By MIKE MALLETT
Erick Rudolph had his work cut out for him in Friday night’s season opener at the Big Diamond Speedway. The Ransomville, N.Y., driver missed the redraw in his qualifying even and had to start 14th. Rudolph clawed his way through the field to earn an impressive fifth place finish at the conclusion of the 30-lap affair.
“That is a hard earned fifth place,” stated Rudolph. “We had to work our butt off. We were a little under powered with our engine combination in the heat race. Our car handled perfect in the heat but we just couldn’t get a couple more spots. It wasn’t for lack of handling. Once the feature came around we could hang in there. In the middle of the race we were really fast but towards the end I loosened up a bit.”
Rudolph, driving his family No. 25, utilized Friday night as a test session as well for later in the season. Rudolph has plenty of experience on the Hoosier tires but Friday offered him an opportunity to run American Racer tires.
“We are going to run about a dozen or so shows with the American Racers,” he said. “We are here doing some testing for that. We definitely learned some things. We are going to write it down in our notebook for later in the year.”
Those events join a busy schedule that Rudolph has planned for the 2016 season. Besides the family team, Rudolph has several starts planned with Randy Chrysler as well as a team he competed for last season with a new number.
“Ransomville (Speedway) and Merrittville (Speedway), we’ll be there most of the time,” commented Rudolph. “That is going to be with the 62 team. We’ll be there unless there is a BRP (The Modified Tour) race or somewhere else we need to go then we’ll go, but that is our Friday and Saturday night plans. We’ll run the big-block with Randy Chrysler. There are four series or something like that in the area. We’ll go here and there and everywhere. We’ll have a busy schedule.”
The 62 team that Rudolph is running for in the 358-Modified ranks is the same team he drove for in 2015 owned by Rob Clark.
“It was the 19 car last year,” mentioned Rudolph. “I drove for him about a dozen times. We got a win at Humberstone (Speedway) and a tons of second. It’s a good runner. We have a new car with a freshened engine. I’m excited about it.”
Rudolph wrapped up his weekend with a top ten in the Hard Clay Open on Saturday night at the Orange County Fair Speedway.