NEWBERRYTOWN, PA – For the first time ever on the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By VP, Erick Rudolph reached Victory Lane.
And it was a big one.
Rudolph, of Ransomville, N.Y., guided Randy Chrysler’s Modified to a $10,000 payday Sunday night at Susquehanna Speedway in the 16th annual York County Nationals, edging Stewart Friesen in a side-by-side battle to the checkered flag.
Rudolph became the 20th different winner in the 42-race history of the STSS.
“I’ve got to thank Randy (Chrysler, car owner),” Rudolph said to an enthusiastic crowd. “We’ve won some races together, but I’d have to say this one is by far the biggest.”
A healthy field of 40 STSS Modifieds took part in the program, featuring the sole appearance by the division at the Central PA oval owned by Scott Gobrecht and managed by Kolten Gouse.
Rudolph’s No. 25R mount started second in the 26-car feature field. However it was Friesen – who rolled off fourth – making a quick surge forward early in the 50-lap main. Friesen’s Halmar International-backed No. 44 jetted into the top spot on the second tour of the red clay track.
Two laps later, Rudolph followed into second with an epic battle raging from third back through the field led by Billy Pauch Sr., Jeff Strunk and Craig Von Dohren swapping positions.
The race’s most significant incident, a four-car tangle in turn one, drew the red flag on lap 19. At that point Friesen led Rudolph, Pauch Sr., Strunk and Von Dohren.
STSS rules dictate double-file restarts through five laps remaining in series main events.
Friesen, picking the inside lane, survived ensuing restarts on laps 34 and 35 to maintain the lead. It was on lap 38, however, that Rudolph was able to utilize the high line in the first and second turns to sweep into the lead.
The race’s final yellow on lap 42 set up an epic run to the finish.
The leaders rubbed rails coming to the green with Rudolph again out front occupying the topside. Friesen drove to the extreme bottom and by lap 45, was pulling even with the leader at the exit of turn four.
The pair raced neck-and-neck to for the last five laps, with Rudolph edging Friesen by a nose at the wave of the checkered.
Friesen, of Sprakers, N.Y., settled for runner-up pay and took over the series point lead in the process, with Oley, Pa.’s Von Dohren – who at one moment attempted a three-wide maneuver for the lead – placing third in Dick Biever’s No. 14s after starting ninth.
Strunk, aboard the Glenn Hyneman-owned No. 126, ended a solid effort in fourth position at a speedway where the Boyertown, Pa., driver was a former regular. Wind Gap, Pa.’s Frank Cozze completed the front five driving Tom Umbenhauer’s No. 4 spec head small-block mount run regularly on Saturday nights at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa.
Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were Rick Laubach of Hellertown, Pa., up from 10th in the Ryan Kerr-owned No. 1K; Jimmy Horton of Neshanic Station, N.J., in a steady drive aboard the Halmar International No. 43; 11th-starter Andy Bachetti of Sheffield, Mass., after pitting midway through the event and charging through traffic; Jordan Watson of Milford, Del., after a poor initial draw through the gate; and Pauch Sr., the Frenchtown, N.J., veteran who faded in the race’s final laps.
Four heat races, 10 laps in length, went to Von Dohren, Horton, Friesen and Wade Hendrickson.
The consolations were annexed by Jeremy Smith and Ryan Watt.
Mason Chaney won the accompanying Service Master Clean-sponsored 20-lap Central PA Legends Car event, earning $500.
A busy month of August looms for the STSS. Up next is the ‘Summer of 69’ at Bethel Motor Speedway in White Lake, N.Y., on Sunday, August 6: $6,900 to win for dirt Sportsman on the quarter-mile paved oval. The next Halmar International North Region event takes place Tuesday, August 15 with the Recovery Sports Grill ‘Stampede at ‘toga’ at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y. Next up on the Velocita-USA South Region docket is the K&B Auto ‘Blast at the Beach 4’ on the Georgetown (Del.) Speedway half-mile Tuesday, August 29.
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SUSKY SHORTS: With a ‘chamber of commerce’ sunny day in York Haven, Pa., a much-improved crowd took in the program over the first edition a year ago. The pit was also bolstered by 40 STSS Modifieds and 29 Central PA Legends….
The total pay structure for 50 laps of Modified racing was a massive $30,670….
Feature track conditions were wide and racy, with multi-groove action up to a cushion on the topside. Pre-feature track work paid off with wheel-to-wheel racing….
Duane Howard, second in points entering the night (only seven out of the lead) was a feature retiree with a broken steering box in the Norm Hansell-owned No. 357. Ryan Watt, who had been leading the points, limped to a 16th-place result after his Ron Roberts team completed suspension repairs….
A remarkable effort by the team saw Ryan Godown flip in his heat race and return to qualify through a consolation! Godown’s Searock Fabrication-backed No. 26 had driven back through traffic to run inside the top seven only to get shuffled back to 13th in late scrambles….
Newcomers to the series included J.R. McGinley and Rick Regalski racing out of Western PA. Grandview standouts Doug Manmiller and Mike Gular also made their first STSS starts of the year….
Seven drivers who compete regularly in the Delaware made the tow, with Jordan Watson leading the First State brigade in ninth….
The 2017 Short Track Super Series is presented by American Racer/Lias Tire, VP Racing Fuel, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Halmar International, Allstar Performance, ATL Racing Fuel Cells, Behrent’s Performance Warehouse, Bicknell Racing Products, Dirt Track Digest, Fast Axle, Fox Racing Shocks, Hig Fab, Henry’s Exhaust, HyperCo, Keizer Wheels, Kirkey Racing Fabrication, K&N, QA1, Race Pro Weekly, Racing Optics, Teo-Pro Car, Velocita, Weld & Wilwood.
YORK COUNTY NATIONALS RACE SUMMARY – SUSQUEHANNA SPEEDWAY JULY 30, 2017
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By VP Velocita South Region Event No. 5 Big-Block/Small-Block Modified Feature Finish (50 laps): ERICK RUDOLPH, Stewart Friesen, Craig Von Dohren, Jeff Strunk, Frank Cozze, Rick Laubach, Jimmy Horton, Andy Bachetti, Jordan Watson, Billy Pauch Sr., Jared Umbenhauer, David Van Horn Jr., Ryan Godown, Brett Kressley, Kevin Sockriter, Ryan Watt, Doug Manmiller, Matt Jester, Mike Gular, Jeremy Smith, Wade Hendrickson, Billy Pauch Jr., Richie Pratt Jr., Duane Howard, Jim Britt, Shawn Ward.
Did Not Qualify: J.R. McGinley, Dave Dissinger, Nick Mady, Lou Cicconi Jr., Danny Bouc, Randy Chrysler, Skyler Sherriff, Rick Regalski, Grant Hilfiger, Jamie Mills, Joseph Watson, Chris Grbac, Dom Buffalino, Robert Dutton.
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE tire): Jimmy Horton (seventh) & Kevin Sockriter (15th)
ATL Fuel Cell Bonus ($200 Certificate): Frank Cozze (fifth)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 gift card): Jeff Strunk (fourth) & Jordan Watson (ninth)
Dig Race Products Hard Charger Award ($249 Certificate): Ryan Godown (23rd to 13th)
Fast Axle Bonus ($50 Certificate): Rick Laubach (sixth)
Keizer Racing Wheels Bonus (FREE Wheel): Erick Rudolph (winner)
QA1 Hard Charger Bonus ($50 Certificate): Ryan Godown (23rd to 13th)
VP Racing Fuels Bonuses ($50 Certificates): Stewart Friesen (second), David Van Horn Jr. (12th) and Billy Pauch Jr. (22nd)
Weld Wheels Bonus ($50 Certificate): Ryan Watt (16th)
Wilwood ‘Lucky 7’ Bonus ($50 Certificate): Jimmy Horton (seventh)