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Erick Rudolph Ends Busy Weekend with Solid Top-Three Finishes
Finishes Third at Ransomville Speedway and Second at Dunn Tire Raceway
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (August 31, 2010) - Heinke Baldwin Racing (HBR) Development Driver Erick Rudolph took the month-break in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) schedule to race near his hometown, including his hometown track.
The Ransomville, N.Y., native returned to Ransomville Speedway on Friday and finished third. He then raced at Dunn Tire Raceway on Saturday, just one week after winning there in a TQ midget, and finished second in the modified race.
The weekend started just one mile from Rudolph's home as he competed in the Mighty Taco Modified race at Ransomville Speedway. The half-mile dirt oval is laced with Rudolph family history. The 18-year-old's father, Charlie, won the Modified Track Championship in 1982 and 1986. His grandfather, Jim, won both the Mini-Stocks and Hobby Stock Championships in 1963 and 1964.
Per track protocol, the field is lined up by handicap. Since Rudolph has not made a start this season, he started from the back of the pack in the 18th position. Unlike the NWMT races, he had just 35 laps to maneuver his way through the field. The 18-year-old worked his way up to the third spot when the checkered flag flew.
"We started in the back in 18th and had to work our way up through the field," explained Rudolph. "It was a short race, so we didn't have a lot of time to pass people. I am proud that we made it up to third. I started racing Ransomville in go-karts, and a lot of the drivers I looked up to while growing up still race there. Even if I wasn't racing on Friday, I would have been out at Ransomville, so it was nice to be able to compete there."
One week after winning in a TQ midget at Dunn Tire Raceway, Rudolph returned to compete in the Tommy Druar and Tony Jankowiak Memorial Modified 100 at the 5/8-mile asphalt oval. With 32 laps complete in the race, Rudolph was in a tight battle with four cars for the seventh position. By the halfway mark, he worked his way to the sixth spot.
At lap 52, the HBR team took advantage of a caution to make their pit stop. By lap 75, fresh tires helped him moved up three spots to third place. When the caution flag waved on lap 85, Rudolph was sitting in second. During the next green flag run, he battled hard with leader Matt Hirschman. Another caution came on lap 94. When racing resumed, he battled Tom McGrath to hold onto second. Then the checkered flag flew on the 100th lap, he crossed the line in second.
"We had a good pit strategy, so I had fresher tires at the end of the race that helped us to get to second," said the Ransomville, N.Y., native. "It was a fun race and a close battle at the end."
Another off-weekend will allow Rudolph and the HBR team to return to local racing. Friday, he will compete in the RACE Of CHAMPIONS Modified Tour 100-Lap event at Spencer Speedway, and Saturday, the team will head across the border to race in Canada in a dirt modified event.