By MIKE MALLETT
Erick Rudolph had not won an Indoor Auto Racing Series event on the concrete since January of 2017. He sat stuck at eight career wins in the series.
Friday night he was close to driving to a win, but fell off late allowing Justin Bonsignore to score the victory at Exposition Center at the New York State Fairgrounds. Saturday night the Ransomville, N.Y., pilot redeemed himself with a win while also claiming in the indoor series point championship.
“Yesterday we were more lucky than good, but today we had both,” stated Rudolph after the win. “To draw one like that, we had a little work in our heat race where we started third. We won that. From there it was just keeping an eye on the track. We knew we had a good racer. We didn’t want to dial ourselves out. We made good decisions today.”
Rudolph, a regular on the Super DIRTcar Series and the 2018 champion at Land of Legends Raceway, got to win in front a crowd that was very pro dirt Modified drivers with it being the first event in Syracuse, the heart of big-block racing.
“There are a lot of fans and family here,” commented Rudolph. “They are not only mine, but Mark’s (Lafler) and some of our crew guy’s family were able to make it today. To get a win and a nice showing even yesterday, that was good.”
It was Rudolph’s ninth career indoor win moving him past the late Ted Christopher on the all-time list putting him solely at the top. It meant a lot to Rudolph. He had his fair share of great battles with Christopher over the years when their paths crossed during the indoor season.
“I won’t lie and say that it doesn’t mean anything to me, it really does,” stated Rudolph. “Teddy was the great one when I first got in. He was the guy. He put a whoopin’ on everyone, even when I started. Eventually we started challenging him. To still be competitive, and it gets more and more hard to be competitive now with the competition level the way it is. Mark has all of his cars out there. It’s tough. Like I told you before, you got to be good, but a lot of it is luck too. To have everything fall in place to win nine times now, it means a lot.”
The win propelled him to the $2,000 indoor title as well. Rudolph is the all-time record holder in the modern era in that regard as well. Rudolph claimed his fourth title with the win on Saturday. He got some help with the point leader prior to the weekend, Ryan Flores, off working his job in NASCAR. He still did his part with a second and win on the weekend.
“The championship is good,” mentioned Rudolph. “It’s a nice bonus. It means some to some people here, but I like to win. With the indoor racing the way it is, the luck being involved, it is a lot luck to win one of these championships. We did our part. We were consistent. To cap it off with the win here and the championship is something special.”
Rudolph will now look to ride the momentum earned during the off-season indoor campaign into the 2019 outdoor season.