DUNDEE, NY – Erick Rudolph, since exiting Super DIRT Week at Oswego, has become dirt track racing’s ‘Mr. October’. “Rudy” as his car owner Randy Chrysler called him in Outlaw Victory Lane Sunday night, put on a dominant performance enroute to the $7,000 victory in Outlaw Speedway’s first seventy-lapper in well over a decade.
Rudolph would lead every lap of the event, but it was far from a cakewalk for the Ransomville, NY shoe. He would have to hold off the advances of ‘The Hurricane’ Steve Paine and ‘AJ Slideways’ Alan Johnson in the closing laps to score his second Outlaw win of 2016.
Brian Malcolm and Rudolph drew the front row for the feature event, with Rudolph leading the opening lap and setting a torrid pace early on. Thirty-six cars signed in for competition on Sunday for the eighth running of the Dutch Hoag Memorial.
One driver that had high expectations was certainly Matt Sheppard, who was aboard the same No. 357 that he wheeled to victory lane in the lone Short Track Super Series stop at Outlaw Speedway in June. Unfortunately, Sheppard’s race was over by the very unlucky lap thirteen as he pulled the car into the infield in the first turn. Sheppard would not return to the field.
Paine had $19,500 on the line if he could win on Sunday and ‘The Hurricane’ made his presence felt, taking over the second spot on the restart from Malcolm. Rudolph set the pace with Paine in tow, but it was Outlaw Speedway second-high point man Alan Johnson who was the next driver to present himself as a threat to win.
Johnson fought through traffic after starting eleventh and advanced to fourth by lap twenty-one. Then overtook third from Cory Costa on lap twenty-nine. Five laps later, Costa would get back by Johnson for third before the caution flew on lap thirty-five for Donnie Lawson who got turned backwards under the flag stand.
Two more quick cautions on laps fifty-four and fifty-six allowed Paine, Johnson and Costa to close back in on Rudolph. But Rudolph was the rabbit on restarts, who would distance himself from the field to have a nice cushion upon hitting slower traffic ahead.
With eight laps to go, Johnson made his way around the outside of Paine in turn four to take over the runner up position. But with a nearly three second deficit to Rudolph, it didn’t look like Johnson had near enough time to catch Rudolph’s No. 25.
Johnson dug down deep and erased Rudolph’s lead as the pair came to the white flag, with Rudolph being held up just a bit in traffic. The driver from Middlesex, N.Y. looked high and low on the final lap, but Rudolph was up to the task to hold on for the $7,000 payday. It was his second win in three Outlaw Speedway starts in 2016, driving for Chrysler’s team.
“We’re having our fair share of luck here in October,” said Rudolph in Outlaw Victory Lane. “The cars are running well, I feel like I’m doing the right things out there and making the right decisions in the pit area.”
Rudolph, whose family has had a storied career in the sport, was asked about what it meant to win the Dutch Hoag Memorial? A race named after a Northeast legend, lost earlier in 2016.
“Dutch Hoag was a good friend of my grandfather’s and (he) was very respected in the sport,” noted Rudolph. “To win on his memorial night is something special.”
Alan Johnson needed another lap, maybe two to try and get the job done Sunday night.
“There’s no doubt I had a great car,” said Johnson. “Passing was kind of tough and I dug myself a hole in the heat race and started a little too far back.”
Paine was surely disappointed about missing out on the bonus, but was impressed with Rudolph and Alan’s late race charge.
“Erick was really good last time he was here,” commented Paine. “We just missed it a little bit on tires and maybe set up. We spent the night changing the rear end, so we’re lucky to have even finished. Al was good at the end, he made up almost a straightaway there at the end and I thought he was going to get him.”
Rudolph now joins Ron Cartwright Jr., Alan Johnson, Bob Henry Jr., Ryan Susice and Matt Sheppard as the only six drivers who can say they have won a Dutch Hoag Memorial.
Earlier in the evening, Matt Sheppard won the 7s Wild seven-lap $700-to-win dash for cash. An event that saw Steve Paine lead early, but drop out on the third lap when the rear end failed on his No. 7x. Paine’s crew thrashed in the pit area to change to a new rear end, before the seventy-lap feature was called to the lineup.
Outlaw Speedway Dutch Hoag Memorial Official Results 10/23/2016:
MODIFIEDS, 36 cars (70 Laps): ERICK RUDOLPH, Alan Johnson, Steve Paine, Cory Costa, Bobby Varin, Tyler Siri, Ray Bliss, Billy Van Pelt, Pat Ward, Stacey Jackson, Brian Malcolm, Rusty Smith, Joe Dgien, Kenny Peoples Jr., Steven Deinhardt, Brady Fultz, Jim LaRock, Matt Curry, Ron Cartwright Jr., Donnie Lawson, Danny Varin, Matt Sheppard, Marcus Dinkins, Randy Chrysler
$700-to-win Modified Dash: MATT SHEPPARD, Tyler Siri, Erick Rudolph, Ron Cartwright Jr., Brian Malcolm, Jim LaRock, Cory Costa, Billy Van Pelt, Marcus Dinkins, Steve Paine
DNQ: Eldon Payne, Dillon Groover, Chris Ostrowsky, Ken Titus, Tim Murphy, Derrick Podsiadlo, Dave DuBois, Dale Welty, Brian Nelson, Lee Bills, Todd Hayward, Butch Green
Heat Winners: Steve Paine, Brian Malcolm, Matt Sheppard, Tyler Siri, Billy Van Pelt
Consi 1: Bobby Varin, Randy Chrysler, Danny Varin, Joe Dgien
Consi 2: Brady Fultz, Ray Bliss, Pat Ward, Rusty Smith