Race Fans that braved the unseasonably cold temperatures were treated to a night of hot on track action that in some cases led to overheated tempers.
Third generation driver Erick Rudolph and Kevin Knapp scored their first 2013 wins in Lococo’s Wholesale Night at Merrittville Saturday May 11th in the Bobcat of Hamilton 358 Modified and Hoosier Stock Divisions respectively.
Lucas Oil Weekly Racing Series action also saw three drivers make their second straight visits to Victory Lane – Kyle Pelrine, Josh Sliter and Brad Rouse in the Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinder, J&S Heating and Air Conditioning Modified Lites and the Rick’s Delivery Sportsman Features.
“We have been working more than a year to get this one,” thanked Erick Rudolph in Bobcat of Hamilton 358 Modified Victory Lane for the first time in his career, “thanks to my crew and my sponsors – you had to be passive and aggressive at the same time. Now we have to be here when it’s a dry and slick!”
It has probably been close to 25 years since a Rudolph has been in Victory Lane at the Thorold facility and Erick’s dad – former racer Charlie was one of the first to congratulate him.
Around the halfway point and beyond of the 35 lap event, Rudolph and then leader Mike Bowman staged quite a battle for the lead with Chris Steele also in the fray.
The first serious challenge by Rudolph came on lap 20 after pulling alongside Bowman with Steele challenged by Scott Wood. With Bowman running high and Rudolph low – both drivers were looking for the advantage – one that Rudolph found on lap 23 after taking the lead. Caution on lap 25 would slow the pace. Again the two front-runners were side by side until Bowman regained top spot only to be slowed once again.
Rudolph was able to power back past Bowman for good with Pete Bicknell taking control of second on lap 28. The 22 time points champion still looking for his first win of the season could not catch Rudolph by the Checkered Flag however.