Battle up front

Erick Rudolph (25) picked up the victory Monday in the 100-lap Super DIRTcar Series race at Merrittville Speedway. It was Rudolph’s fourth Super DIRTcar Series win this year. 

THOROLD, Ontario — Erick Rudolph outfoxed local Merrittville Speedway stars Ryan Susice and Gary Lindberg on Monday to pick up his fourth Super DIRTcar Series win of 2019.

Just when the capacity crowd thought it would be a duel between two of their best drivers for the $8,000 top prize, Rudolph’s No. 25R came roaring through the top of the field. Finally, Rudolph made the decisive move with five laps to go and captured the checkered flag in the Big-Block Modified race.

Rudolph started in sixth and kept the top three in his sights throughout the race. Before he battled Lindberg, Rudolph’s toughest challenge was the Billy Whittaker Fast-Time Award recipient Billy Decker in his No. 91.

From there, lapped traffic was the key to Rudolph tracking down leader Gary Lindberg and second-place Ryan Susice. Those two drivers had the right strategy for the track, but Rudolph would not be denied. He started entering turn 3 high and then rounding off the turn and running downhill through turn 4. This allowed him to run down the leaders when they encountered traffic on the straightaways.

“I was a little bit better in lapped traffic and about the same speed one-on-one,” Rudolph said. “It seemed like (Lindberg) needed to be in his specific lane. The local 358 Modifieds here are the best in the Northeast. It was tough out there. I don’t think I would have gotten him if it wasn’t for lapped traffic. Nevertheless, here we are in victory lane. The car was performing up to expectations.”

The No. 25R team has been on a hot streak as of late. For Rudolph, it comes down to the decisions they’ve been making as a team.

“We’ve been making the right decisions. We show up at the track with the same car and we’ve just got to make the right decisions and wise choices. Hopefully, we can keep being smart,” Rudolph said. “I’d like to thank all my fans, sponsors, and my crew here beside me. They’ve got my back no matter what and it’s nice knowing that. I’d like to thank the track for putting this race on.”

Next up on the Super DIRTcar Series schedule were Tuesday’s race at Ransomville Speedway, and Thursday’s Battle of the Midway event 100 at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown.

After leading a vast majority of the laps in Monday’s race, Lindberg settled for second place.

“We had a good car for sure. Then I saw Erick on that restart and I knew he was going to be fast. But then I didn’t see him after a few laps, so I thought we were good,” Lindberg said. “But then I came upon those lapped cars and they were racing side-by-side and probably not watching the flagman either so I couldn’t get them.”

Last year’s Merrittville Speedway Super DIRTcar Series winner Susice finished third.

“We were just a little off from where we needed to be,” Susice said. “We were better on the long run and we had a caution right at the end. Congrats to Erick. He’s on fire. Gary had a heck of a run. I think it really speaks volumes about what we’ve got here in terms of competition to have two local guys up in the front.”

Mike Mahaney has been experiencing engine trouble as of late with his Big-Block cars. Mahaney won the feature at on Friday at Albany-Saratoga Speedway but the engine showed signs of trouble on the last lap. Unfortunately for Mahaney, he was then forced to put a 358 Modified motor in the No. 35. That means he only receives half the points he earned per Super DIRTcar Series rules.

Feature finish

Merrittville Speedway (100 laps): 1. Erick Rudolph (25), 2. Gary Lindberg (28), 3. Ryan Susice (38RS), 4. Billy Decker (91), 5. Mat Williamson (6M), 6. Pete Bicknell (42P), 7. Mike Bowman (71), 8. Peter Britten (21A), 9. Chad Brachmann (3B), 10. Tyler Willard (37S), 11. Larry Wight (99L), 12. Dave Marcuccilli (M1), 13. Danny Johnson (21J), 14. Matt Sheppard (9s), 15. Ryan Godown (26), 16. Mike Mahaney (35), 17. Matt Farnham (7F), 18. Fred Carleton (96), 19. Demetrios Drellos (111), 20. Jimmy Phelps (98H), 21. Tom Neale (2X), 22. Dalton Slack (3RS), 23. Mark D’Ilario (8), 24. Jack Lehner (2L), 25. Rusty Smith (R2), 26. Marcus Dinkins (17), 27. Rob Knapp (2K), 28. Paul St. Sauveur (37).

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