By MIKE MALLETT
Erick Rudolph got Super DIRT Week XLV started on the right note as he finally killed the gorilla that’s been on his back at the Weedsport Speedway. The Ransomville, N.Y., driver was close to getting a win at the facility earlier in the season before losing it late to Gary Tomkins. Wednesday he left no doubt in winning the 75-lap DIRTcar 358-Modified Series event.
“This means a lot,” said Rudolph afterwards. “We had a lot of strong runs here. Even last year we were good here, but to finally be able to finish a race the way we wanted to was great. I’m really proud of the car and proud of the whole team. It’s a big win for us. It’s the first win for whole team here at Weedsport. This carries a lot of momentum for the weekend.”
Rudolph admitted that winning early in the week is important to any team because it sets the tone for the rest of the week. It gets the toughest week in Modified racing off on the right foot.
“To get it early definitely sets things off on the right foot,” mentioned Rudolph. “Everyone won’t have a hard time getting up to work on the cars tomorrow. Everyone is pumped up. We got a lot of racing to look forward to. We are excited about it.”
Rudolph used the bottom throughout the race. He did the best he could to not get off the inner lane of the speedway. Even is traffic he only moved to the top of the race track if it was absolutely necessary.
“The car was hooked up on the bottom,” commented Rudolph. “Even when I got to lapped traffic I had a hard time passing anyone on the outside. I just really wanted to be right on the bottom. I don’t know if that was the preferred line for everyone or what.”
Rudolph’s week is only going to get busier as it progresses. His Saturday will be especially hectic as he will compete in the Salute the Troops 150 before heading to the Short Track Super Series Short Track Supernationals at I-88 Speedway. It’s the north region finale. He’s currently chasing Andy Bachetti in point standings and going into the final event he trails by just five points.
“The plan is to race at Oswego then leave right after,” he said. “We’ll have a car waiting there. We aren’t leading the points anymore, but we still got a shot at it. We definitely want to be down there. It’s the last race of the year so we’ll see how it goes.”
It will be a challenge for Rudolph, but he does have some experience running multiple races in the same night. He did it several times when he ran on the pavement.
“I haven’t done it at different tracks before,” stated Rudolph. “I ran Sportsman and Modified when I ran asphalt all the time. To jump out of the car and go to a different track is new to me. Today we were at Oswego, here tonight, so I guess it won’t be too different, but Saturday will be a lot of laps for sure.”
Regardless of what happens for Rudolph, he’s got a good feeling heading into the rest of the week.