By MIKE MALLETT
Erick Rudolph scored lucky number seven on in a special Wednesday night event for the Bicknell Racing Products Modified Tour event at the McKean County Raceway. It’s been an impressive run for the Ransomville, N.Y., driver as he has dominated the 2017 edition of the tour winning all but one series event to date, which includes the last seven in a row.
“We’ve won a bunch of races in a row and we are just having an awesome year,” stated Rudolph. “The car is working, I feel like I’m driving pretty good and the team is doing everything I ask of them, if not above the expectations. A long with that comes a little bit of luck. You’ve got to have it all to put one of these races together and right now got a good thing going.”
He’s approaching the ten win mark while driving for the Randy Chrysler team. They picked up the big win in the Short Track Super Series event at Susquehanna a couple weeks ago while dominating the BRP Modified Tour in 2017. It’s been a good season to date.
“This car here, we have fun in all the cars, but this is a travel car and there is no weekly stuff,” mentioned Rudolph. “We look forward to every event. It’s always fun when the cars are running good. It’s got to have a batting average of over 500 for the year. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
McKean County offered Rudolph the chance to race at another new track as does with much of the BRP Tour. He enjoys the chance to get out on the road to visit new places besides his traditional stomping grounds in Western and Central New York.
“I like going to new places,” said Rudolph. “This whole tour is basically new tracks or maybe places I’ve been to once or twice. It is a lot of fun for me. At home we’ve run Ransomville (Speedway) for five years, ran Canandaigua (Motorsports Park) 20 times and it doesn’t have same excitement as getting to a new track. I really look forward to these races.”
Rudolph has been nearly unstoppable in his POGO powered Bicknell on the tour. On Wednesday he struggled in the heat race before making a charge in the feature. He started 13th, got a good start before systematically picking cars off one at a time.
“This is our first time here at McKean County we took a look at the track and kind of guessed,” stated Rudolph. “We weren’t close to where we wanted to be. We suffered a bit in practice and then in the heat race. We threw some changes at it and away it went. We had a really good start. We must have got five or six of them on the initial start there. We got lucky. From there the car was handling perfect.”
Rudolph moved into second by the seventh lap setting his sights on outside front row starter Rex King Sr. King jumped out front early setting a torrid pace in the opening circuits. He found traffic by the lap five. Rudolph was chopping away at his lead before the caution came on lap 11 as Gerald Bowser and Chris Haines tangled. King beat him on the first restart but another quick caution gave Rudolph a second chance. This time he didn’t miss it.
“He’s a great competitor,” cited Rudolph of King Sr. “He got the jump on me on the initial restart, then on the second one he was a little bit ahead of me but I went in a little bit harder. I got him in one and two there. It seemed to work. I found a line and from there it was smooth sailing.”
Although things went smoothly, Rudolph quickly found himself in traffic after that. He was patient while working his way through the field. At the conclusion of the 35-lap affair he was passing cars inside the top ten.
“Once you get in traffic you got to stay on your toes,” cited Rudolph. “The lapped cars were pretty good tonight. They were pretty easy to get around. This track is pretty tough. I’m out there thinking I got full control but at the same time it feels like you are on the edge and out of control. It’s a tricky place to run.”