Second Generation Rudolph Wins at Wyoming County by Jim Blacroch
RoC Victory Goes to Another New Face
On Sunday afternoon at the Wyoming County International Speedway (NY) another new face emerged in victory lane. Erick Rudolph of Ransomville, N.Y., became the first teenage driver to win a DART Race of Champions Tour race and continue his rise as Western New York’s hottest young driver.
Erick Rudolph in victory lane at Wyoming County. (Ken+Bev Dippel Photos)
Rudolph led all 75 laps en-route to what he termed as “the biggest win of his career.”
In the end however, it was a big victory for several folks involved with the development of the young talent. Included in that group is his Father, Charlie, who has quite a resume himself.
In terms of Western New York motorsports, the argument could be made that Charlie Rudolph was the best ever, although his career numbers wouldn’t necessarily represent the area that strongly because he traveled throughout his career. Rudolph’s career were highlighted with track championships at Lancaster and Ransomville, while he scored the Mr. DIRT Modified title and even took a trip to ‘the show’ and made several starts in a NASCAR Winston Cup car, that was built and maintained out of the Rudolph shop in Ransomville. The most common trait between Father and Son seems to be their intense approach to racing. Rudolph, who walked away from the sport a few years ago, still looks like he could get back in the car and get the job done.
Following the event Charlie wore a big smile as Erick waited for the win to set in.
“I’m very proud of him,” stated Rudolph (Charlie). “He’s definitely got some talent and at the end of the race he was still running 14 second laps. That’s outstanding. It was a lot easier for me to drive then it is to watch, believe me, but we can’t ask many of Erick at his age, he’s doing a very good job.”
Not far behind Charlie and Erick is Grandfather Jim Rudolph, who works as a crew member for Erick and has engineered plenty of successes for his son and grandson, in addition to countless drivers throughout Western New York, including Chuck Hossfeld.
On Sunday afternoon all three Rudolphs played a vital role in the success of the day, but one real key was the fact that young Erick redrew the pole and was able to dictate his own approach to the race.
“Wyoming County has been very good to me,” explained young Erick, who is an honor student. “I won my first Sportsman feature here and now I’ve got my first Modified victory here. I really wanted this one today.”
Rudolph continued. “The DeLanges and all of the crew gave me a great car and with starting on the pole it put us in a good spot to go for the win. I didn’t know that not pitting would work out, but it did. Our tires held up well and the risk paid off.”
Rudolph, who is just 16 years old and a student at Wilson in Niagara County, went on. “I need to thank Dave and Laura DeLange for giving me a great car to drive and a great race team to work with. My Dad and Grandpa and all of our sponsors, I can’t forget them, without them, we wouldn’t be here. That’s for sure.”
Rudolph outran last Saturday’s DART RoC victor, Matt Hirschman, who changed his
New York motorsports landscape. Primarily in the asphalt modified division, but at one time Putney owned asphalt Late Models as well. Over time, Putney’s passion for the sport has evolved to a point where he has even looked toward purchasing a facility, but the proper situation has not been found. When Wyoming County International Speedway promoter Jim Majchrzak encountered troubles with the asphalt following the previous DART Race of Champions show on Father’s Day Weekend, Putney stepped in and helped Majchrzak financially to make the proper repairs to the 1/3-mile facility.
Rudolph (#45) leads the way at Wyoming County.
Beers (#99) and Danny Knoll (#17) race with each other at Spencer. (Ken+Bev Dippel Photo)
typical Wyoming County strategy by not pitting. Hirschman hung around the top-ten all afternoon after starting 11th and worked his way steadily toward the front throughout the race. Eventually, in a wild shuffle in the closing stages of the race, Hirschman made his way to second, where he would finish.
“Every race is different,” offered Hirschman. “Today we had to come up with something different again. You just have to take it as the race comes and today this is how it played out. We’ve been good, with a third, first and a second in the last three races.”
Daren Scherer recorded third when the checkered flag fell. It matched his Father’s Day weekend finish at the Wyoming County ‘bullring’. In the closing laps, Scherer and others were involved in some very intense side-by-side, nose-to-tail battles that saw things get shaken up before the checkers.
“It was just good hard racing there at the end,” stated Scherer. “Not everyone pitted like the last time and we took that different approach as well. The track hasn’t changed all that much, there is just a little bit more of bump now in turn three and four. We’ll take third as our strategy not to pit paid off for us.”
Bobby Holmes made the DeLange’s day that much better as he recorded a fourth place finish, while Pete Brittain brought the Ling Trucking, Zacharias Racing machine home fifth.
Billy Putney, Brittain and Brian Defebo won the qualifying races.
Tracking the Track:
For the majority of his life, Bruce Putney has been an influential car owner in the Western
Putney did it without much fanfare and on Sunday the asphalt never wavered on what was a cooler day, but with just as much sunshine as the previous event in June. Putney is one of the good guys in this sport and everyone involved in racing should be grateful for folks like Bruce.
On the track, Bruce’s son, Billy looked like a potential threat to Rudolph, but some troubles with the Bandit Racing entry left front after the pit stop relegated them to making lengthy repairs under an extended yellow flag situatioin to clean the racing surface.
Kluth Comes Home Sixth
Rick Kluth of Hilton, N.Y., had a consistent run aboard his Kluth Motorsports 2 KWIK Chassis machine. He was in the middle of the jockey for position late in the race and survived to finish 6th.
“You can definitely race here,” smiled Kluth after the race. “We were going pretty good and then late in the race everyone got to racing very hard. It was side-by-side, nose-to-tail and there wasn’t much room for error. All of the guys did a good job though and we got sixth. We’ll take it and head up to Oswego next week.”
21 DART Race of Champions Tour machines made the tow to Wyoming County on Sunday
Lee Sherwood of Binghamton, N.Y., came home 8th. Sherwood is always competitive and
should be among the front-runners this Saturday at Oswego where he has recorded one previous DART RoC Tour victory.
Brian Defebo ran strong at Wyoming on Sunday. After starting second he raced with the leaders for most of the event and ended up 10th when the checkered flag flew. Defebo, who is normally a Mahoning Valley Speedway regular, makes sporadic appearances with the DART RoC.
Todd Smith of Spencerport, N.Y., came to Wyoming looking to score his second victory of the weekend. Smith scored his first career feature victory this past Friday night at Spencer Speedway in Williamson, N.Y., in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action. On Sunday Smith came home 9th.
The DART Race of Champions heads back to the 5/8-mile Oswego Speedway just off of Lake Ontario up the hill from route 104 for Central Region race # 4. For more information you can head to www.oswegospeedway.com times, directions and other information.
RACE REPORT RACE OF CHAMPIONS DART ASPHALT MODIFIED TOUR
COMBINATION RACE #3 WYOMING COUNTY INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
1.) Erick Rudolph
2.) Matt Hirschman
3.) Daren Scherer
4.) Bobby Holmes
5.) Pete Brittain
6.) Rick Kluth
7.) Billy Putney
8.) Lee Sherwood
9.) Todd Smith
10.) Brian DeFebo
11.) Rusty Smith
12.) Danny Knoll, Jr.
13.) Phil Slater
14.) Eric Beers
15.) Chris Zacharias
16.) Mark Tychoniewicz
17.) Dan Chimera
18.) John Markovic
19.) Matt Clemens
20.) Bill Mislin
21.) Tony Hanbury.
LAP LEADERS; Rudolph ( 1 – 75 )
DART MACHINERY SET OF HEADS $1,200 VALUE; Clemens
GATER RACING NEWS DRIVER BONUS DRAW $500; Knoll
HOOSIER RACING TIRE HARD CHARGER AWARD; Kluth ( 18th
to 6th )
HOOSIER RACING TIRE HARD LUCK AWARD; Markovic ( 8th
to 18th ), Tychoniewicz ( 6th to 16th )
NEXT RoC DART ASPHALT MODIFIED TOUR EVENT; Saturday
July 21st – Oswego Speedway – Central Region Race # 4
Bruce Putney (Standing) and Billy Putney (Sitting).