When one goes to a casino city they hope to win big. Many unfortunately lose big, but there’s usually one person that gets to walk away a winner. For the second time, Erick Rudolph gets to leave Atlantic City a winner. He made a maneuver under fellow New Yorker Patrick Emerling shortly after halfway and drove off with the win in the Boardwalk Hall (NJ) main event, the Gambler’s Classic.
“Once the laps start clicking down you start thinking about making an aggressive move or maybe trying something different if what you’re doing isn’t working properly,” Rudolph told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “So you start changing your line a little bit. The bottom line is you can’t give up. You go out and turn every lap as hard as you can. We did everything right today.”
After finishing behind winner Andy Jankowiak on Friday night, Rudolph and his team knew that they needed to make some changes in order to have the winning car on Saturday.
“Last night we had a team meeting and we thought about it and came here this morning and made some adjustments,” explained Rudolph. “I still wasn’t real happy with the car with some different things that it was doing. We made some more changes and worked on it, even after the dash. We really tuned it in real nice for the feature.”
“The Firestarter” as he is known was not home free. Some late race cautions bunched the field and on the short runs the North Carolina resident and Team Penske crew member Ryan Flores would power right back up to the rear nerf bar of Rudolph.
For Flores, a former New Jersey resident in only his fourth A-Main TQ Midget start, it was a “patiently aggressive” performance as he referred to in his pre-race plan. After the strong runner-up finish last month in Trenton and top five Friday night in Atlantic City, Flores was still not entirely satisfied.
“I was happy about second in Trenton, but I’m pissed about it today so that’s a good thing,” remarked Flores. “I think we definitely stamped our name here. It’s just so tough. You’re racing with the best in the business. I’m happy to be here and to finish second is great. But we’re going to get that trophy one day and put my name on this deal.”
Jimmy Blewett fought back from a stomach bug on Friday and a gash on the outside of his left hand he suffered in the Dash race earlier in the evening to finish third when all was said and done. Jankowiak attempted to make the high line work to no avail and settled for fourth.
Early leader and pole winner Emerling finished fifth, and questioned what they could have done to have the winning car for the 40-lap distance.
“Maybe we did the wrong move a little bit on setup,” recapped Emerling. “It just loosened up too much for me. It just kind of slowed us up and we didn’t have much for Erick there.”
The Slingshot feature became very heated in the end as fastest drivers Gary Hieber and Demetrios Drellos made contact coming to the checkered flag. The altercation resulted in Hieber’s machine flipping over and the disqualification of Drellos. As a result, Jay Hartman captured the victory.
North Carolinian Donnie Nall won the caution filled Champ Kart feature.
There was a championship and monetary bonus up for grabs as well for the driver that accumulated the most points between the Trenton and Atlantic City indoor races. It came down to a tight battle with Ted Christopher and Mike Lichty tied up top entering Saturday’s race, but after their lack of contention for the win and Rudolph’s success the outcome changed.
Rudolph tied for the championship with Flores, but the victory gave Rudolph the crown. Jankowiak ended up only one point behind the two in third.
“The team has tried really hard (the last couple of years),” said Rudolph. “So to win this year and get the points championship all in one night, we are really happy with that.”
If you missed any of Saturday’s action from Boardwalk Hall you can replay all of Speed51’s Trackside Now coverage presented by John Blewett, Inc. Equipment and Contracting right here: http://speed51.com/trackside-now-gamblers-classic-saturday-at-atlantic-city/
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Correspondent – Twitter: @Aaron_Creed
-Photo Credit: John Lane Photography(powered by 51's Third Turn)
| 1||2||22||Erick Rudolph||40|
| 2||3||15||Ryan Flores||40|
| 3||8||76||Jimmy Blewett||40|
| 4||4||49||Andy Jankowiak||40|
| 5||1||07||Patrick Emerling||40|
| 6||9||13||Ted Christopher||40|
| 7||12||3||Ryan Susice||40|
| 8||24||323||Neal Williams||40|
| 9||10||7||Joey Payne, Jr.||40|
| 10||7||8b||Tim Buckwalter||40|
| 11||16||17||Rob Vivona||40|
| 12||17||7L||Jon Gambuti||40|
| 13||13||66||Andrew Nye||40|
| 14||25||48||Matt Janisch||40|
| 15||5||1||Mike Lichty||40|
| 16||19||28||Chad Jones||40|
| 17||11||16||Anthony Sesely||40|
| 18||22||8||Earl Paules||39|
| 19||15||73B||Brett Michalski||39|
| 20||20||46||Geoff Sutton||39|
| 21||14||51||Shawn Nye||38|
| 22||18||23||Zane Zeiner||37|
| 23||6||66||Kyle Reinhardt||31|
| 24||21||98||Matt Roselli||31|
| 25||23||44b||Pat Bealer||30|
| 26||26||52||Tim Nye||15|