Erick Rudolph won his first DIRT.car 358 Modified season points championship at Ransomville Speedway in Niagara County last season. Now, after clinching this year's same title this past Friday, Rudolph is a repeat champion.
Rudolph has authored five feature-race victories in 358 Modified competition this year and entered the season points standings finale leading Mat Williamson by 27. Williamson charged to his third win of the season while Rudolph managed fourth place, good enough to earn his second consecutive Ransomville 358 title by 17 over Williamson.
"It's just a testament to how consistent our team was," Rudolph said. "We got our fair share of wins, but it takes consistency to win championships and that's what we did here this season. I think we finished every single race. Some races didn't go our way, but more often than not, we were right up in the hunt every single time."
Also Friday, Brett Senek used a fourth-place finish in a race won by Kyle Inman to earn the Ransomville DIRT.car Sportsman title for the second straight season. Senek beat Derek Wagner by 11 points for the championship.
Rudolph has been a frequent winner across the Northeastern U.S. the past few seasons in both 358 and big-block Modified competition. With many victories in Modified racing this year, including a career-high four wins on the Super DIRT.car Big Block Modified Series, and the Utica-Rome Speedway 2019 title, many observers feel Rudolph is having his best year.
"Eric's having a career year and I think the biggest difference in Erick the last few seasons is maturity," said Charlie Rudolph, Erick's father and crew chief, who is a former standout racer. "I also think he's gaining confidence in himself.
"I also recently retired from my day job as vice-president of Snyder Industries and that has helped him too, because as far as on a daily basis, I have more time to talk over things with him about various situations. Now I can work on the cars full time. Overall dirt is a little different than asphalt. I think it takes a few more years to really be good on dirt."
Williamson is proud of his own effort this season.
"We've been pretty good all year," he said. "We had one bad night and I think that took us out of the championship, but that's racing. I was happy to get this win tonight for the team."
Meanwhile, Senek was celebrated his repeat title.
"It's great," Senek said. "At the beginning of the year, if you told me I was going to win a second championship, I wouldn't have believed you, but the car's been great all year. I couldn't do it without all my crew guys that put tons of hours in as well as all my great sponsors. I got four wins here this year [and] my worst finish was an eighth. I plan on trying for my third Sportsman championship here next year. "
In Ransomville's Novice Sportsman class, Bubby Pawlak won the race, but Butch Zimmerman and Mike Martin tied for the title and were crowned co-champions. Zimmerman turned 67 years old Sunday. Martin is the husband of Ransomville general manager Jennifer Martin.
"All in all, I started coming on late in the year and the car's been really good the last three weeks," Martin said.
"We're co-champions and the way I look at it is if I was suppose to win it outright, it would have happened, but if not I did the best I could and that's a co-championship," Zimmerman said. "If it wasn't for Brad Patterson, my set-up guy, this wouldn't be possible. I owe it all to him."
In other Ransomville racing Friday, Pete Stefanski won the Street Stocks race and Matt Hornquist captured the Mini Stocks event. The divisional championships will be settled over the next two weeks.
Bookmiller celebrates WCIS title
Alan Bookmiller is relishing his 2019 Wyoming County International Speedway SST Modified championship clinched during the points finale run on August 24.
Bookmiller arrived at the WCIS that day trailing points leader Kevin Timmerman by 12.
When Timmerman and Daniel Majchrzak were involved in a controversial accident during the running of the SST Modified 35-lapper, it opened the door for Bookmiller. The opportunist inherited the race lead and went on to win the race, capturing the title by 28 over Timmerman. It was Bookmiller's first WCIS win of 2019.
Bookmiller's title is a feel good story about a racer with limited resources who frequently shows up at SST Modified and Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series events at various local race tracks due to his love of the sport.
Success often has been hard to find for Bookmiller. He finally was rewarded for his persistence and devotion.
"You got to be there at the end," Bookmiller said. "You got to finish the race to win it, obviously. I got lucky when misfortune hit Kevin Timmerman and it was not exactly how you want to win the championship. You want to win it racing for it, but at the same time, you've got to run the whole season up front and have consistent finishes so that you can be there and in contention when something happens. It's about opportunity built over a whole season, not a one race win deal.
"It's quite an accomplishment to be champion. We have a very small team. My dad is my only crew member along with me and I get support from other family members. We don't have a huge sponsor. We have my grandmother as a sponsor. The Barber family helps, too."
The Bookmiller family makes sacrifices to be able to field their race cars.
"We don't go on family vacations and we don't buy the nice brand new family street vehicles," Bookmiller said. "We do everything we can do to go racing and you have to have the passion, so you sacrifice weekdays, weekends, everything just to race cars. It's a lot of hard work, too."
Dave Krawczyk parlayed six WCIS triumphs in 2019 into his fourth career WCIS Super Stock title. He also won the championship in 2015-2017. He was not eligible to race at WCIS in 2018.
"I had a pretty good season," Krawczyk said. "We didn't have any real mechanical problems and no major wrecks. I had a quite nice uneventful season, which is a nice way to have it sometimes. With no problems, we were able to just focusing on making adjustments to the car. When you're coming back from a wreck every week or you have mechanical problems that you're always chasing, then it's hard to advance the car."
Other drivers crowned WCIS 2019 champions are: Robert Cassidy, 6-Cylinders ; Jason Anasiewicz, 4-Cylinder Pro; Jonathan Klamut, 4-Cylinder Stock.
WCIS concludes its special-event season with the Shootout at the Bullring on Oct. 4-5.