By MIKE MALLETT
Had the race been another lap or Erick Rudolph been held up for just one more small moment Billy Decker might have been celebrating his second win of the weekend on Monday night at the Weedsport Speedway. The former Super DIRTcar Series Champion came up just a few feet short at the line finishing second in the final tally in the Heroes Remembered 100.
Decker, who redrew the worst possible starting position with 10th, was methodically working his way to the front on the very slippery racing surface. It took him until the final few laps to get close enough to Rudolph after he got stuck in traffic. He made his move off of the fourth corner to try and sneak under Rudolph to no avail.
“We were pretty good,” stated Decker of his LJL Racing Bicknell. “You got to be really special to dice through traffic real quick. It’s just tough sledding. We had a good race car, but obviously not good enough. I’m not sure if Erick…he might have been a little bit better in open track, but I would have liked to have a shot. He was solid. You can’t take nothing away from him. I was very happy with the way our car performed. I think a couple small changes we’ll be right there.”
Decker had one other shot with three laps remaining. He was to the back bumper of Rudolph coming off the fourth turn as he struggled in traffic. Rudolph had been trying to work the high-side of the speedway which allowed Decker to get close. Just as they raced into the first turn Rudolph darted to the bottom blocking Decker’s opportunity to advance.
“I thought right there I had the race car underneath me and I was solid then I missed it one turn down in one and I gave up a little bit of space,” mentioned Decker. “Then I grooved it in three and four and thought I had another shot at him because he got messed up by the lapped cars. He got slicing and dicing with a few cars there.”
Prior to Monday night’s runner-up effort, Decker scored his first ever Short Track Super Series win at the Thunder Mountain Speedway Sunday evening. For Decker, the reigning North Region Champion, the win has been a long time in the making for the Jeremy Smith owned team. He was again forced to start deep coming from 12th to the win.
“That was really good because it’s been a long time coming,” said Decker about Sunday’s triumph. “I had a really good race car last night. When you got a car like that it makes it a lot of fun. It really does. It was exciting. It is exciting when you can roll like that and you are racing like that. It gives you something to look forward to.”
Decker has been close on so many different occasions in the past so Sunday’s win was a bit of relief as the pressure is now off the team. The win was also important because it came at Thunder Mountain which is close to Decker’s Unadilla, N.Y., home and the Saturday night home of the Smith Racing team.
“It was important,” commented Decker. “We’ve been under achieving a little bit, race by race. We are solid all the time. We put a good race car together but we’ve been trying to get over that hump a little bit. We made some good improvements this winter. Obviously it was on last night.”