ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – Erick Rudolph of Ransomville, N.Y., staved off a furious last lap challenge off the final turn by Zane Zeiner of Bath, Pa., and won the NAPA Know How Racing Weekend Three Quarter (TQ) Midget Gambler’s Classic 40-lap feature by a razor thin margin inside historic Boardwalk Hall on Saturday night.

“I wasn’t sure about it, to be honest,” said Rudolph of the outcome. “I knew it was very close.

The actual margin of victory, .012 seconds, was the closest margin for a race winner in the history of the Indoor Auto Racing Series.

“He (Rudolph) made one little mistake there at the end and I was right there,” Zeiner said. “Someday soon, I am going to win one of these things.”

Matt Janisch was a close third, Jimmy Blewett fourth and Mike Lichty, who was making his first Indoor Auto Racing Series start of the season, completed the top spots.

Scott Kreutter, Jon Reid, Andrew Nye, Brandon Azzalina and Ryan Flores completed the top ten.

The tenth place result was enough for Flores to win his first Indoor Auto Racing Series points championship.

“The point title is what we worked hard for all year,” Flores said. “I would like to have done better in this race but winning the title was the goal and we achieved it.”

Gary Hieber started up front and finished there to win the 25-lap Slingshot feature. Hieber outran Danny Buccafusca for the race win but in finishing second, Buccafusca won the Slingshot Indoor Auto Racing Series points championship. Seth Spayd, Cody Kline and Kyle Herve completed the top five. Kurt Bettler entered the weekend as a contender for the Slingshot title but spun out late in the race and finished 19th.

Cale Ross backed up his Indoor Auto Racing Series Champ Kart race win at Trenton in December with a win in Saturday’s Champ Kart feature. Ross held off Eric Zeh and Todd Crenchaw to secure the race win and by crossing the line first, also won the Indoor Auto Racing Series Champ Kart points championship. Ryan Swartz and Ryan Kendall ere the remainder of the top five. Perennial favorite Chris Daley was involved in two separate crashes during the race and finished twenty-first.

In preliminary TQ Midget racing action Saturday night, Flores, Blewett, Andy Jankowiak, Lichty, Reid and Azzalina each won heat races. B-Main TQ Qualifiers were won by Andrew Krause, Andrew Nye and Timmy Catalano. The five lap TQ Midget Dash which set starting positions for the first nine was won by Rudolph.

In Saturday afternoon preliminary action, Scott Kreutter won the Last Chance Qualifier for TQ Midgets, Dylan Hoch and Joe Toth the pair of Slingshot qualifiers, and Todd Crenchaw and Joey Bruning the pair of B Mains for Champ Karts.

Len Sammons Motorsports Productions and the Indoor Auto Racing Series announced dates for the 2018 Gambler’s Classic. The 16th running of the race is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, January 26-27, 2018.

Gambler’s Classic TQ Midget Feature (40 Laps): 1. Erick Rudolph, 2. Zane Zeiner, 3. Matt Janisch, 4. Jimmy Blewett, 5. Mike Lichty, 6. Scott Kreutter, 7. Jon Reid, 8. Andrew Nye, 9. Brandon Azzalina, 10. Ryan Flores, 11. Ryan Preece, 12. Rob Neely, 13. Mike Maresca, 14. Justin Bonsignore, 15. Mike Iles, 16. Tim Buckwalter, 17. Mike Tidaback, 18. Andy Jankowiak, 19. Anthony Sesely, 20. Ted Christopher, 21. Ronnie Mullen, 22. Brett Michalski, 23. Timmy Catalano, 24. Earl Paules, 25. Ryan Tidman, 26. Andrew Krause.

Slingshot Feature (25 Laps): 1. Gary Hieber, 2. Danny Buccafusca, 3. Seth Spayd, 4. Cody Kline, 5. Kyle Herve, 6. Billy Vaninwegen, 7. Joe Toth, 8. Dan Spellmon, 9. Damon Paul, 10. Steve Svanda, 11. Mike Toth, 12. Nick Del Campo, 13. Brett Bieber, 14. Mike Lapicki, 15. Chris Gall., 16. Nick Shaw, 17. Matt Langbein, 18. Anthony Raisner, 19. Kurt Bettler, 20. Vern McLaughlin III, 21. Matt Massone, 22. Dylan Hoch, 23. Cole Hentschel, 24. Eddie Strada.

Champ Kart Feature (25 Laps): 1. Cale Ross, 2. Eric Zeh, 3. Todd Crenchaw, 4. Ryan Swartz, 5. Ryan Kendall, 6. Jonathan Laureigh, 7. Mike Perry, 8. TJ Reed, 9. Doughas Goetz Jr., 10. Tim Gregory, 11. Stephen Beattie, 12. Pat Yountz, 13. Jeremiah Wagner, 14. Jon Pepe, 15. Tyler Thompson, 16. Dalton Rivira, 17. Richie Spaide, 18. Cole Neibert, 19. Ron Midford, 20. JJ Pacovich, 21. Chris Daley, 22. Zach Myers, 23. Joey Bruning, 24. Jon Cash.

MEDIA NOTE: On behalf of all involved with Len Sammons and the Indoor Auto Racing Series we extend a huge thank you for your support of the events run in Trenton, Allentown and Atlantic City.



It was this close, .012.

That was the margin of victory for Erick Rudolph over Zane Zeiner in Saturday’s Gambler’s classic at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The fact that Rudolph led from start to finish doesn’t tell the story of the final corner of the 40-lap feature. Zeiner dove low off the exit of the fourth turn after tapping Rudolph’s bumper. It wasn’t enough as Rudolph was able to just stay in front to capture his third career win in the event. He also took the checkers in 2012 and 2015.

“I had a good idea who was behind me,” commented Rudolph after the $5,000 win. “I knew there was some different ones in second and third place there, but the car went away a little at the end there. I felt some heavy pressure. I was just doing my best to get the job done.”

And get the job done he did. Rudolph needed to a run like this after a poor showing in Allentown which came after a dominant performance in Trenton back in early December.

“Means a lot, means a lot, especially after the last outing here where we weren’t able to get any wins,” said Rudolph. “We were in really good contention, had the best car. Tonight maybe not the best car, but never the less we were able to park it here in Victory Lane.”

The two drivers that were behind him for much of the race were Zeiner and at other points Tim Buckwalter. On the final lap it was Zeiner digging deep for the win as he looked for his first Atlantic City checkered flag. Rudolph did what he could to prepare himself for the inevitable challenge on the final lap.

“I felt him there for better half of the race,” stated Rudolph about Zeiner. “At the end of the race I tried adjusting my line, adjusting things in the car. It helped a little bit, but still I don’t think I had the fastest car at the end.

“You know the last couple laps they are going to give it their all, no one is here for second. I was just doing my best to park it here in Victory Lane.”

Luckily the Ransomville, N.Y., driver had just enough.

Rudolph set up his run to the checkers early in the night when he captured the five lap dash. He made some impressive moves to get to the front after starting mid-pack. From that point forward it was just a matter of keeping his car out in front.

“I went into to the dash, I didn’t have a plan to get in the lead or whatever, but I knew if I had an opportunity to get the lead for the start of the race that it was going to be in my best interest,” commented Rudolph.

The only scare for Rudolph came when he nearly got into the slower car of Earl Paules. Paules had something break on his No. 8 and Rudolph took evasive action entering turn three to avoid hard contact with him.

“With a little bit bigger of a track than in Allentown we didn’t have a constant lapped traffic problem, but there were a few lapped cars,” cited Rudolph. “You are coming up on them so fast that you don’t even know what to do. I got to him (Paules). I didn’t know where to go all of a sudden. Like I said, I closed in on him on the straightaway and then in the corner all of a sudden he’s there.”

Rudolph win came in his potent Lafler Chassis No. 22. It continued the run of dominance by the chassis manufacturer in indoor action. Lafler built cars swept the 2016-17 indoor racing season.

“It’s really turned into a Mark Lafler Chassis phenomenon here where continuously he’s got the cars to beat,” said Rudolph. “I’m really happy for myself, but I’m more happy for Mark (Lafler) because he’s the one that puts in all the effort. The guys put in all the effort then I go out for 40-laps and do my effort. That is totally minimal to the hours they spend in the shop trying to get us wins like this.”

Zeiner Comes up Just Short

Zeiner did it all.  There wasn’t anything more he could have done in the final lap to get by Rudolph. He got the run at the right time. Unfortunately he came up centimeters short at the finish. He and his team had nothing to hang their heads about.

“Without a doubt everything went our way,” commented Zeiner. “Yeah we came up a little short but I’m proud of all these guys and the car they gave me. We drove a smart race.  I screwed up the one time and hit the tires. I told myself to just hit my marks and go after him again and that’s what we did. We are real pleased, a little upset, but I know we got a great car that we can come back next year hard.”

Indoor racing is almost always a contact sport. Zeiner used some contact on the final lap to try and make the pass. It was nothing dirty or enough to wreck Rudolph. It was a small tap in the bumper as he got loose to open the door for Zeiner to try and sneak underneath. It was good hard racing between two veteran indoor racers.

“That’s what I told him afterward,” Zeiner said. “We raced hard. I didn’t move him. I just freed you up there. He was doing what he had to do going in straight. Even if I went in there hard to move him he had it blocked up. I just caught him at right angle. He got on gas real hard and got his car sideways. We had the drive off, but still a little shy. That was awesome.”

Gambler Globs
Rudolph noted the success of car owner Mark Lafler in the indoor series. Six of the top nine cars locked in the show were Lafler’s while of the six qualifiers run, five were won by Lafler cars. By my count, 16 Lafler cars were in the starting grid for the 40-lap feature event…