ERICK RUDOLPH CLAIMS FIRST EVER MODIFIED WIN IN ROC TOUR 75 AT WCIS
By Dave Buchanan
Sixteen-year-old racing sensation Erick Rudolph has been successful in any kind of racecar that he has driven. In just a few short years Rudolph has raced and won in Go-Karts, SST Modifieds, and Micro Sprints. Now he can add Race of Champions Modified Tour feature winner to his list of accomplishments.
Rudolph captured the win in the RoC Tour’s second visit of the season to Wyoming County International Speedway as he led all 75 laps of the feature from the pole position.
“It’s a wish come true,” Rudolph said “wouldn’t have wanted to win anywhere else but here (WCIS).”
Rudolph had the luck of the draw after he finished second in his heat race. He drew the #1 chip out of the bag to have the luxury of leading the field to the green flag. Brian DeFebo of Berwick, PA drew the second starting spot and was alongside Rudolph at the drop of he initial green flag.
Both Rudolph and DeFebo controlled nearly the entire first half of the race as the first 33 laps were run without a caution period. This allowed the pair to pull away from the rest of the pack, and even get into some lapped traffic before the yellow flag waved for the first time.
The yellow flag did come on lap 33 when Tony Hanbury and Matt Clemens collided in turn two, while Eric Beers spun as he tried to avoid them. The caution period signaled pits stops for half of the 21-car field as teams bolted new right rear tires onto their cars.
The race restarted with Rudolph and DeFebo still leading followed by Daren Scherer, Todd Smith, John Markovic, Chris Zacharias, and Matt Hirschman.
An extended caution period happened on lap 47 when Eric Beers leaked oil and water all over the track due to overheating problems. Beers, a former Race of Champions 200 winner, was fielding the #71 entry for Zacharias Racing.
The lengthy caution benefited both Billy Putney and Beers. Beers’ crew was able to cool down the car enough for him continue while Putney’s crew had to fix a broken wheel hub on the left front wheel that included replacing the brake rotor. A handful of other teams also pitted for a tire or setup changes.
This left Rudolph and DeFebo still out in front with Scherer, Hirschman, and Rusty Smith behind them. The first four cars were the only ones that elected not to pit for a new tire while Smith was the first of the cars that did.
The race continued until lap 64 when a pair of caution periods slowed the race again. Chris Zacharias spun in turn four on lap 63 to bring out the first yellow, and then Eric Beers spun out on the frontstretch just a lap after the ensuing restart.
The running order remained the same as the race resumed with just 11 laps to go. Rudolph quickly pulled away from the pack, as he looked smooth despite being one of the few cars not to put on a new right rear tire during the race.
The same could not be said for DeFebo as he fell into the clutches of the rest of the lead pack during the final 10 laps. He surrendered second place to Matt Hirschman with just four laps remaining while Rudolph looked to be cruising to victory. However a spin by John Markovic on lap 73 brought the yellow flag out one last time and set up a green-white-checkered finish.
On the final restart Rudolph got a great jump on Hirschman and pulled away. Hirschman tried to recover with a great final lap, but it would not be enough to catch the speedy teenager. Rudolph held on to put his DeLange Racing #45 in victory lane for his first win ever behind the wheel of a full-blown Modified and first ever on the Race of Champions Tour trail.
Hirschman finished second as he posted his fourth-straight top three finish at Wyoming County.
“Somehow at the end of the day we end up right here (in the top three),” Hirschman said, “we’ve been stringing together top threes here lately, that takes care of business on my end.”
Daren Scherer equaled his finish from the first RoC Tour event in June as he finished third. Rudolph’s DeLange Racing teammate, Bobby Holmes, finished fourth. Pete Brittain rounded out the top five.
Bill Mislin wrapped an incredible weekend in the SST Modifieds as he won for the second time in three days. It was his third win of the season overall. Mislin passed Rick Kluth for first after a restart on lap seven and never looked back as he led the final 23 laps to get the win.
Kevin Lewis finished second. Coincidently Lewis has finished second on three different occasions this year with of all them coming in the same races that Mislin has won. Rick Kluth finished third driving the Jim Love’s team car that is usually piloted by Ed Weber. Richard Thomas and Jim Pierce completed the top five.
The Street Stock and INEX Legends divisions made their season debuts at the Perry Bullring. Both classes will be feature every Sunday throughout the rest of the summer and will expose more race teams to the fun and exciting competition at WCIS.
Andy Jankowiak of Tonawanda, NY captured the first feature of the season for the Street Stock division. Jankowiak led 23 of 25 laps after passing Bobby Hanel for first on lap three. Tim Garlock finished. Hanel, Kevin Mendel, and Matt Jurek posted top five runs.
Jason Urso of Binghamton, NY won the 30-lap feature for the INEX Legends. Urso caught and passed Daren Scherer for the lead on lap 13 following a great side-by-side battle between the two drivers. Scherer held on to finish second ahead of Matt Priscott, Justin Petcosky, and Rob Brierton. It was the first ever Legends race held at WCIS
Jim Morgan won the 10-lap feature for the New York Modified Midgets.
Next week, July 21st, the Casey Midget Series returns for their third visit of the season. The Super Stocks and 4-Cylinder Wasps will join them Friday night. Racing starts at 7:30 PM. The SST Modifieds will have the night off, but they will be back in action on Sunday afternoon as part of the Dirt Modified Expo. Dirt Modifieds will try their hand at racing on the Perry Bullring's tricky asphalt surface. The Street Stocks and Legends will also be on the race card. Sunday racing starts at 2:30 PM.
RACE OF CHAMPIONS DART ASPHALT MODIFIED TOUR
Heat Winners – Billy Putney, Pete Brittain, Brian DeFebo
Feature – ERICK RUDOLPH, Matt Hirschman, Daren Scherer, Bobby Holmes, Pete Brittain, Rick Kluth, Billy Putney, Lee Sherwood, Todd Smith, Brian DeFebo, Rusty Smith, Danny Knoll Jr., Phil Slater, Eric Beers, Chris Zacharias, Mark Tychoneiwicz, Dan Chimera, John Markovic, Matt Clemens, Bill Mislin, Tony Hanbury
Gater Racing News $500 Driver Bonus Draw – Danny Knoll Jr.
Dart Heads Giveaway – Matt Clemens
Hard Charger Award – Rick Kluth (18th to 6th)
Hard Luck Award – Mark Tychoniewicz (6th to 16th), John Markovic (8th to 18th)
Heat Winners – Rick Kluth, Bill Mislin
Feature – BILL MISLIN, Kevin Lewis, Rick Kluth, Richard Thomas, Jim Pierce, Jim Love, Dick Kluth, Butch Crawford, Don Pringle, Mike Bliss, Erick Rudolph
Heat Winner – Andy Jankowiak
Feature – ANDY JANKOWIAK, Tim Garlock, Bobby Hanel, Kevin Mendel, Matt Jurek, Frank Moyer, Debbie Jurek, Tim Neis, Kenny Begnouche
Heat Winner – Jason Urso
Feature – JASON URSO, Daren Scherer, Matt Priscott, Justin Petcosky, Rob Brierton, Geroge Cashman, Art Priscott, Chris Bohlman, Zach Truesdail DNS: Tony Hanbury, David Cahsman