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Rudolph set to join father as Ransomville Modified champ

As long as Erick Rudolph is able to take the green flag this Friday at Ransomville Speedway in the 358 Modified feature race he will clinch his first career 358 Modified season championship at the Niagara County dirt oval.

If and when that moment arrives, he will realize an accomplishment he says he has craved for many years, joining the man he idolizes, his father Charlie Rudolph, as a Ransomville Modified track champion.

Rudolph has a 60-point cushion, (718-658) over Pete Bicknell. With 60 points awarded to a Ransomville race winner, if Bicknell is able to win Friday, all that Rudolph has to do is start the race to mathematically clinch the crown.

If Bicknell wins and Rudolph cannot start the feature race, the pair would finish the season tied in points and be declared co-champions as Ransomville does not evoke any tie-breaker procedures.

Rudolph failing to start the feature race is a highly improbable scenario.

While Erick has won other racing championships in his young racing career, this would be his first Ransomville title.

Charlie Rudolph, who is retired as a driver, had a stellar career in both dirt and asphalt competition that included a pair of Modified championships at Ransomville in 1982 and 1986. He also captured asphalt Lancaster Speedway Modified titles in 1991 and 1993. Charlie also earned the overall Mr. DIRT Super DIRT Series Modified crown in 1986.

The Rudolph racing heritage goes even deeper in the Ransomville championship history pages with Erick's grandfather and Charlie's father, Jim Rudolph earning consecutive Hobby Stock championships at Ransomville in 1963 and 1964.

"Since I started racing Modifieds here at Ransomville, it's been a goal of mine forever to get a Ransomville Modified championship so to finally do it will be awesome," Erick said. "It's been awhile now that I've raced Modifieds at Ransomville and I've been close a bunch of times to a championship and if we can finally get it by taking the green flag Friday that would be just super."

Erick spoke about his dad and all that he has meant to his own career.

"It would absolutely great to join my dad as a Modified champion at Ransomville," Erick said. "My dad is my idol. He's also one of my best friends, if not my best friend. So to achieve something that he also did in the past would be awesome. My dad is the brains of our racing operation. I got some good ideas but obviously he's the one that's the true mastermind here."

In dramatic fashion Erick clinched the 2018 Modified points title last Saturday at Land of Legends Raceway (formerly Canandaigua Speedway), besting Matt Sheppard for the points crown there by a single marker.

Bicknell, who turns 64 this coming January, is a 13-time Modified season championship at Ransomville with the first of those coming in 1980 and the most recent in 2013. He has stood the test of time and has seemingly been in the thick of a Ransomville title chase for most years of the last four decades.

Bicknell has four wins at Ransomville this season which is amazing considering his age and the fact that his career nearly ended about four years ago due to back pain and subsequent back surgery.

"We've been doing good here this year with the four wins and things have been going our way," Bicknell said. "We're fighting for that point lead but we probably won't get it. Erick's too good. Every year here we're battling right to the very end with someone.

"My back problems will always be there. It's never going to go away. It's just something I've got to live with. I've learned to live with it and just keep on carrying on. I love racing more than I do sitting around in pain. As long as my guys keep helping me and I've got a good bunch of guys, I'll be back next year."

Ryan Susice's three year consecutive 358 Modified championship reign at Ransomville  (2015, 2016, 2017) will come to an end but Susice who is currently third in points did not go down without a strong fight this season.

"We wanted to go for it this year and we had a good shot," Susice said. "There's no give up in my team and that's what I love about my team. We put our heart and soul into this and it wasn't for a lack of trying that we couldn't extend our championship streak. That's for sure. It was fun while it lasted."

Ransomville will also decide their Sportsman title chase Friday where Brett Senek leads Chris Burek by 14 points.


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