ALLENTOWN, PA –
By DEAN REYNOLDS
You can say Ransomville, NY’s Erick Rudolph picked up where he left off from 2015. The defending Lenny Sammons Promotions Indoor Series Champion started on the pole by luck of the draw and led every lap to win the very first Allentown Indoor Race at the immaculate PPL Center, home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
The first auto racing event held in the Allentown since 1989 and was so well received that it was a complete sell out. Tickets stopped being sold before the 7:00pm start time and then a few hundred were let in to watch from three standing room only areas that were designated.
Rudolph was debuting a new chassis from Mark Lafler and won his heat earlier in the night. With the redraw he picked the pole and was immediately dubbed the favorite.
“Picking the pole is key indoors, but you still have to run the race and get through the slower cars to get the win,” said the quiet Rudolph.
During the 40 lap feature event, no less that 12 restarts pitted some of the indoor’s best drivers trying to get by Rudolph’s #22. Justin Bonsignore, Ryan Susice and Jimmy Blewett all had their shots but just didn’t get enough of a run to get by.
As the laps went on the challengers dropped by the wayside as well, Susice was a victim of contact with Blewett and he showed his displeasure with the New Jersey runner. Bonsignore drifted high early and lost several valuable spots. Then before he could make a charge, he hopped a wheel on a lap eight caution and damaged his mount ending his chances. Blewett started to fade and fell back to fourth at race end.
“The double file restarts can make a difference but I never really had to much of a problem. Every time the car just took off,” Rudolph went on. “Even the lapped cars weren’t too much of an issue so it was a good race.”
With Rudolph’s domination, the race was indeed for second. Blewett was holding ground, but fellow Blewett chassis runner Ryan Flores was giving the man known as “Show Time” all he could handle.
Finally, seven laps from the end, Flores ducked under. While he was clearly faster than Blewett, he didn’t have enough to challenge the leader. At the checkered it was Rudolph about 12 car lengths ahead of Flores. It was Rudolph’s fourth career indoor series win.
Canadian Super Modified standout Mick Lichty also got by Blewett late to take third, Blewett did come home forth with Tim Buckwalter rounding out the top five.
The win for the former Mr. DirtCar 358 Series champion was worth $2,000 plus over $200 in lap money and other prizes. But, more importantly he now as a chance at the Vahlco Wheel $10,000 bonus awarded to a driver if he/she can complete the three race indoor sweep.
In the companion Slingshot 20 lap feature, Phillipsburg, NJ’s Eddie Reeder also went flag to flag to collect his $2,000 prize as well. He beat sprint car talent Joe Kata and third generation Cody Kline to the checkers.
Andy Jankowiak was the fastest in time trials earlier in the day blitzing the oval in 7.514. Jokingly he said it was a new track record, of course this is the first event.
ALLENTOWN NOTES – Of the 80 pre-entries, 71 TQ midgets did fill the pit area with 34 Slingshots making up their pit log…While Mark Lafler had the dominating chassis on this night, the new Cicconi design TQ’s for Alex Bright, Russ Gamester and Jeff Strunk drew a lot of attention. Only Bright made the feature and was an early drop out…Cicconi himself was a non challenger after looping his mount causing the first caution of the 40 lap feature…Joey Payne was a surprise DNQ, he missed by one spot…Former TQ indoor champion Ted Christopher had a quiet night and was an early drop out from the feature…Will Cagle did enter the event but had issues getting up to speed and was out of his drivers uniform before the heats start…Jimmy Zacharias was a last minute addition to the event and he picked up the last qualifying spot for the feature…NY sprint car star Scott Kreutter showed lots of speed but not much for luck. Problems in time trials saw him start scratch in his heat, he came through to finish one spot out of qualifying. In the B-Main he was leading when his chain then came off ending the hard luck night…For Geoff Quackenbush, his night lasted one hot lap session when he blew his clutch… The diverse field saw drivers from, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Vermont, Indiana, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Ontario Canada.
Ironton Telephone TQ Midget Feature (40 Laps): 1. Erick Rudolph, 2. Ryan Flores, 3. Mike Lichty, 4. Jimmy Blewett, 5. Tim Buckwalter, 6. Rob Neely, 7. Anthony Sesely, 8. Patrick Emerling, 9. Jonathan Reid, 10. Earl Paules, 11. Bobby Holmes, 12. Ryan Susice, 13. Jimmy Zacharias, 14. Lou Cicconi Jr., 15. Andy Jankowiak, 16. Dakota Kessler, 17. Pat VanVarick, 18. Sheldon Iudicello, 19. Neal Williams, 20. Ted Christopher, 21. Matt Janisch, 22. Justin Bonsignore, 23. Alex Bright, 24. Andrew Krause.
Slinger Warehouse Slingshot Feature (20 Laps): 1. Eddie Reeder, 2. Joe Kata III, 3. Cody Kline, 4. Frank Yankowski, 5. Danny Spellmon, 6. Kyle Herve, 7. Doug Maher, 8. Nick DelCampo, 9. AJ Gerhart 10. Anthony Raisner, 11. Nick Shaw, 12. Ed Stangle, 13. Matt Langbein, 14. Mike Glass, 15. Dave Carraghan, 16. Jim Housworth, 17. Kurt Bettler, 18. Tim Roeder, 19. Chris Kurtz, 20. Coby Kohl