By JEFF WITHEY
WEEDSPORT, NY – Utilizing a fresh car, Erick Rudolph pounded the field into submission with a dominating performance. Starting thirdrd in the St. Lawrence Radiology 100, Rudolph took advantage of lap traffic on lap 15, taking the lead away from Pat Ward, and never looked back. Never.
Thirty cars started the first round of the fall season DIRTcar 358-Modified Series. Pat Ward drew the pole and before the feature started said the “bottom is where its going to be tonight.”
Ward would lead the first 14 laps with his first taste of intense lap traffic coming on lap 9. Erik Rudolph was right on Wards rear bumper even in traffic. While dicing it out in traffic, Ward came off the bottom in turn three and Rudolph drove under him. It was this move that was the key to victory for the Ransomville, N.Y., native.
“The car was flawless. No matter what we did to it, it responded. Its like we can do no wrong,” said Rudolph in victory lane.
While Rudolph was never challenged for the lead the rest of the way, the action behind him was hot and heavy with Tim Sear Jr., Ward and Todd Root.
With 15-laps in, Todd Root blasted into second over Pat Ward as they exited turn two.
With a quick caution on lap 21, the field regrouped and went back to work on lap 24. Just 12 laps later, Rudolph was into lapped traffic. The top four cars of Rudolph, Sears Jr., Ward, and Rood were checked out on the rest of the field.
Just before halfway, another caution came out this time for the 28 of Tyler Meeks who spun just past the exit of turn two and slapped the back-stretch wall.
On the ensuing restart on lap 56, Rudolph once again took command of the lead however Ward took advantage of a slight bobble of the 83x of Sears Jr. as they exited turn two on the restart. Ward was once again back to second and chasing down the leader Rudolph.
However, Ward had the spring rod break on the No. 42p and he was just barely able to hold on for the latter quarter of the race.
“We were just good enough to make it to the finish,” said Ward in victory lane after finishing third. “We were chasing Tim down and felt like we may have had something for the leader and then the spring rod broke and we held on for dear life.”
Ward had his hands full of Sears Jr., on lap 75 as the two veterans battled side by side for second with Sears Jr. eventually getting control of second just three laps later.
With 75 laps in while running in 5th, Jesse Mueller suffered a left front flat ending a terrific run by the young speed merchant from Olmstedville, NY. Mueller would bring out the caution again on lap 90.
A final caution came out on lap 94 and when the field went back racing, once again Rudolph showed how good his new car was by checking out on the field to claim his second consecutive 358- Super DIRT Week opener.
“The track was really narrow. The bottom was the preferred line around. I would like to thank Mohawk Northeast, Opti Coat, my family and all the people that make this happen,” said Rudolph in victory lane.
Rudolph is now a guaranteed starter for the Gander Outdoors 150 on Saturday.
Sears Jr., is a small-block standout. In the summer at Brewerton he won a DIRT 358 Series race and last weekend finished fifth in the Outlaw 200. He’s using one car for all the races this week that need a small-block.
“Having one car is easier than trying to manage separate cars for each track,” said Sears Jr. I’m a good small block racer, it’s a different driving style. You need to be consistent and hit your marks. Momentum racing. Where as in a big block you can muscle it around. Id like to have the power be equal in both cars, but I know that’s not going to happen. We are very confident in our program at all the tracks in Central New York. I just hope we don’t need to race Fulton on Saturday to get into the race on Sunday.”
WEEDSPORT RACE RESULTS 10/4/18
358-Modified St. Lawrence Radiology 100 (100 laps): (Erick Rudolph, Tim Sears Jr., Pat Ward, Ronnie Davis Jr., Larry Wight, Chad Brachmann, Bobby Varin, Robbie Bellinger, Roy Bresnahan, Steve Bernier, Lance Willix II, Steve Bernard, Ryan Arbuthnot, Marc Johnson, Dan Creeden, Glenn Forward, Mario Clair, James Sweeting, Ryan Susice, Billy Whittaker, Jessey Mueller, Rocky Warner, Todd Root, Tyler Trump, Brett Hearn, Tyler Meeks, Carey Terrance, Louie Jackson Jr., Matt Sheppard, Mike Maresca, Danny O’Brien)
358-Modified Time Trial Group 1: (Billy Whittaker 15.593, Pat Ward 15.698, Bobby Varin 15.709, Danny O’Brien 15.751, Ryan Susice 15.807, Louie Jackson Jr. 15.862, Mike Maresca 15.886, Ryan Bartlett 15.937, Donnie Elliot 16.513)
358-Modified Time Trial Group 2: (Todd Root 15.592, Rocky Warner 15.742, Roy Bresnahan 15.792, Randy Shantel 15.857, Carey Terrance 15.875, James Sweeting 15.904, Corey Wheeler 15.997, Michael Parent 16.023, Ronnie Davis 16.657, Bill Shantel Jr. DNS)
358-Modified Time Trial Group 3: (Jessey Mueller 15.890, Steve Bernier 15.910, Tyler Meeks 15.913, Mario Clair 15.933, Greg Martin 16.005, Tim Sears Jr. 16.017, John Smith 16.113, Randy Chantel 16.301, Michael Sabia 16.441)
358-Modifed Time Trial Group 4: (Chad Brachmann 15.554, Larry Wight 15.582, Tyler Trump 15.887, Glen Forward 15.971, Marc Johnson 15.977, Robbie Bellinger 15.998, Matt Sheppard 16.071, Matt Farnham 16.122, Steve Barber 16.239)
358-Modified Time Trial Group 5: (Erick Rudolph 15.719, Steve Bernard 15.765, Lance Willix II 15.848, Dan Creeden 15.938, Brett Hearn 15.954, Ryan Arbuthnot 16.007, Alan Johnson 16.051, Randy Green 16.059, Alex Therrien 16.142, Tom Neale 16.438)
358-Modified Heat 1 (8 laps): (Pat Ward, Billy Whittaker, Bobby Varin, Ryan Susice, Danny O’Brien, Mike Maresca, Louie Jackson Jr., Donnie Elliot, Ryan Bartlett)
358-Modified Heat 2 (8 laps): (Todd Root, Rocky Warner, Ronnie Davis Jr., Roy Bresnahan, Carey Terrance, James Sweeting, Michael Parent, Corey Wheeler, Ronnie Davis, Billy Shantel Jr.)
358-Modified Heat 3 (8 laps): (Tim Sears Jr., Mario Clair, Steve Bernier, Greg Martin, Tyler Meeks, Jessey Mueller, John Smith, Randy Shantel, Michael Sabia)
358-Modified Heat 4 (8 laps): (Larry Wight, Chad Brachmann, Marc Johnson, Tyler Trump, Matt Sheppard, Robbie Bellinger, Glenn Forward, Steve Barber, Matt Farnham)
358-Modified Heat 5 (8 laps): (Erick Rudolph, Lance Willix II, Steve Bernard, Ryan Arbuthnot, Dan Creeden, Brett Hearn, Randy Green, Tom Neale, Alan Johnson, Alex Therrien)
358-Modified Last Chance Showdown 1 (10 laps): (Dan Creeden, Danny O’Brien, Mario Clair, James Sweeting, Robbie Bellinger, Louie Jackson Jr., Alan Johnson, John Smith, Randy Green, Corey Wheeler, Randy Shantel, Steve Barber, Ryan Bartlett)
358-Modified Last Chance Showdown 2 (10 laps): (Matt Sheppard, Carey Terrance, Brett Hearn, Mike Maresca, Glenn Forward, Michael Parent, Greg Martin, Donnie Elliot, Matt Farnham, Billy Shantel Jr., Alex Therrien, Tom Neale, Michael Sabia)