Erick Rudolph Takes Modified Feature Event Glory Saturday At Land Of Legends Raceway
Story By: TOM SKIBINSKI / LAND OF LEGENDS RACEWAY – CANANDAIGUA, NY – The 70th Anniversary season at Land Of Legends Raceway rolled on in truly ‘Saturday Spectacular’ fashion with a pair of first-time winners book-ending four veteran driver runs in the May 13 show presented by A-Verdi Storage Containers.
Now contesting in his third season chasing CRSA 305 Sprint points, Jordan Hutton’s fourth career series triumph was his biggest yet as the Hannibal NY hotshoe finally reached victory lane at the hallowed half-miler on the Ontario Co. Fairgrounds. The Maguire Ford of Canandaigua New Legends Sportsman nightcap proved even more memorable as it marked the first checkered flag anywhere for fellow teen Kennedy Payne from Hopewell boasting fresh sponsorship support.
Not to be outdone, third-generation chauffeur Erick Rudolph doubled up over the weekend in the Pepsi Big-Block Modified main while track veteran Kevin Ridley rallied for the thrilling Stirling Lubricants Sportsman feature win. Past LOLR point champions Jimmy Grant (Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock) and Marc Minutolo (Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock) closed out the card while Girl Scout Group 40030 also took a bow as recipient of the weekly 50/50 benefit fund.
Fresh off a feature win Friday night at Lernerville (Pa.) Speedway, Rudolph matched his Modified success with a decisive victory Saturday in the 30-lap Big-Block headliner over veteran Tim Fuller.
“(Fuller) was good tonight. Was searching around a little bit, found something in turns one and two and was able to reel him in and make the pass through three and four. Car was really good, couldn’t do much better than this,” downplayed Rudolph, 31, who now ranks just two behind his father on Canandaigua’s all-time division win list. Charlie Rudolph scored 17 victories from 1983-88 and will be added to the Land Of Legends Wall of Fame during a special pre-race ceremony Saturday, May 20.
This night was all about the youngest ridge runner from Ransomville, however, as LOLR promoter Paul Cole’s first points champ in 2018 authored his own charge through the 24-car field to notch his first win of the new season.
Rain-out of another event already penciled in on the team agenda sent Rudolph Racing packing, although the late arrival in wine country had little affect on the ultimate outcome. Despite winning the third qualifying heat and drawing eighth to start the 15-mile Modified main, the potent blue and white #25 NMCC-Stirling Lubricants-Highmark-Big Woods Tobacco/Bicknell entry powered by grandfather Jim Rudolph’s engine was still up to the task.
Three yellow flags flew during the opening five circuits giving Rudolph ample opportunity to measure the opposition and methodically work his way to the front. He bolted from fourth to second on a lap five restart, then inched closer to Fuller at the halfway point with young Alex Payne, two-time track champ Justin Haers and season-opening winner Peter Britten battling for position further back.
Lap 18 proved pivotal as Rudolph ducked under Fuller rounding turn four to grab a lead he would not relinquish. Early season points leader Britten took fourth from Haers on lap 22 yet could advance no further, with Rudolph opening up a dozen car-length margin under Chief Starter Scott Hixson’s checkered flag.
“A little difficult to see out there, got a little dusty but we got it done,” added Rudolph, who vaulted to second in points. “Seemed like all the lapped cars were on the bottom and I was able to roll the middle pretty good. You gotta figure every time you pass a lapped car the guy behind you has to pass one too.”
Passing was at a premium in the 25-lap Sportsman feature and Ridley’s late-race romp to the front came just in time to seal victory for the native Waterloo wheelman.
“He made me earn it for sure,” stated Ridley, 45, after blasting by race-long leader Matt Guererri with four laps to go and winning by a comfortable 10 car-lengths at the stripe. Two-time LOLR points champ Guererri still tops the current standings after a second straight runner-up tally to start the ’23 season.
“That had to be fun to watch, had a ball behind the wheel. Haven’t had that much fun racing in a long time, so glad I was able to come up and do that,” said Ridley, who filled in sixth on the 22-car grid before patiently carving his way forward.
Like the Modifieds with the top-3 heat qualifiers re-drawing for feature race starting positions, Guererri selected outside front row and drove past pole-sitter Karl Comfort on the opening circuit. Ridley ran solidly in third during the early stages before taking the runner-up spot from Kasey Coffey at the halfway mark.
A turn two rollover by Greenley George forced out a precautionary red flag on lap 14 which prompted a dramatic three-car clash back under green; Ridley riding high, Comfort clinging low and Guererri getting grip in the middle groove with traffic remaining a factor.
Ridley throttled high out of turn four on consecutive laps alongside Guererri yet each time the leader slammed the door in response. A sudden switch to the inside lane rounding turn two on lap 22 provided the needed opening for the #20X Fred’s Fab’N Fold-ImageX Graphics/Bicknell entry and Ridley was on the way to his second win in the last three fairgrounds starts. Comfort, Coffey and Nick Root completed the final front-five finishing order.
“Was hoping I could get in his head a little bit thinking the bottom was better, try to keep him off the top down in three and four,” revealed Ridley, a two-time LOLR points champion and now 32-time feature winner, who today serves as a crew chief for motorsports megastar Tony Stewart in his Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) and makes his home in North Carolina. “I had the advantage of not being the leader the entire time. I had to move around the cars to get by them, he just didn’t know where to go.”
“There was bite up top and I could go pretty much wherever I wanted so if I can go run up top wide-open I’m gonna do it. There was a lot of grip in turns three and four top and bottom. A little tricky through the hole in one and two but I just drove right through it and that’s how I got alongside him to make the move,” added Ridley, with only LOLR Wall of Famer Paul Guererri ahead of him on Canandaigua’s all-time Sportsman win chart.
For the second straight week, full-fender heavyweights Grant and Mike Welch traded paint in the 20-lap Street Stock shootout and the Penn Yan pilot managed to mirror his season-opening success with another powerful performance. Back-to-back wins also provided Grant with a $250 bonus from Speed Connection to go along with the $500 first-place cash prize.
“The car was phenomenal, I know (Welch) was really good and he’s been really good on the bottom,” stated Grant, now with 14 stock car wins scored in Canandaigua. “He drove in there, shoved it in the bottom, I didn’t lift and he didn’t lift. That’s racing, I’m sure he feels the same way.”
Pole-winner Grant diced with front row partner Rick Crego as Welch shadowed early ahead of C.J. Guererri and Carl Johnson. Axsel Jensen and Patrick Hobbs tangled between turns one and two to incur the lone caution period on lap eight with Welch overtaking Grant for the top spot on the restart.
Grant never flinched, riding Welch up to the turn four wall the following lap to regain the lead and never looking back en route to a convincing straightaway win. Welch and Johnson engaged in a bumper-to-bumper battle the last half of the race, swapping the runner-up position twice before Welch settled the score in second on the final scoresheet.
Crego ended his night parked low at the turn four uke tire on the last lap allowing Nick Dandino and Carl Cleveland to improve one place in the final rundown.
“Knew (Welch) was going to drive in there hard, he cleared off the left front of my car but that down there was just good hard racing,” figured Grant, in search of a second track crown in three years behind the wheel of his black Fratto Curbing-Washburn Excavating Chevrolet Camaro.
In the quest for a fourth points championship at LOLR, Minutolo improved one position from the week prior after registering career stock car win number 64 in Canandaigua in a tight duel with defending season champion Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell.
“A heavy hole down in turns one and two but the track was very raceable,” assessed Minutolo, 31, who now owns a division-best 55 Hobby victories. “Just had to strategize how you’re going to enter the corner. I was kinda of using the smaller hole to turn me off the corner. Kind of worked to my advantage a little bit and we were able to stay ahead of Bubba which is always nice. I like the rivalry with him but wasn’t sure what was going to happen when we were beside each other there.”
Burnell sped out front early in the 15-lap Hobby Stock finale yet a red flag unfurled just as fast when rookie Brighton Grant broke on the opening circuit and once parked high in turn two was slammed by Kevin Schrader with Dan korpanty joining the fray. Runner-up Daniel Kerrick forced out caution on the next lap after stopping on the back chute before making a quick stop pitside.
Minutolo stormed into the lead on the lap three restart and with five down the top trio of Minutolo, Burnell and Nate Peckham, who was rebounding from an afternoon race (finished 8th) on asphalt out west at Lancaster Motorplex, separated themselves from the pack. Two more yellow flags were all that could slow Minutolo as he shrugged off every challenge by Burnell in his black #25B Honeoye Auto Parts-Real Estate By Jenn-Tradition Automotive-NG Promotions Chevrolet Monte Carlo to take victory by six car-lengths. Peckham, Kerrick and Tyler Burnell rounded out the top-5.
“At first I was driving over my head, then kind of settled in and rolled the bottom a little bit,” added Minutolo, also a nine-time Street Stock winner, who notched his first Hobby title in 2007 and repeated in 2011 and ’13. “Figured it out and we were really good. After I calmed down a little bit and realized I shouldn’t just hot dog it around the top we were a lot better.”
Not the closest race of the night yet the best post-race performance was certainly saved for last after 16 year-old Payne led all but the opening circuit to clinch her first career win in the 12-lap Legends Sportsman final.
“I don’t even know what to say, I’ve been waiting for this (win) so long,” beamed Payne in victory lane after her emotional interview was preempted by the most triumphant dance of the young season on the roof of her recently re-skinned #31K SVN Realty Performance-Deck Tech-Speed Connection/Troyer mount. Ironically, Payne accepted the ‘Best Appearing Car’ award at last season’s LOLR banquet before banging it up in last week’s lid-lifter. “I beat myself up every night for this for a long time.”
“Just knew that I had to stay consistent because someone could’ve been behind me and could’ve got under me. Stay consistent was what I needed to do and I did what I had to do.”
Payne slipped under Bruce Batzel exiting turn two on lap two and never looked back on her way to the coveted Canandaigua checkers. Looking to repeat last week’s season-opening victory, Angel Sperring suffered a broken rear-end on the last lap to turn over runner-up laurels to Batzel while Brad Sawyer was scored fourth with just a single lap complete.
“Just needed this for confidence,” added Payne, who joined older brother Alex and father Eldon Jr. as open-wheel feature winners on the legendary Canandaigua half-miler. “Can’t thank SVN Realty enough for having faith in me and Bob from the company always being there to help as well as Tony from Troyer Machine who helped me get this body on it with a new door. And of course my dad with Speed Connection, everything on this car is a piece of him.”
With a great crowd filling the new frontstretch aluminum grandstands, the 17th appearance of the CRSA tour on the fairgrounds in its 18th season of competition did not disappoint as Hutton dusted the field in round one of the DisBatch Brewing Company Challenge Series for MighTea Boba 305 Sprint Cars.
“Means so much, been wanting (win) here since I started racing,” remarked Hutton, 18, who was named ‘Newcomer of the Year’ for CRSA and LOLR Rookie of the Year in 2021. “Been racing here since my rookie year and struggled here in the past. Eleventh to first is huge on opening (tour) night, but definitely have to check out that right-rear (tire) because it was vibrating pretty bad.”
A stellar field of 25 winged machines began the 20-lap A-Main with rookie Dillon Paddock failing to fire for the initial green flag while Scott Landers suffered a wild frontstretch flip to end his night early. Opening lap contact exiting turn four between the Kirkwood traveler and Ronnie Greek in the third qualifying race resulted in Landers winged machine flying high multiple times past the starter’s stand to force out a red flag. No injuries were reported yet Landers was done for the night although Greek placed 15th in the finale.
Come feature time 11th starting Hutton was humming aboard his black #66 Tom’s Auto-Big Awesome BBQ-JB Farms & Logging Eagle, securing 4th-place with five laps scored and only Pierce, Frenchman Tomy Moreau and Thomas Radivoy remaining in his way. Installing a used powerplant purchased in Pennsylvania, local Ethan Gray suddenly slowed out of turn four in front of the leaders and the ensuing yellow flag tightened the pack with Hutton taking full advantage.
In a bold three-wide maneuver exiting turn two on the lap 10 restart, Hutton threaded his way past both Radivoy then Pierce to forge the lone lead change with the second half of the 10-mile main still to go. Despite Tori Kaplin looping in turn two to require the only other slowdown, Hutton never backed down as he pulled away for a commanding 20 car-length victory worth $1,000 and a spot atop the CRSA point standings.
Reigning series points king Dalton Herrick charged from eighth to settle into second-place ahead of Radivoy, last week’s LOLR winner Bobby Parrow and Pierce.
“Ran the bottom in (turns) one and two, not a lot of guys were going down there,” noted Hutton, who chalked up two tour wins last season to finish just 22 markers behind Herrick in the final standings. “Did something I probably shouldn’t have been doing, running in the rut there, but it worked and I’m here.”
Round two of the LOLR DisBatch Brewing Company mini-series for Averdi CRSA title contenders is slated for July 3 with the third leg on tap Aug. 5.
High-speed action in the month of May continues with Sherwin Williams Paint and iFreeze Storage & Distribution Center headlining another ‘Saturday Spectacular’ at the Ontario Co. Fairgrounds oval. A star-studded line-up of Pepsi Big-Block Modified, Stirling Lubricants Sportsman, MighTea Boba 305 Sprint, Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock and Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock fills the May 20 card with Farmington Cemetery Foundation the beneficiary while LOLR Wall of Fame Inductee Night #1 leads off the show. Pit gates open at 3:30pm, spectators can enter at 5 o’clock and hot laps start at 5:30 followed by the first qualifier at 6:30pm.
WALL OF FAME WELCOME
The newest addition to the Land Of Legends Wall of Fame will be made this coming Saturday as Chargin’ Charlie Rudolph is the first inductee in Canandaigua’s Class of 2023. Rudolph joins 2018 LOLR WoF charter members Donald ‘Dutch’ Hoag, ‘Barefoot’ Bob McCreadie, DIRT Motorsports founder Glenn Donnelly and still active ace Alan Johnson, Class of ’19 inductees Steve Pesarek, Milt Johnson, Gary Montgomery and Gary & Donna Spaid, ’21 honorees Steve Paine, Paul Guererri, Mike Welch and Fred Taney, along with last year’s recipients Danny Johnson, Gary Tomkins, Tom & Kim Ewing and Brad Ovens in Saturday’s timely tribute staged behind the main grandstands following practice sessions.
Land of Legends Raceway Quick Results – May 13, 2023
70th Anniversary Season Celebration
A-Verdi Storage Containers presents Saturday Spectacular
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (30 laps): 1. 25-Erick Rudolph ($2,000), 2. 19-Tim Fuller, 3. 70a-Alex Payne, 4. 21a-Peter Britten, 5. 3-Justin Haers, 6. 34-Kevin Root, 7. 27j-Danny Johnson, 8. 14j-Alan Johnson, 9. 42p-Pat Ward, 10. 39-Kyle Coffey, 11. 29-Matt Caprara, 12. 27z-Dylan Zacharias, 13. 19w-Justin Wright, 14. 7-Troy Sperring, 15. 27jr-Daniel Johnson Jr., 16. 11n-Ricky Newton, 17. 132-Dalton Martin, 18. 63-Adam Roberts, 19. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 20. 7z-Zach Payne, 21. 11j-James Sweeting, 22. 17-Marcus Dinkins, 23. 88-Dave Allen, 24. 29ny-Greg Birosh.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Britten, A.Johnson, Root, Coffey, Wright, Ward, Newton, Roberts.
#2: Haers, Fuller, Caprara, Martin, Allen, Birosh, D.Johnson Jr, Dinkins.
#3: Rudolph, A.Payne, Zacharias, D.Johnson, Z.Payne, Sweeting, Sperring, Tegg.
Stirling Lubricants Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 20x-Kevin Ridley ($750), 2. 12g-Matt Guererri, 3. 10-Karl Comfort, 4. 32c-Kasey Coffey, 5. 30-Nick Root, 6. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 7. 31-Kane Bristol, 8. 35-Nick Cooper, 9. 38-Zach Sobotka, 10. 18h-Justin Henderson, 11. 58-A.J. Lloyd , 12. 7-Paul Guererri, 13. 7j-JT Sperring, 14. 25n-Evan Nugent, 15. 34-Behr Grover, 16. 21j-Justin Liecht, 17. 20k-Eric Giguere, 18. 26-Greenley George, 19. 2k-Anthony Kimble, 20. 28-Mark Potter, 21. 9-Tim Baker, 22. 51-Tim Lafler.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Sobotka, Ridley, Comfort, Grover, Lloyd, Sperring, Nugent, Potter.
#2: Root, Bristol, P.Guererri, Cooper, Baker, Henderson, Liechti.
#3: M.Guererri, F.Guererri, Coffey, Kimble, Lafler, Giguere, George.
Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 36-Jimmy Grant ($500), 2. 00-Mike Welch, 3. 87-Carl Johnson, 4. 57j-Nick Dandino, 5. 22-Carl Cleveland, 6. 5c-Rick Crego, 7. 12-John Burritt, 8. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 9. cj1-CJ Guererri, 10. 3-Patrick Hobbs, 11. 9-Aksel Jensen, 12. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 63-Mike Fellows(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Guererri, Cleveland, Johnson, Jensen, Metcalf, Burritt, Fellows.
#2: Grant, Crego, Welch, Minutolo, Dandino, Hobbs.
Lloyd’s Contracting Hobby Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 2. 57b-Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr., 3. 90-Nathan Peckham, 4. 61-Daniel Kerrick, 5. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 6. 88-Justin Jacoby, 7. 718-Phil Barone, 8. 55b-Blane Smith, 9. 25j-Justin Eldredge, 10. 22-Craig Dingy, 11. 36x-Brighton Grant , 12. 11-Dan Korpanty, 13. 97-Kevin Schrader.
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Minutolo, Smith, Kerrick, Peckham, Grant, Jacoby, Schrader.
#2: T.Burnell, F.Burnell, Eldredge, Dingy, Barone, Korpanty.
Maguire Ford of Canandaigua New Legends Sportsman
*Feature (12 laps): 1. 31k-Kennedy Payne, 2. 57j-Bruce Batzel, 3. 56a-Angel Sperring, 4. 87s-Brad Sawyer, 5. 20k-Kyle Ridley(DNS).
Heat (6 laps)
#1: Sperring, Payne, Sawyer, Batzel, Ridley(DNS).
NEXT EVENT: Saturday Spectacular, May 20 @ 6:30pm; Sherwin Williams Paint / iFreeze Storage & Distribution Center present Big-Block Modified/Sportsman/305 Sprint/Street Stock/Hobby Stock with Farmington Cemetery Foundation Benefit and Legends Inductee Night #1: Charlie Rudolph.