Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – SYRACUSE, NY – Consistency was the name of the game for Erick Rudolph in 2019 as he was able to capture the DIRTcar 358-Modified Series Championship.
Two victories coming at Utica-Rome and Plattsburgh Airborne Speedway in back-to-back events along with 11 top 5 finishes and never finishing outside of the top 10 in any series race allowed the Ransomville, NY driver to prove just how important consistency and speed really were.
When all was said and done, Rudolph captured his third series crown by 226 markers over Mike Mahaney.
“I can’t believe just how blessed I am to have the opportunity to do what I do,” Rudolph said. “I’m extremely thankful to have the chances I have and I hope we can keep doing this in the future.”
Rudolph started the series off with two consecutive second place finishes at Can-Am and Fulton before finishing fourth at Cornwall in the third event. Those strong runs gave him the foundation that showed everyone on tour that he was going to be one to beat for the title.
In the final seven events of the season, Erick finished in the top 5 five times, including three more second-place efforts. One of those coming in the Salute the Troops 150 at Super DIRT Week to the #91 of Billy Decker.
The final race of the series was the Fall Nationals at Brockville Ontario Speedway and he finished fifth in that race to secure the title.
“I really have to thank my car owners, all of my sponsors and my entire crew,” he said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to stand on stage as the champion.”
While his consistency helped him capture the Small Block crown, he lacked just a little bit of it on the Big Block Series in 2019.
After finishing runner-up to Matt Sheppard in points last season, Rudolph returned in 2019 and rattled off four wins, 11 top 5’s and 15 top 10’s while bringing home a fifth place finish in points.
“We started our year off a little slow,” Rudolph said. “Then, come mid-summer, we were really good and then we finished the year out just okay.”
Through the off-season, Rudolph and his team will go to work to try and regain that consistency that had them on the cusp of the series title one year ago.
“Hopefully this winter we can find a little bit of speed and start full force come February in Florida,” he said. “Everyone’s trying to do the same thing, year in and year out. Sometimes you’re on and sometimes you’re not. Everyone’s trying their best, just like we are.”
In 2019, Rudolph doubled his win count and proved he was a car to be reckoned with at each event. Come next year, he’s hoping he can put it all together to take home his first Big Block Series Championship.
“Last year we had two wins,” he said. “This year we were winning more. Next season, hopefully we can win and also be consistent and then we’ve really got something.”
Rudolph also picked up the Big Block Super DIRTcar Series Hard Charger award for 2019, proving he was able to get to the front of the field.