CANANDAIGUA, NY – Mid-Season Championship runs on Honeoye Auto Parts/American Equipment Night offered a preview of what may come in two more months as Pepsi Big-Block Modified point leaders Erick Rudolph and Matt Sheppard finished 1-2 in their 50-lap main event while Canandaigua Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram Sportsman Modified front-runners Kevin Root and Kane Bristol successfully defended home soil, securing the top-two spots in the 40-lap DIRTcar Northeast Series Central Region showdown.
“The car was working for me, found a nice line there but was nervous that Matt was gonna come back or Billy (Dunn),” remarked reigning track points king Rudolph, 27, after scoring the third feature win in his last four tries at LOLR. Sheppard owns the other four first-place trophies this season and leads Rudolph by 21 markers, 487-466, after Saturday’s double-point program.
“Just had to keep working hard and pass as many lapped cars as I could. Was kind of stuck in the middle (lane) because I didn’t really know where to go and luckily enough it worked out good for us. Matt’s a great competitor and gives it his all every night like all the guys. I think we’re making ground on him but he’s still one of, if not the best, right now,” noted Rudolph, on the heels of his seventh career Big-Block triumph at the Ontario County Fairgrounds.
Rudolph filled in 14th on the starting grid outside of Sheppard in the 19-car field. While talented teenager Jeff Daugherty led the early going from his start on the pole, ‘Erick The Great’ from Ransomville methodically worked his way to the front, cracking the top-10 after only a handful of circuits in the extended Modified main.
Following the second and final yellow flag for the parked mount of Daniel Johnson Jr. between turns one and two, Rudolph’s night almost came to abrupt halt when the field jumbled up on the ensuing lap eight restart. Rudolph retained important track position yet the right side his potent #25 reVive Spine Center-Blue Cross Blue Shield/Bicknell machine was caved in as the pack paraded out of turn.
First-year LOLR regular Dillon Groover grabbed the point from Daugherty on lap nine while Rudolph cruised into fourth the next circuit. When Dunn sped past Groover high down the back chute, Rudolph mirrored the move down low and took control of second as the leaders crossed under starter Scott Hixson’s flagstand.
Meanwhille, ‘Super Matt’ was carving his way to the front, overtaking Phil Vigneri III for a front-five spot on lap 16 and looking for more. Rudolph nosed under Dunn for the final lead change on lap 18 and at the halfway mark Sheppard improved to third ahead of Groover and Alan Johnson, all in search of the $2,500 top prize.
It took more than a dozen laps for Sheppard to wrestle away second from Dunn, and despite Matt able to knock off a half-second every lap in pursuit of the leader, Rudolph held on for a seven car-length victory margin and bragging rights for another week. Dunn, Johnson and Justin Haers in his back-up Phelps Cement Product entry rounded out the final top-five.
“Don’t like to see things like that (dented side), just means a little extra work tomorrow,” figured Rudolph, who harbored plans to contest in Super DIRTcsr Series events the next two days in Cornwall, Ont. and Plattsburgh before returning for a timely tour stop on Thursday in Canandaigua. “Someone just got crossed up and I ran into him a bit. Its a shame with a relatively new door but we’ll straighten it out and get ready for the next one.”
Land of Legends Raceway Event Summary – June 29, 2019
Honeoye Auto Parts and American Equipment present Mid-Season Championships
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (50 laps double points): 1. 25-Erick Rudolph ($2,500), 2. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 3. 49-Billy Dunn, 4. 14j-Alan Johnson, 5. 3-Justin Haers, 6. 22-Jeff Daugherty, 7. 12x-Dillon Groover, 8. 23-Kyle Coffey, 9. 44v-Phil Vigneri III, 10. 11j-James Sweeting, 11. 19w-Justin Wright, 12. 21p-Derrick Podsiadlo, 13. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 14. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 15. 63-Adam Roberts, 16. 77-Lance Dusett, 17. 14ny-Daniel Johnson Jr., 18. 21x-Eric Williams, 19. 07-Patrick Emerling.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Groover, Sheppard, Haers, Sweeting, Daugherty, Coffey, Dunn, Tegg, Maier.
#2: Vigneri, Rudolph, Williams, A.Johnson, Podsiadlo, Wright, Dusett, Roberts, Emerling, D.Johnson.