Canandaigua, NY – June 16, 2018 – Tom Skibinski, Land of Legends Raceway PR
It’s been four years since Ransomville’s Erick Rudolph last cracked the winner’s circle at Land Of Legends Raceway and at least a dozen since Gasport’s Dan Bennett reached victory lane anywhere.
The nearly two-hour tow from their Western New York home bases paid big dividends in the ‘Saturday Spectacular’ presented by Phelps Cement Products at the Ontario County Fairgrounds, with Rudolph pocketing $2,000 after the 35-lap Pepsi Big-Block Modified feature and Bennett collecting the $300 winner’s share in the 20-lap Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint Car A-Main.
“We’ll have to sit down over the next couple days and make a decision,” remarked Rudolph, 26, still uncertain whether LOLR will be his Saturday night hangout the remainder of the season after pulling ahead in the division point standings. “We like to run different places but its tough to leave a place like this especially when you’re doing really well.”
While just two yellow flags flew in the Modified main, the second slowdown proved pivotal for 16th starting Rudolph as the Ransomville ridge runner charged from third to first on a lap 16 restart en route to a solid victory three-quarters of a straightaway ahead of open-wheel veterans Billy Dunn and Matt Sheppard.
“The heat was a little bit dusty out there so I took it pretty easy,” noted third-generation standout Rudolph, who posted his first two Canandaigua wins back-to-back in August of 2014 aboard Mike Payne’s no. 7z Honeoye Auto Parts-Page Trucking/Bicknell ride. His current Bob Bruneau-powered no. 25 Opti-Coat-Blue Cross/Blue Shield-Mohawk Northeast/Bicknell mount is co-owned by father Charlie Rudolph (overall 1986 Mr. DIRT Big-Block champ), Sam Lehr and the Briggs brothers. “Come feature time the dust kinda blew off and vision wasn’t an issue. Turned out to be a pretty racey track.”
“Was a little bit on the slippery side out there, nevertheless we were able to tune in this (car) just right for the conditions tonight. Each week I feel we’re gaining a step and there’s only an upside from here,” Rudolph said.
Pole-sitter Dave Allen led only two circuits before local pilot Eldon Payne Jr. moved to the point with Jimmy Maier, Adam Roberts and Gil Tegg Jr. in the early pursuit. Point leaders Rudolph, Sheppard, Dunn and Jimmy Phelps began in rows seven, eight and nine while Justin Haers, celebrating his father Jerry’s 73rd birthday prior to the race and looking for his first win on his company’s night in the VIP Tower, filed in ninth on the 24-car starting grid.
A long stretch of green flag racing produced numerous battles around the entire half-mile oval, with 10th starting James Sweeting finally tracking down Payne on lap 11. Sweeting held a comfortable advantage until his no. 11J Troyer machine jumped over the berm and came to rest high in turn one to incur the initial caution on lap 16.
And that’s all that Rudolph needed as he bolted past both Payne and Allen when the green lights reappeared to begin lap 16. Dunn grabbed second soonafter and Sheppard maneuvered into third by the halfway mark ahead of Payne, Haers and Phelps.
Despite a second and final yellow flag waving on lap 25 for Kyle Coffey’s Sweeteners Plus entry that bounced off the frontstretch wall and came to a halt in turn one, Rudolph never faultered as he pulled away from runner-up Dunn and ended the six-race win streak of third finishing ‘Super Matt.’ Haers and Phelps completed the final top-five.
“Wouldn’t be surprised if we’re here a bunch more times this season,” smiled Rudolph, after his third win of the 2018 campaign, the others coming in his hometown at Ransomville Speedway and at Tyler County (WV) Speedway in a BRP Modified Tour event. “Canandaigua is pretty close to home, its always a fun track to race at. With lots of competition here you find out pretty fast where you stand.”
“We can come here and learn a lot and its a fun facility for the fans and drivers alike. I still lean on my dad (17 LOLR wins) and grandfather (Jim Rudolph) a bunch. They’re a lot smarter than I am right now. My duty is to try and sponge off them as much as I can,” added Rudolph, who heads into next weekend clinging to a narrow five-point (398-393) lead over four-time winner Sheppard.
Land of Legends Raceway Event Summary – June 16, 2018
Phelps Cement Products presents Saturday Spectacular
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (35 laps): 1. 25-Erick Rudolph($2,000), 2. 3rs-Billy Dunn, 3. 9s-Matt Sheppard , 4. 3-Justin Haers, 5. 98h-Jimmy Phelps, 6. 6h-Max McLaughlin, 7. 21a-Peter Britten, 8. 11j-James Sweeting, 9. 28p-Eldon Payne,Jr., 10. 88-Dave Allen, 11. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 12. 77-Lance Dusett, 13. 63-Adam Roberts, 14. 23-Kyle Coffey, 15. 7x-Steve Paine, 16. 19w-Justin Wright, 17. 12-Brian Sage, 18. 48too-Dave Rauscher, 19. 5-Tom Keyes, 20. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 21. 16k-Kaitlin Pashina, 22. 174-Brian Boudreau, 23. 14j-Alan Johnson, 24. 21p-Derrick Podsiadlo.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Haers, Dunn, Tegg, Allen, Coffey, Maier, Sage, Keyes.
#2: Wright, Podsiadlo, Payne, McLaughlin, Sweeting, Britten, Dusett, Pashina.
#3: Sheppard, Johnson, Roberts, Rudolph, Paine, Phelps, Rauscher, Boudreau.