By MIKE MALLETT
Florida doesn’t make or break your season, but having a good week can certainly boost the confidence when you head back north.
Erick Rudolph left last year’s Super DIRTcar Series portion of the DIRTcar Nationals with a destroyed race car after competing just one night.
This year, he left Saturday night with the final spot on the podium and solid week of DIRTcar Nationals action.
“It didn’t take much to do better than we did last year,” said Rudolph. “We are really happy. Something that we’ve struggled with these past few years, not just here, but everywhere is qualifying and heat races. It seems like when you have really good time trials all the time and good heat races you are always in the redraw, which is important at these races.
“There’s just so many cars that are good. You gotta give yourself a chance to start somewhere near the front and this week we did that. I think each night we got better and better. I would have liked to get in last night too because I felt like we were rolling pretty good, but Mother Nature had different plans.”
Rudolph had a chance to make Saturday even better. He was locked to Jack Lehner’s rear bumper on the bottom of the speedway on the final lap. Williamson went by Lehner on the top and Rudolph was left with a third place finish.
“I got by (Mat) Williamson at one point, maybe a handful of laps before the end there,” said Rudolph. “Lehner seemed like he was coming back a little bit. At the same time the lapped cars played a factor too. All three of us had a shot at it. The cards fell Matty’s way tonight.”