RUDOLPH STRONG AT RACE OF CHAMPIONS,
US OPEN WEEKEND IS NEXT
Last Friday the DeLange Racing team and driver Erick Rudolph of
Ransomville traveled east to Oswego Speedway for the 58th Annual
Race of Champions Weekend. This traditional fall classic is one of
the landmark events for weekly short track racers in the Northeast.
The first hurdle facing the DeLange team was the Motorsports Expo
SST Modified 100 on Friday. Qualifying for the race was the first
order of business to trim down the 56 SST cars that showed up down
to the 33-car feature starting field. Erick accomplished that by
winning the fifth qualifying heat. The crew then made adjustments to
the racecar in preparation for the main event.
Rudolph took the green flag in the feature from the tenth position
and quickly began moving forward. He climbed to second behind race
leader Pete Brittain on the 21st lap and then settled into place,
planning his victory strategy. Unfortunately he never got the
opportunity to implement his plan. On lap 67 under caution the #45
Original Pizza Logs/PrimeTyme Motorsports/Brigham Concrete SST
slowed and Rudolph coasted into the pits, done for the night.
"It was a disappointing way to end the race for us," explained
Erick post-race. "I ran Brittain really hard at the beginning to see
if I could keep up with him. But after awhile I just lagged back
because I didn't think I had enough at the time. I figured I would
wait maybe 20 laps and go back at him and see what happens. But we
ended up with problems and had to drop out. We think the fuel pump
failed but we'll check it out more thoroughly when we get back home.
It's a good thing we have another race tomorrow. If it wasn't for
that, I'd be thinking about this all weekend."
Saturday brought the Modifieds to the Speedway. A competitive field
of 41 cars was in the pit area. In time trials Rudolph posted the
third fastest lap, moving him directly into the 200 and avoiding the
risk of qualifying heat races. He drew the ninth starting position
for the feature and then waited anxiously for the main event.
The 58th Annual Sunoco Race of Champions 200 took the green and
Erick settled into the top-ten. He rode patiently over the first
segment of the race, climbing to fifth by the halfway mark. Shortly
thereafter he made his pit stop and after some quick work by the
crew rejoined the field. He climbed as high as second and was third
with 50 laps remaining. A controversial pass of leader Mike Leaty by
second place Tony Hirschman on a lap 188 restart brought contact
between the two and ended the race for Leaty. Race of Champions
officials put Hirschman back in the lead ahead of Rudolph. The
multi-time Modified champion sailed under the checkered flag first
with our teenage sensation a formidable runner-up in only his second
Race of Champions start.
"It was a good effort for us tonight," Rudolph noted. "I thought
maybe we could even be a little faster but I could tell the car was
too tight. I wasn't going all out. Because of that I couldn't tell
just how tight we were. We loosened it up a little bit when we
pitted, just not enough. That hurt us but a second place finish is
still a good run. A lot happened up ahead of usat the end and I was
hoping it might end up in our favor, but it didn't. Maybe it will
the next time."
The DeLange Racing team has a busy weekend coming up as Dunn Tire
Raceway Park will be racing on three consecutive days to decide the
track championships in all divisions. Rudolph is leading the SST
points and is tied for the lead in Modified points. On Friday night
Erick will drive both the Original Pizza Logs/PrimeTyme
Motorsports/Brigham Concrete SST and Modified in features held over
from a previous rainout. On Saturday the Modifieds will qualify and
the SST's will run heat races and a 75-lap feature. On Sunday the
highlight of the weekend is the 100-lap finale for the 2008 Race of
Champions Modified Tour.
Bruce Boucher / DeLange
September 23, 2008