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Polly Reid

Trenton holds a significant place in the book of American history. Erick Rudolph of Ransomville, NY made his own place in the book of racing history taking down a revolutionary win in the first Battle of Trenton by leading green to checkers for a hard fought victory in the 40 lap TQ A Main at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, NJ.

Rudolph turned his weekend around after not qualifying for the Friday night’s main events by first winning the Match Races to sit on the pole for the Saturday night A main, avoided several cautions and maneuvered lap traffic to stamp his name in the record books as the first TQ winner in the Battle of Trenton.

Mike Lichty crossed for second with Zane Zeiner third, Matt Janisch and Jimmy Blewett rounded out the top five.

“We had a rough night last night,” confessed Erick about Friday. “We weren’t even able to make the race and tonight you know, we were sitting real pretty. I figured we had the best chance to win starting on the pole – I was real confident on how the car was, but there were just a lot of restarts, I was getting nervous but, we were able to come out on top.”

Rudolph made it look easy but when there was a stretch of green flag run, it didn’t take long for the leaders to encounter the back of the field. “The lap traffic, you never really know what the lap cars are going to do, but I was able to work on them, got by a few, then the yellow came out.”

Rudolph admitted to being confident about the Mark Laffler prepared TQ. But as with any track, indoor or out, it changes and keeping up with that was key. “The car was sliding around a little bit but at the same time I could see the track was a little bare as far as rubber was concerned, I think everyone was struggling with it too.”

Not his first trip to victory lane, Rudolph was the winner at Atlantic City two years ago. “This is our second win but we’re the first ever winners in Trenton, NJ- going in the books.” Rudolph credits the efforts of Laffler and the hard work of the team for getting him into victory lane.

Mike Lichty of Innerkip, Ontario, took the green seventh, got caught up in the fast action and restarted from the back just before the half. Finishing second at Atlantic City two weeks ago, Lichty was set on besting his spot by one on the podium. Lichty survived the battle but lost the war.

“We had a decent starting position but once again, we did it coming from the back,” said Lichty referring to the caution just prior to the half. “It just gets so congested with everyone fighting for the same piece of race track. It was no fault of anybody’s but mine, I just hit the tires on the restart trying to get a good run on the leader – hey we’ll take it. We were definitely junk yesterday- we found a lot wrong with the car after AC, we had some torsion bars that were bent. I’ve got to thank everyone that works on this car. A big thanks to BJ from Dart Performance Motors. Hoosier, they’re really starting to work with us to make a real nice tire for indoor racing- big thank you to Hoosier Tire East Rob Summers and Irish Saunders in Indiana on that.” Next for Lichty? The ISMA season opener in Oswego- when the snow melts.

His second time racing a TQ, the weekend was a long one for the Zane Zeiner crew who never stopped working on the car to get it where they wanted it to be. Zeiner from Bath, PA, qualified through the B Main, starting the A Main 23rd. There is incredible intensity working through the field when laps are only 7 seconds long- in this case Zeiner admits, he had some help, finally, a little luck fell his way.
“We were the first car out for time trials, usually that’s not a good thing,” said Zeiner. “That started us 5th in the heat race- sort of got into Billy Pauch, my fault, that put us in the back, and then we had to go through the B Main. But my father always says that things happen for a reason and I definitely found something in the B Main when I ran it there and I think it just clicked. We took it into the feature and it worked for us.”

“It was amazing,” said Zeiner about coming from his 23rd starting spot. “Our clutch cable was slipping, luckily someone gave me a nice shot from behind and popped it so I could continue racing. I was cautious about not stalling the car at the end. When luck is on your side, it’s awesome.”

“This is my second time in one of these cars, never drove one indoors or outdoors- you’ve got the best of the best here,” continued Zeiner. “This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but it has taught me so much.”

Anthony Sesely rebounded to cross for sixth with Jonathan Reid pulling off a seventh place finish. Rob Vivona, Patrick Emerling and Lou Cicconi completed the top ten.

Winner at Atlantic City, Sesely’s finish in the A main was enough to earn the Matawan, NJ driver the Fatheadz Eyewear Indoor Racing Series championship title. The defending champion of the series, Sesely edged out Matt Janisch by one point to take the honors.
Ted Christopher appeared to have things turning his way after winning his qualifying heat. That was short lived in the main, his night over with front end damage just before the half.

NWMT champion Ryan Preece had a fast car winning a Twin on Friday night only to not complete the A main on Saturday. Rowan Pennink’s night ended in the B Main but not because he didn’t try hard. Hopefully the power will be restored soon to Rowan’s folk’s house. Mark and Janice Pennink, about 20 minutes from Trenton, lost power in the ice storm that hit the area last Wednesday. Mark had been out cleaning up after the ice storm with a chain saw to get out of his driveway. As of Saturday night they were still without power and a generator with probably only enough propane until Monday.

Patrick Emerling leaves Trenton with a top ten finish and will be heading to Florida for Speedweeks.

The Len Sammons Motorsports Productions pulled off a great night of racing at a brand new venue. The people I sat next to were pure fans of racing and when they saw the ad in the paper about The Battle of Trenton, they came to see what it was about. All they wanted to know at the end of the night was, ‘where’s the next one?’

Starting Friday Feb 14th modified racing starts at New Smyrna Speedway. Live updates will be posted on The Chrome Horn- Denise and Jim Dupont and I will do our best to keep you in the know on what’s happening at both NSS and the UNOH Battle at the Beach.

Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: February 9, 2014

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