TRENTON, N.J. — Erick Rudolph has been virtually unbeatable lately when it comes to indoor auto racing. In fact, Rudolph has been nearly unbeatable for the entire 2016 racing season — having visited victory lane various times in the dirt modifieds this year.
Saturday night, Rudolph captured his second straight “Battle of Trenton” victory in the Len Sammons Motorsports Productions (LSMP) 40 lap feature event inside the Sun National Bank Center. The defending series champion passed Jimmy “Showtime” Blewett on lap six and never looked back, dominating the final stages of the event.
“We just have this track figured out,” Rudolph said. “We made some last minute adjustments right before the feature and it paid off for us. I’m just really happy with everything. The crew worked hard.”
After five TQ Midget qualifying races helped set the field for the race, eight drivers competed in a TQ Midget “dash,” to help set the top eight starting spots for the 40 lapper. The winner of the event was Blewett, giving him the pole position over Zane Zeiner and Rudolph.
The third place starting spot helped Rudolph start in front of all the carnage behind him, and that was key to his success. In the first 10 laps, a handful of caution flags slowed the event, including one on lap two that collected seven cars at the exit of turn four — dropping a few drivers from competition with heavy damage.
At lap six, Rudolph used a move to the inside of Blewett to take the lead and he brought Ted Christopher along with him into second position. However, Christopher’s night would end during a caution later in the race when the motor engulfed in flames.
The first of two red flags in the feature was when Joey Payne went flipping in turn one and hit the jersey barrier hard, flipping through the corner. Officials arrived at the scene quickly — and luckily, Payne was able to escape the wreckage and walk away under his own power. The second red light came when Christopher’s motor went up in flames.
In the final half of the race, Rudolph gapped Blewett, who was challenged and passed by Ryan Flores. From there, Flores attempted to chase down the back bumper of the No. 22 and with a few laps remaining, it appeared as if he was making some headway. Some lapped cars got into Rudolph’s way and coming to the white flag, Flores had closed to within just a few car lengths.
But, it was all for not. A bump to the back of Rudolph’s car coming to the checkered flag would be as close to glory Flores would get, finishing second. Blewett hung on for third spot, with Zeiner and Scott Kreutter rounding out the top five. Andy Jankowiak, Chris De Ritis, Tim Buckwalter, Brandon Azzalina and Richie Pratt Jr. completed the top 10 finishing spots.
The LSMP Indoor Auto Racing Series presented by VP Race Fuels will continue at Allentown, Pa.’s PPL Center on New Year’s Eve weekend. Friday night Dec. 30, racing begins at 7 p.m. with the second A-main feature for the TQ Midgets in the series. Saturday, a special start time of 4 p.m. will allow fans to see the third A-main in the series before celebrating the holiday.
The series will conclude at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. on Jan. 27-28.
Battle Of Trenton TQ Midget Feature Results (40 Laps):
1. Erick Rudolph, 2. Ryan Flores, 3. Jimmy Blewett, 4. Zane Zeiner, 5. Scott Kreutter, 6. Andy Jankowiak, 7. Chris de Ritis, 8. Tim Buckwalter, 9. Brandon Azzalina, 10. Richie Pratt, Jr., 11. Mike Iles, 12. Josh Dalrymple, 13. Ted Christopher, 14. Anthony Sesely, 15. Matt Janisch, 16. Shawn Nye, 17. Joey Payne, 18. Jason Rochelle, 19. Matt Roselli, 20. Jonathan Reid, 21. Tommy Catalano, 22. Ryan Tidman, 23. Rob Neely, 24. Aaron Bartelemy.
About the Writer
Kyle Souza is an aspiring Journalism major at the Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. Souza is Race Chaser Online’s New England motorsports insider, covering everything from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to the NASCAR Whelen All American Series and the PASS North Super Late Models.
When not writing, Souza works at the Seekonk Speedway as the track’s Friday night public address announcer. Souza also writes press releases for the Granite State Pro Stock Series. Souza also works for Area Auto Racing News, based in Trenton, N.J.
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