N.Y., took victory in the DIRTcar 358-Modified Series 100-lapper Tuesday, July 1, at Humberstone Speedway.
The defending series champion, Rudolph wrestled the lead from small block star Mat Williamson, of St. Catherines, Ontario, with just four laps remaining in the feature race.
“I just started reeling him in,” Rudolph said during the Victory Lane ceremonies that concluded the Speedway’s Canada Day special. “We raced each other hard for a little bit, had a lot of fun doing that, then with four laps to go I was able to get by him and get the win.”
Williamson and Rudolph certainly put on a show for fans at Humberstone Speedway, battling back and forth right up until the checkered flag.
The battle began early in the race, with Williamson starting eighth on the grid and Rudolph sixth. By lap 20, Williamson was grappling with initial race leader Mike Bowman for second place and Rudolph was close behind in third. Todd Gordon was in the lead after a quick move off a restart in lap 13 took him past polesitter Bowman.
In lap 21, Williamson was closing in on Gordon, closely hugging the inside of the track while Gordon looped around on the outside groove.
Shane Pierce spun in lap 22 to bring the race’s third caution. The subsequent restart presented an opportunity for Williamson, and he took full advantage, powering ahead at the green flag for the lead. Williamson kept his position through the next 40 caution-riddled laps, and was able to leverage intermittent green lap runs to pull ahead of the rest of the field. Behind him, Rudolph and Gordon battled hard for the runner-up spot with Rudolph winning out in lap 50.
After a lap-59 restart, a series of green-flag laps put the leaders among lapped traffic by lap 76. At first Williamson struggled with the extra cars on the track, letting Rudolph come within a few car lengths of his rear bumper. However, a three-time maneuver charging between Robbie Krull’s No. 123 and Lance Willix’s No. 16 helped Williamson work the lapped cars to his advantage.
With two cars between his No. 25 ride and the leader, Rudolph’s advance was challenged, but Rudolph did not let it slow him down. He darted low on the inside of turn 3 in lap 91 in an attempt to pass one of the lapped cars, but he hit a barrier to bring caution back to the race track.
On the restart, Rudolph was fast on the top side and kept pace with Williamson. They raced side-by-side, with Rudolph trying the outside, then deftly crossing behind to the inside, to try to find a way around Williamson. Finally, in lap 96, Rudolph was able to find enough speed to overtake Williamson for the lead and the win.
“When the race first started I realized we had missed the setup a little bit, but I knew as the race went on that it would get better, and I was just waiting and waiting,” Rudolph said. “I almost got to him, but I got caught up with a couple of lapped cars. Then the yellow came out. From there it was just working on him.”
“It was tricky to get by him, but we made it work,” Rudolph continued.
Williamson stayed strong for a second-place finish.
“We were too good too early,” Williamson said. “We sealed our tire over there, and that was our fate. We were just lucky to hang in there for second (place). If the race had been a little bit longer, we would have ended up third or fourth. It was a good run for Erick, and we just have to work on it for next time.”
Pete Bicknell finished third after starting fourth. Drastic equipment changes after the night’s qualifying rounds helped Bicknell stay strong throughout the feature.
“We changed just about everything about it. We had been having trouble with it being a little bit loose, so I said ‘let’s just change everything we can think of,’ and we did,” Bicknell said of the No. 42. “It actually worked good — that’s probably the best we’ve had the car for a while. The guys did a good job changing everything over.”
Chad Brachmann finished fourth after staring third and polesitter Mike Bowman placed fifth. Rounding out the top ten are Ryan Susice in sixth, Gordon in seventh, Mario Clair in eighth, Lance Willix in ninth and Tyler McPherson in tenth.
The DIRTcar 358-Modified Series continues Wednesday, July 3, with a 75J lap feature at Ransomville Speedway in Ransomville, N.Y. For more information about the DIRTcar 358-Modified Series, visit www.dirtcar.com.
1. 25 Erick Rudolph – Ransomville, N.Y.
2. 6m Mat Williamson – St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
3. 42 Pete Bicknell – St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
4. 3 Chad Brachmann – Sanborn, N.Y.
5. 71 Mike Bowman – St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
6. 38 Ryan Susice – Ransomville, N.Y.
7. 28 Todd Gordon – Thorold, Ontario
8. 22c Mario Clair – Drummondville, Quebec, Canada
9. 21a Pete Britten – Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
10. 84 Gary Tomkins – Clifton Springs, N.Y.
11. 40 Joel Doiron – Alexandria, Ontario, Canada
12. 21 Yan Bussiere – Drummondville, Quebec, Canada
13. 42p Pat Ward – Genoa, N.Y.
14. 99L Larry Wight – Altmar, N.Y.
15. 91 Billy Decker – Sidney, N.Y.
16. 10v Billy VanInwegen – Sparrowbush, N.Y.
17. 3 Justin Haers – Phelps, N.Y.
18. 10R Gabriel Richer – Les Coteaux, Quebec, Canada
19. 54 Steve Bernard – Granby, Quebec, Canada
20. 115 Stephane LaFrance – Casselman, Ontario, Canada
21. 22c Mario Clair – Drummondville, Quebec, Canada
22. 66x Carey Terrance – Hogansburg, N.Y.
23. 01 Chris Raabe – Napanee, Ontario, Canada
24. 151kb Brian McDonald – Cornwall, Ontario, Canada
25. 25 Erick Rudolph – Ransomville, N.Y.
26. 35 Mike Perrotte – Plattsburgh, N.Y.
27. 27J Danny Johnson – Rochester, N.Y.
28. 43 Keith Flach – Ravena, N.Y.
29. 23 Laurent Ladouceur – Alexandria, Ontario, Canada
30. 98S Rich Scagliotta – Hillsborough, N.J.
B-Main 1: Terrance, Bussiere, Ladouceur, Morin, Chicoine, Ward, Wilson, D. Stacey
B-Main 2: Bernard, Wight, VanInwegen, Richer, Kerr, Perrotte, Rice, W. Stacey, Scagliotta
Qualifying Heats (8 laps, top 5 transfer, top 3 redraw)
Heat 1: Raabe, Dingwall, Boisvert, McDonald, Hearn, Bussiere, Ward, Ladouceur, Chicoine, Herbison
Heat 2: Sheppard, Williamson, Dunn, Haers, Tomkins, D. Stacey, Morin, Wilson, Rice
Heat 3: Decker, Britten, Rudolph, Clair, Flach, VanInwegen, W. Stacey, Wight, Bernard
Heat 4: Johnson, Billings, Doiron, LaFrance, Phelps, Scagliotta, Richer, Kerr, Perrotte
Time Trials: 1. Decker 13.123; 2. Sheppard 13.157; 3. Johnson 13.194; 4. Britten 13.215; 5. Doiron 13.231; 6. Billings 13.232; 7. LaFrance 13.266; 8. Raabe 13.296; 9. Boisvert 13.297; 10. Bernard 13.307; 11. Flach 13.360; 12. Dunn 13.361; 13. Wight 13.362; 14. Williamson 13.364; 15. Herbison 13.380; 16. Phelps 13.382; 17. Haers 13.388; 18. Clair 13.456; 19. Ward 13.479; 20. Terrance 13.525; 21. Dingwall 13.536; 22. Rudolph 13.584; 23. VanInwegen 13.587; 24. Tomkins 13.607; 25. Scagliotta 13.625; 26. Ladouceur 13.666; 27. Richer 13.755; 28. Perrotte 13.783; 29 . McDonald 13.787; 30. Chicoine 13.869; 31. Bussiere 13.884; 32. Morin 13.988; 33. Kerr 13.988; 34. D. Stacey 14.124; 35. Wilson 14.627; 36. Rice 14.693. No Time: Hearn