Rudolph Rallies To Collect $10,000 For 2nd Gerald Haers Memorial Triumph Ridley gives Stirling Sportsman performance in return visit to Land of Legends victory lane
Shawn Green Photo
Canandaigua, NY – September 17, 2022 – Tom Skibinski, Land of Legends Raceway PR
Past track point champions Erick Rudolph and Kevin Ridley experienced the best and worst of both worlds Saturday night at Land Of Legends Raceway, with each enjoying the better half when it mattered most in the 4th Annual Gerald Haers Memorial presented by Phelps Cement Products.
Rudolph and Ridley scored convincing wins in their qualifying heat before selecting the highest number in the respective pre-race draws for feature starting positions. Yet at the end of the night Rudolph had rallied to capture his second GHM Modified title worth $10,000 while Ridley charged to the front to collect the $2,500 top prize for an unexpected victory appearance in the Stirling Lubricants GHM Sportsman Championship to close out the 2022 race season in Canandaigua.
“Like to thank my crew for getting me here, all the sponsors and the Haers family for putting on this race. Just a really good car here tonight, feels good to be back,” remarked Rudolph, 30, in his customary low-key manner after an epic battle with Larry Wight that factored in six lead changes over the final 45 laps before the score was finally settled with 10 to go. “I’ve raced quite a few years now, definitely a good battle and had a lot of fun out there. (Larry) is a great competitor, any time you can beat him you really did something.”
A trio of FLX Home Solutions heats lined up 47 racers with a handful of small-block entries helping surpass last year’s race-record total during GHM Weekend IV. While Rudolph banked $500 for his round two victory, the third-generation driver drew ninth to start the headline 100-lapper inside row five on the 26-car grid.
At the drop of chief starter Scott Hixson’s green flag, front row partners Jimmy Phelps and Peter Britten jumped out front early as expected while Wight needed only five laps around the hallowed half-miler to take over third. When the leaders hit traffic by lap 17, Rudolph remained patient as he closed in on the front-five aboard his familiar #25 NMCC-Stirling Lubricants-Highmark BC/BS WNY-reVive Spine Center/Bicknell machine.
The non-stop open-wheel action finally took a break on lap 20 when Tim Sears Jr. slowed out of turn two to incur the first caution. Rudolph crept closer on the ensuing restart, slipping past Ronnie Davis III on lap 25 while Phelps, Britten and Wight held strong just ahead a quarter of the way through.
A handful of yellow flags flew for minor mishaps by the midway mark, with Britten finally wrestling away the lead from Phelps on lap 44 while Rudolph mirrored the move to gain runner-up status the next time around. Immediately after earning the $400 ‘Halfway Leader Bonus in loving memory of Arthur & Cynthia MacMillan, Britten suddenly slowed in turn one with a flat left-rear tire the culprit to bring about the seventh caution of the race.
Britten’s misfortune meant good luck for Rudolph as he inherited the top spot, yet with half the distance still to go Wight would not go away as he edged across the stripe for his first lead on lap 55. It was race on after that as the dynamic duo pulled away from the pack despite 20th starting Justin Haers moving into third under 2020 GHM winner Chris Hile on lap 57 as Phelps faded to fifth.
Lap after lap the top-two navigated around the track searching for the fastest lane, all but trading paint as they swapped the lead leaving no clear-cut favorite until the final checkered flag waved. Rudolph nosed ahead over the line on lap 68 before lapped traffic bottled him up to relinquish the point to Wight on lap 80. Back and forth they went maneuvering through traffic —withstanding a pair of yellows on laps 83 and 84— with Rudolph inching past on lap 88 and Wight by a bumper on lap 89 before Rudolph took command for good on lap 90 to put fans back in their seats.
Wight finally ran out of room running the high line, scraping the frontstretch outside cement retaining wall on lap 94 to open the door for Haers to slide into second the next time around. Britten followed suit although his late-race effort ended in third with Wight hanging on for fourth ahead of Dendis Sand & Gravel Small-Block $300 Bonus recipient Gary Lindberg from Ridgeway, Ontario.
“Knew we had a good car right from maybe 30 laps on, was really hooked up around the bottom and went up top pretty good too,” noted Rudolph, following his second victory of the season at the historic Ontario Co. Fairgrounds oval where his father Charlie notched 17 Modified wins in the 1980s. The Ransomville ridge runner claimed the inaugural GHM in 2019, placed fourth last year, and now has 14 career Pepsi Big-Block victories at LOLR since 2014. “We went back and forth a little bit, lost the lead in lapped traffic but we were able to get a caution and regroup and put on another charge.”
“The crew sent me out here with a really good car, seemed like it was really handling on the bottom yet when I had to pass a few cars here and there I could wander around the track. Had drive and control of the car in other places all around the track. Our big-block has been going really good lately, we’re really proud about that and the small-block has been going really good too. There’s a lot of racing left (this season) and a lot to look forward to,” added Rudolph, who pocketed another $150 for his ‘Move of the Race Award’ in memory of Stu & Brad Ovens as well as the Hile Heating & Cooling Worst Number Re-Draw Bonus worth $200.
Still in quest of that elusive first GHM triumph, named in honor of his late father who passed away at age 74 on July 15, 2019, Justin settled for runner-up laurels although he earned the $300 Mark Webb Motorsports Hard Charger Award after starting 20th in the season-finale.
“Hats off to the track crew, got this place in much better condition tonight and we put on a heck of a race for the fans,” stated Haers, who finished fifth in the inaugural 2019 GHM and followed up with seventh (2020) and sixth-place (2021) tallies the last two Septembers. His second-place best on Saturday also rewarded him with the $150 Phelps Community Center Head Start Hometown Finisher Award and $300 Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Friday Fast Timer Bonus for his top speed recorded in the opening night round two practice session. “Great turnout and beautiful day here.”
“Kinda used up my stuff a little bit too much coming up through there starting so far back but overall it was really fun. The track had a little character down there and you could run a few lines. We were moving around in the beginning of the race all over on both ends and tried to save the tires. Would’ve like to see a caution at the end, would’ve been a great race with me and Erick. (Falling) one spot short kinda stinks but from where we started, began 16th (last) in the first heat, not too bad.”
“Its our hometrack, got a lot of laps around here and it paid off tonight. (Second) feels great but this is still a race we wanna win. One spot short we’ll take it, come back next year and try to win again. We’re happy and now we’ll load up and get things gathered up for Oswego (Super DIRT Week),” added Haers, the two-time reigning Big-Block points king at LOLR.
Beginning the week with only a rolling Bicknell chassis, Team Ridley dropped in a Donath Motor Worx engine block by Friday and when the Sportsman showdown came to a close on Saturday it was the transplanted Waterloo wheelman posing in the winner’s circle following his first and so far only race of the 2022 season.
“Unbelievable, brand new car, never expected this,” commented Ridley, after providing himself an early 45th birthday gift in the season-ending Sportsman race. “We worked our butts off to build it, thrashed on Friday until just before we got here. Didn’t think we were going to make it. Anything that could go wrong went wrong but we got here.”
“Won our heat, unfortunately it cancelled. But we knew we had a pretty good car. Then tonight, it was just unbelievable, I could drive anywhere,” beamed Ridley, the 2008 and ’13 Sportsman track points champion who has won at least one feature at LOLR every year since 2006 excluding last season. He placed 12th in the GHM last year after finishing seventh in 2020 and 19th in the ’19 edition.
Certainly no stranger to Canandaigua’s victory lane where he now ranks second all-time with 31 feature trophies, his first visit of ’22 came as a surprise yet the final result was anything but as the veteran showed his experience from lap one, winning the last of three Proctor Enterprises heats after time trialing quickest in his group session. He still had work to do, however, matching Rudolph’s receipt of the Hile Heating & Cooling Worst Number Re-Draw $100 Bonus to put him 12th on the 27-car starting pad before ultimately receiving post-race $100 Speed Connection Move of the Race accolades.
LOLR regular Tim Lafler out-dragged pole-sitter Emmett Waldron to kick off the 40-lap Stirling Lubricants GHM classic, easily out-distancing himself from the stacked field in the early stages. Continuous green flag racing filled every corner of the track with Lafler catching the back of the pack by lap 14.
The freshly minted 20x Fred’s Fab’N Fold-ImageX Graphics machine found the high side to Ridley’s liking, cracking the top-5 with 10 complete and improving one more spot halfway through the 20-mile main. Two-time points champion and defending race winner Matt Guererri suffered a flat right-rear tire on lap 22 to finally slow the pace after the first of just three cautions.
Waldron wasted little time showing his intentions, ducking low in turns one and two for the lead on lap 23 followed the next time around by new runner-up Ridley in his mission to the front. Bad breaks for the Guererri clan continued when older brother Nick fell off the pace on lap 26 and called it a night after contending in the top-10 and received the $100 Wayne’s Spa Service Hard Luck Award as a consolation.
The ensuing lap 27 restart proved pivotal for Ridley as he blasted by Waldron exiting turns three and four and with 10 to go sped out to a sizeable 3/4-straightaway advantage as only second-place seemed up for grabs. A final caution for the slowing mount of Sportsman Legend graduate Justin Liechti tightened the field with four laps left yet that only reduced Ridley’s margin to a comfortable 10 car-lengths as the checkered flag waved.
Tyler Murray improved one position from a year ago to finish second ahead of north country invader Gavin Eisele while recently crowned Canandaigua points champ and 2021 GHM race runner-up Zach Sobotka settled for fourth. Farmington Favorite Kane Bristol started 17th and wrapped up the $150 NG Promotions Hard Charger Award after nipping Waldron for fifth on the final lap.
“It was so tricky through the bumps there but I found a good line through there and could just almost hold (pedal) to the floor,” revealed Ridley, now residing in North Carolina working as a crew chief for motorsports megastar Tony Stewart in his Superstar Racing Experience (SRX). “The neck’s gonna be a little sore but the wallet will be a little fatter.”
Stewart founded the popular Camping World SRX Series along with NASCAR Hall of Fame crew chief and team owner Ray Evernham, Sandy Montag and George Pyne with the official announcement made in July of 2020. Doug Coby won the inaugural SRX 100-lap event at Stafford on June 12 ’21.
Some of the greatest champions in Motorsports history currently compete in the SRX Series featuring Stewart who is joined by Helio Castroneves, Bill Elliott, Tony Kanaan, Michael Waltrip, Bobby Labonte, Marco Andretti and over a dozen more. These all-stars contend at notable short tracks like Eldora Speedway, Knoxville Raceway, Lucas Oil Raceway, Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, Slinger Speedway and Stafford Speedway, with mostly bragging rights on the line.
Continuing to strengthen the timely tribute to Jerry Haers, a long-time supporter of Land of Legends as well as an honorable Vietnam War Veteran, Saturday’s 50/50 beneficiary was the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 4, with the parent organization formed over 100 years ago on Sept. 25, 1920, at its first National Caucus held in Hamilton County Memorial Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In the aftermath of World War I, disabled veterans in the United States found themselves seriously disadvantaged, with little governmental support. DAV was thus created by the Congress for disabled military veterans of all U.S. Armed Forces that helps them and their families through various means. Today, DAV has over one million members.
DAV remains a non-profit charity that provides a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations, annually helping them and their families in positive life-changing ways. The organization is also a leader in connecting veterans with meaningful employment, hosting job fairs and providing resources to ensure they have the opportunity to participate in the American Dream their sacrifices have made possible.
The final event to officially close out the 59th season takes place after the new year arrives when Club 86, 86 Avenue E in Geneva, hosts the Land Of Legends Raceway Awards Banquet. Circle Fri. Jan. 13, 2023 on the calendar as Promoter Paul Cole will hand out plenty of cash and contingency awards to ’22 point champions Justin Haers, Zach Sobotka, Darryl Ruggles, Mike Welch and Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr. as well as a number of supporting race team members. Banquet tickets will go on sale in the weeks ahead with additional information publicized as more details are confirmed for this festive occasion.
Be sure to check out the final point standings for each division as well as all the track news online by visiting www.LandOfLegendsRaceway.com. Advance sale tickets will be made available online for the 2023 race season during the upcoming months.
Land of Legends Raceway is located at the Ontario County Fairgrounds, east of the city on Town Line Road (County Road 10), with easy access off either Exit 43 (Manchester, Route 21 South) or Exit 44 (Farmington, Route 332 South) of the New York State Thruway, just ½-hour southeast of Rochester.
Land of Legends Raceway Event Summary – September 17, 2022Saturday Super SpectacularPhelps Cement Products presents “4th Annual Gerald Haers Memorial 100”Pepsi Modified
*Feature (100 laps): 1. 25-ERICK RUDOLPH ($10,000), 2. 3-Justin Haers ($3,500), 3. 21a-Peter Britten ($2,500), 4. 99L-Larry Wight ($1,750), 5. 37s-Gary Lindberg(SB) ($1,600), 6. 34-Kevin Root ($1,500), 7. 7z-Zach Payne ($1,450), 8. 39-Kyle Coffey ($1,400), 9. 42p-Pat Ward ($1,350), 10. 9x-Tyler Trump ($1,300), 11. 12-Darren Smith ($1,250), 12. 21c-Brian Calabrese ($1,200), 13. 3b-Chad Brachmann ($1,150), 14. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo ($1,100), 15. 33-Tyler Willard ($1,050), 16. 5h-Chris Hile ($1,000), 17. 98h-Jimmy Phelps ($1,000), 18. 165-Rex King Jr. ($1,000), 19. 56-Garrison Krentz ($1,000), 20. c3-Chas Wolbert ($1,000), 21. 32r-Ronnie Davis III ($1,000), 22. 60-Jackson Gill ($1,000), 23. 21x-Daniel Johnson Jr. ($1,000), 24. m1-Dave Marcuccilli ($1,000), 25. 83x-Tim Sears ($1,000), 26. 7x-Steve Paine ($1,000).
FLX Home Solutions Heats (20 laps / 6 qualify / Top-3 redraw / pos. 5&6 to cash dash)
#1: Wight($500), Trump, Wolbert, Coffey, Krentz, Brachmann, Podsiadlo, Haers, Gill, Lindberg, Rauscher, Birosh, Inman, A.Payne, Johnston, Johnson.
#2: Rudolph($500), Hile, Britten, King, Ward, Sears, Tomkins, Paine, Henry, Allen, Caprara, Tegg, Wiesner, Wright, Roberts, Sperring.
#3: Root($500), Davis, Phelps, Smith, Marcuccilli, Z.Payne, Calabrese, Willard, Dinkins, Webb, Sweeting, Wade, Lawrence, Beardsley, McCartney.
North Eastern Pool & Spa Last Chance Showdowns (10 laps / 4 qualify)
#1: Gill($250), Podsiadlo, Calabrese, Paine, Tegg, Webb, Inman, Rauscher, Johnston, McCartney, Wright, Dinkins, Sweeting, Lawrence, Sperring(DNS).
#2: Haers($250), A.Payne(DSQ), Lindberg, Willard, Johnson, Roberts, Birosh, Wade, Wiesner, Henry, Caprara, Tomkins(DNS), Allen(DNS), Beardsley(DNS).
CME Motorsports (In Memory of Carl Myers) Cash Dash (6 laps):
Ward($500), Krentz($400), Sears($300), Brachmann($200), Marcuccilli($100), Z.Payne($100).
Mark Webb Motorsports Hard Charger Award $300: Justin Haers.
Scott Jeffery’s Performance Plus Hard Luck Award $300: Daniel Johnson Jr.
Big Dog Country 103.5 Lucky Dog Award $200 (Last Car On Lead Lap): Tyler Willard.
Marine Blue Fastest Feature Lap Bonus $250: Jimmy Phelps 19.343 sec. (lap 3).
Competition Carburetors Fastest Feature Lap Bonus $100: Jimmy Phelps.
Phelps Community Center Head Start Hometown Finisher Award $150 (highest LOLR finisher): Justin Haers.
Move of the Race Award (In Memory of Stu & Brad Ovens) $150: Erick Rudolph.
Big Cat Communications Most Laps Led Bonus $150: Jimmy Phelps.
Halfway Leader Bonus (In Loving Memory of Arthur & Cynthia MacMillan) $400: Peter Britten.
Dendis Sand & Gravel Small-Block Bonus: 1. Lindberg $300, Derek Webb $100, Kyle Inman $100.
Buzz Chew Racing Rookie Of The Race Award $150: Zach Payne.
Sunrise Insulation 3rd-Place Heat Finish Bonus $300: H1-Wolbert($100), H2-Britten($100), H3-Phelps($100).
NASCAR Racing Experience Pole Award $300: Jimmy Phelps.
Buck & Ruthie’s Ice Cream Sportsmanship Award $200: Peter Britten.
R.M. Tree Service Best Appearing Car Award $200: #29 Matt Caprara.
Troy Smith Racing Stables Ageless Wonder Award $100: Pat Ward.
Real Estate By Jenn Youngest Driver Of The Race Award $100: Jackson Gill.
Hile Heating & Cooling Worst Number Re-Draw Bonus $200: Eric Rudolph.
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Friday Fast Timer Bonus $300: Justin Haers 20.527sec. (87.689mph).
ImageX Graphics Victory Lane Award Presentations.
$10,000 Lap Money.
DNQ(21): 01c-Bob Henry Jr., 1L-Jeff Lawrence, 4-Ryan McCartney, 7-Troy Sperring, 11j-James Sweeting, 18$-Sean Beardsley, 17-Marcus Dinkins, 19w-Justin Wright, 20k-Kyle Inman(SB), 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 29-Matt Caprara(SB), 29ny-Greg Birosh, 33j-Robbie Johnston, 48too-Dave Rauscher, 63-Adam Roberts, 66-Dan Wiesner, 66w-Derek Webb(SB), 70a-Alex Payne, 82-Ken Wade, 84-Gary Tomkins, 88-Dave Allen.
Stirling Lubricants Gerald Haers Memorial ChampionshipSpeed Connection Sportsman Modified
*Feature (40 laps): 1. 20x-KEVIN RIDLEY ($2,500), 2. 1m-Tyler Murray ($1,000), 3. 18e-Gavin Eisele($500), 4. 38-Zach Sobotka ($400), 5. 31-Kane Bristol ($300), 6. 4-Emmett Waldron ($250), 7. 33-Richard Murtaugh ($220), 8. 132-Dalton Martin ($200), 9. 18h-Justin Henderson ($180), 10. 7-Paul Guererri ($170), 11. 70a-Ajay Potrzebowski Jr ($160), 12. 12g-Matt Guererri ($150), 13. 21v-Eric Giguere ($150), 14. 51-Tim Lafler ($150), 15. 30-Nick Root ($150), 16. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr. ($150), 17. 1f-AJ Lloyd ($150), 18. 28-Mark Potter ($150), 19. 9-Tim Baker ($150), 20. 30g-Behr Grover ($150), 21. 57-Justin Liechti ($150), 22. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr. ($150), 23. 25g-Nick Guererri ($150), 24. 7j-JT Sperring ($150), 25. 06-Tim Guild ($150), 26. 31k-Todd Henderson ($150), 27. 39-Kasey Coffey ($150), 10-Karl Comfort(DNS), 64-Tyler Corcoran(DNS).
Proctor Enterprises Heats (12 laps / Top-4 redraw / pos. 1&2 to cash dash)
#1: M.Guererri($50), Lafler, J.Henderson, Murray, N.Guererri, Potrzebowski, Coffey, Root, Baker, Liechti.
#2: Sobotka($50), P.Guererri, Murtaugh, Eisele, Potter, Bristol, F.Guererri, Lloyd, T.Henderson, Guild.
#3: Ridley($50), Waldron, Giguere, Martin, Comfort, Sperring, Borden, Grover, Corcoran.
Bicknell Racing Products (In Memory of ‘Scooby’ Scot VonBergen / SMV Motorsports) Cash Dash (6 laps):
M.Guererri($250), Ridley($200), Sobotka($150), Lafler($100), P.Guererri($100), Waldron($100).
Group Time Trials (2 laps / 29 cars)
#1: Lafler 19.202 sec. (93.740 mph), M.Guererri 19.278, Murray 19.341, J.Henderson 19.554, Coffey 19.657, Root 19.786, N.Guererri 19.899, Potrzebowski 19.913, Baker 19.987, Liechti 22.158.
#2: Sobotka 19.553 sec. (92.057 mph), P.Guererri 19.586, Potter 19.591, Murtaugh 19.670, Bristol 19.672, Eisele 19.738, F.Guererri 19.886, T.Henderson 20.138, Lloyd 20.165, Guild 20.622.
#3: Ridley 19.404 sec. (92.764 mph), Waldron 19.405 sComfort 19.413, Giguere 19.427, Martin 19.521, Corcoran 19.674, Sperring 19.941, Borden 20.034, Grover 20.093.
NG Promotions Hard Charger Award $150: Kane Bristol.
Wayne’s Spa Service Hard Luck Award $100: Nick Guererri.
S&B Tech Sales Lucky Dog Award $100 (Last Car On Lead Lap): Behr Grover.
Bertino Hardscapes Fastest Feature Lap $100: Tim Lafler 19.948 sec. (lap 2).
Competition Carburetors Fastest Feature Lap Bonus $100: Tim Lafler.
NG Promotions Hometown Finisher Award $100 (highest LOLR finisher): Zach Sobotka.
Phelps Community Center Head Start Most Laps Led Bonus $100: Tim Lafler.
DIRTcar Racing Halfway Leader Bonus $150: Tim Lafler.
Speed Connection Move of the Race $100: Kevin Ridley.
The Young Agency Pole Award $200: Emmett Waldron.
6th-Place On Lap 16 Bonus (In Memory of Jan Corcoran) $50: Tyler Murray.
4th-Place On Lap 14 Bonus (In Memory of Jan Corcoran) $50: Dalton Martin.
S&B Tech Sales Sportsmanship Award $100: Frank Guererri Jr.
Riddle Hardscapes Best Appearing Car Award $100: #21v Eric Giguere.
Hile Heating & Cooling Worst Number Re-Draw Bonus $100: Kevin Ridley.
ImageX Graphics Victory Lane Award Presentations.
UPCOMING EVENT: Friday, January 13, 2023 – 2022 Land Of Legends Raceway Awards Banquet @ Club 86, 86 Avenue E, Geneva.