US OPEN PART I AT DUNN TIRE RACEWAY PARK by Jim Blacroch
Rudolph runs to Perfect SST Season
Erick Rudolph

With the Stafford Motor Speedway raining out of the Carquest Fall Final, Dunn Tire Raceway Park (Lancaster) became the focal point for the 2008 DART Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour to play out, however, Mother Nature intervened and left Sunday without any racing. However, the event provided its share of excitement on Friday and Saturday night.

In three of the many events during the first two run one young man stood alone in victory lane. Erick Rudolph of Ransomville, N.Y., scored two feature victories on Friday night which propelled him to the track championship in the SST and Modified divisions, which were his first Dunn Tire/Lancaster championships. Friday night’s event at the speedway was the held over Ron Lux Memorial from a few weeks ago. Saturday night was qualifying for the DART Asphalt Race of Champions Modified Tour and the SST 75-lap event which would provide plenty of action.
Unfortunately, Sunday’s US Open RoC 100 for the Modifieds was postponed to this Sunday due to inclement weather.

On Saturday night, Rudolph picked up right where he left off on Friday night as he grabbed the lead from Bobby Holmes on lap 11 and dominated the remainder of the event after starting 8th. At times it looked as though he was toying with the field.

“We had a good car tonight and it’s been that way all year,” smiled Rudolph from victory lane.
“The guys came here with the same setup that they always do and it showed. I mean it was just very good.”

Rudolph, who is just 16-years old, appears to be a little timid outside of the racecar, but anything but once he climbs into his machine and does what he does best. In fact, it was perfection for him at Dunn Tire Raceway Park in the SST Modified division as he claimed all 8 feature victories held at the track, with most of those wins coming in dominating fashion.

“That’s a pretty big accomplishment, no matter how you look at it,” explained Rudolph as he focused on his Friday night accomplishments. “Friday night was a pretty good night for. Two wins and two track championships, those results are very good. It will definitely give us a boost. Winning this race just made the weekend that much more special.”

Rudolph is a driven individual with plenty of God-given talent and that was very clear Saturday night in his dominant romp.
“That was the longest 200-lapper I’ve ever been,” joked Rudolph following the 75-green-flag lap SST race. “It took forever to get a long run in. It seemed like every couple of laps there was another caution. It got frustrating, especially with the lead because you want to keep racing and get to the end. You really need a long green flag stretch to see how good your car is and if you can pull away or they will be all over you. Once we did get a long run under green it seemed like they couldn’t really keep up with us. I could get into a rhythm the longer the green flag run and pull away. It was really a relief to finally see that checkered flag tonight.

Rudolph continued. “I need to thank Original Pizza Logs, PrimeTyme Motorsports, Brigham Concrete and all of our sponsors, Dave and Laura DeLange for the opportunity to drive their racecars and all my family. My Dad Charlie, my Grandfather Jim, it really has been a great year for Rudolph Motorsports.

Rudolph then reflected on his perfect SST season at Dunn Tire Raceway Park.

“What we’ve been able to do in the SST here this year is a huge accomplishment and we are really proud of ourselves as a team,” he continued. “A lot of work into and I’m really proud of everyone involved. I’m looking forward to the 100 lap Modified race to see if we can keep it going.”

Jeff Price ran a steady race to finish second. He closed on Rudolph following a couple of restarts, but once Rudolph found his pace, Price struggled to stay close to the back bumper of Rudolph’s Troyer mount.

“We had a good night, but it’s tough to keep up with Erick, he’s on his game right now,” related Price from victory lane.

Modified racing veteran Pete Brittain came home third without an air cleaner.

“We got into the back of somebody early on and it bent us up a little and then the air cleaner blew off,” quipped Brittain after the event. “The car wasn’t that bad, but Erick was pretty solid. We’ll take third and keep working on this program. In the 100 lapper tomorrow will be racing for the Race of Champions title and I’m excited about that.”

Bobby Holmes and Tom McGrath rounded out the top-five. 39 SST Modifieds came to Dunn Tire for the event. Vince Cappelli, Craig Dolphin, Pete Brittain and Jonathan Price won the qualifying races. The B-Main was cancelled after a few cars withdrew following qualifying.

DUNN TIRE/LANCASTER NOTES

Two drivers truly stood out in the 75-lap SST feature. Todd Hoddick finished second on Friday night and had high hopes for Saturday night’s event, but struggled to qualify. In the race, however, Hoddick worked his way steadily to the front until contact with Kevin Timmerman and a hole in the radiator eliminated him from competition. Hoddick, who recently won the Late Model portion of the Race of Champions at Oswego Speedway, is fairly new to driving the Modified, but has been around Modifieds all his life as his family has owned Modifieds driven by his uncle Steve.

Andy Jankowiak another second-generation racer was the other back-to-the-front-to-the-back-to-the-front driver of the night. Jankowiak has had an impressive first year behind the wheel of his SST and Saturday night was no different. He was steadily working his way forward until contact with another car sent him to the back. He eventually recovered to finish 7th.

“We had a good car,” stated Jankowiak. “I don’t know about catching Erick (Rudolph) but we gave it all it had.”

Jankowiak’s comment was an understatement. He put on a real show, literally driving the wheels off the car as he passed cars coming through the field.

The contact rule in the SST race seemed to be implemented on a similar basis, but it certainly moved competitive car(s) like Hoddick’s and Jankowiak’s from having a better finish. Hoddick’s outcome may not have changed due to his radiator issue, but Jankowiak was certainly on a top-three run.

On Friday night it was reported that Sege Fidanza took a scary hit when he wheel hopped over Billy Putney’s right rear after the caution flag was displayed. Fidanza slammed the concrete in turn four and destroyed his Troyer Modified. Fidanza was sore after the incident but returned to the track on Saturday night to take in the races. His season was done following the Friday night incident.
Tom McGrath, Darren Scherrer and Matt Hirschman scored wins in the DART Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour qualifying races. The 100-lap RoC Modified championship event was rescheduled for this Sunday, October 5th.

SST Sportsman 75-lap US Open Feature Finish:

1.) Erick Rudolph
2.) Jeff Price
3.) Pete Brittain
4.) Bobby Holmes
5.) Tom McGrath
6.) Justin Shepker
7.) Andy Jankowiak
8.) Billy Putney
9.) Russ Gian
10.) Frank Batista Jr.
11.) Nick Cappelli
12.) Tony Hanbury
13.) Jerry Harding Jr.
14.) Don King
15.) Joe Evans
16.) Neal Dietz
17.) Scott Reese
18.) Jack Grainy
19.) Chris Finocharrio
20.) Eddie Murray
21.) Patti Pruitt
22.) Kevin Timmerman
23.) David Tedesco
24.) Don Wylie
25.) Todd Hoddick
26.) Jerry Gradl Jr.
27.) Craig Dolphin
28.) Jim Pierce
29.) Tom Fectau
30.) Dick Kluth
31.) Mike Bliss
32.) Tim Hoegl
33.) Jon Price

Lap Leaders: 1-10 Holmes, 11-75 Rudolph