Erick Rudolph of Ransomville and the DeLange Racing team ventured south last weekend to compete in the 5th Annual John Blewett III Memorial North-South Shootout at Concord Motorsport Park in Concord , North Carolina. In his second visit to “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile Tri-Oval” and his first in a Modified, the talented teenager matched up well against the best teams and drivers in the Modified division. His performance in the #45 Original Pizza Logs Modified was noteworthy to say the least.

In Friday practice Rudolph was among the fastest drivers on the track. He backed that up in time trials for the Shootout later that day, turning the fourth fastest lap among the 46 Modifieds that attempted to qualify and bypass running the qualifying heat races. The top-five transferred directly into the Shootout, so that placed Rudolph in the fourth position on the starting grid for Saturday night’s 100-lap feature.

After all the support races were completed on Saturday, it was time for the main event under the lights. The green flag waved and 33 of the best Modified drivers went to war. Rudolph quickly fell into second place behind race leader Matt Hirschman. He held his ground in the top-three until pitting just past lap 30. A lengthy pit stop dropped him back to the 22nd position. Undaunted by the setback, Rudolph went to work and began to climb back into contention. At the checkered flag he crossed the finish line in sixth, behind such notables as NASCAR Modified Tour standouts Matt Hirschman, Eric Beers, Bobby Santos and 2007 champion Donny Lia as well as 2007 ASA Southern Modified Tour champion Burt Myers. It was an impressive performance by a young racer who drove in his first Modified race less than six months ago.

“We had a good weekend here at Concord ,” Rudolph later explained. “We were fast right from the start of practice and then loosened the car up for time trials. We were fourth fastest and I was pretty surprised and happy because that meant we didn’t have to run a heat race, where anything can happen. In the feature we started out strong and ran up front until we pitted. We had some problems on our stop and lost a lot of positions, but we were able to race our way back to the front. I think we had more left but we ran out of time.

“I’m very happy what we were able to accomplish at Concord against top competition. I’m looking forward to racing against these teams and drivers more in the future.”

Team owner Dave DeLange was ecstatic with his team’s performance. “I’ve watched Erick grow as a driver and I’ve always been impressed with his talent, his attitude and his performance. To do what he did at Concord against that level of competition is outstanding. I think everyone saw what we’ve known all along – Erick is a racer with a bright future. We’re hoping to give him more opportunities to race against the top drivers and teams in 2008. We are already starting to put together our schedule for next season and we are looking at adding some NASCAR Modified Tour events. I have no doubt he can be successful against that level of competition.”

The North-South Shootout closes out the 2007 season for DeLange Racing. We are currently looking at several options for next season and please look for announcements on our 2008 plans in the next few weeks.

Bruce Boucher/DeLange Racing