There has been no shortage of busy days for Whelen Modified Tour veteran Patrick Emerling during the 2022 season.
Along with maintaining an active presence in the series that developed him as a driver, Emerling elected to broaden his horizons in NASCAR this year by starting an Xfinity Series team with Joey Gase. They currently field a full-time and a part-time car.
Although balancing two responsibilities has come with plenty of challenges for Emerling, he said becoming a team owner in the Xfinity Series was the next logical step to ensure he could keep thriving in NASCAR, adding that methodical gains throughout the year have justified the decision.
“It’s been an OK season with the Modified stuff,” Emerling said. “As far as the Xfinity side of things, we’ve had quite a few different drivers throughout the season, but we’ve been progressively improving the program every week, and that was one of our goals.”
RACING REFERENCE: Career stats for Patrick Emerling
Emerling is no stranger to patience when it comes to achieving long-term success.
During his first decade of competing in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Emerling had to fight for every position while driving for his family-owned team. He did manage to get one victory at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2017, which he accomplished by earning the pole and leading 148 of 150 laps.
While Emerling did find more consistency as he logged more laps, it wasn’t until the 2021 season when the Orchard Park, New York native finally hit his stride on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
In the second race of the year at Stafford Motor Speedway, Emerling climbed through the field from the 23rdstarting position before the race was plagued by several late cautions that took out most of the leaders. Emerling took advantage of the chaos and found himself in the lead when rain prematurely ended the race on Lap 130, giving him the win.
Emerling built on the momentum from Stafford by tallying two more victories at New York International Raceway Park and Riverhead Raceway to go along with nine top fives. The consistency Emerling displayed throughout 2021 enabled him to finish second in the point standings behind Justin Bonsignore.
A season like 2021 was something Emerling had always wanted to achieve since he started competing in Modifieds, but getting there required him to carefully study his strengths and shortcomings while ensuring his cars could be competitive on a weekly basis.
“For a long time as a driver, I lacked confidence,” Emerling said. “There were a lot of little things I needed to work on like getting the equipment up to par, but I had to drive better, too. Every time I jump into a race car, I show up better the next time. I always like to learn.”
One person Emerling credits for making him a better driver is long-time crew chief and former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Jan Leaty.
Ever since the two began their partnership, Emerling has leaned on Leaty’s years of driving experience on how to get the most out of his car. Emerling values his tight friendship with Leaty and knows he can count on him regardless of what Modified series they compete in together.
RACING REFERENCE: Career stats for Jan Leaty
Leaty has been thrilled with the development Emerling has shown since his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour campaign back in 2011, and he knows Emerling’s determination is only going to result in many more successful years going forward.
“I could tell right away [Patrick] had good talent, but he needed some guidance,” Leaty said. “He was about 17 when I first started working with him, and every year, Patrick got a little bit better. Before long, he was sniffing the front of the pack more frequently.”
It came as no surprise to Leaty when Emerling told him he wanted to start his own Xfinity Series program.
Emerling dabbled in the Xfinity Series with Our Motorsports at the start of the decade and wanted to expand his involvement going into 2022. Although he had the equipment to do so, Emerling knew he needed more support to run a full-time Xfinity Series schedule.
Assistance came in the form of Gase, who like Emerling had cars ready to use for Xfinity Series competition. After deliberating with one another, on Dec. 30, 2021, the duo agreed to form Emerling-Gase Motorsports.
Along with splitting driving duties between their full-time No. 35 car, Emerling and Gase have also fielded a variety of drivers in their first year together. That list includes Parker Kligerman, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Shane Lee and Brad Perez, among others.
RACING REFERENCE: Emerling-Gase Motorsports’ 2022 results
With the Xfinity Series growing more competitive with each passing year, Gase did not expect anything to come easy for him and Emerling in 2022, but he said the organization has accomplished every single goal that was laid out ahead of the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
“Our main goal was to make every race and survive,” Gase said. “We’ve qualified for every race we’ve attempted this year whether it was with one car or both. I’m really proud about that and not a lot of teams can say the same. This is not an easy thing to do financially and there were a lot of people that doubted us, but we proved them wrong.”
Having already announced plans to field a second full-time car in the Xfinity Series starting in 2023, Gase is confident the team will keep making more progress regardless of who ends up driving the No. 35 or No. 53.
Gase admitted Emerling has played a substantial role toward that growth in regards to his experience in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, as well as with business decisions that have kept Emerling-Gase Motorsports on the track each week.
“Patrick and I are both racers, and we both have a lot of benefits to bring to the team,” Gase said. “On the business side, Patrick brings a lot, and he’s been in racing for a long time. There are so many little things that are different in the NASCAR world, but that’s something I can bring insight on. We complement each other in a lot of ways and we’ve become really good friends.”
Patrick Emerling plans to stay involved in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour despite his commitments to the NASCAR Xfinity Series.(Bryan Bennett/NASCAR)Even though his Xfinity Series schedule is about to get busier, Emerling does not plan to stray too far away from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
The number of races Emerling ends up running in the Xfinity Series will dictate how frequently he can climb into a Modified, but he intends to maintain his partnership with Leaty so he can keep showcasing his talents against drivers like Bonsignore, Doug Coby and Ron Silk, all of whom have at least one NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title.
Years of competing in the northeast have taught Emerling many lessons about patience and finesse behind the wheel, which are qualities he is carrying over to the Xfinity Series despite the aero differences between those cars and Modifieds.
Emerling can never see himself moving away from Modifieds completely and intends to keep racing in the discipline as frequently as he can.
“I always enjoy running Modifieds,” Emerling said. “Anytime I have that opportunity, I’ll take it, because it’s my passion, and I’ve always had a lot of fun there. Everyone has the same equipment, and a lot of the races come down to the driver, which I really enjoy.”
Emerling is proud to represent the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on the national level and is confident the persistence he showed during the 2010s will gradually turn Emerling-Gase Motorsports into one of the top Xfinity Series programs.
A Press Release By Emerling-Gase Motorsports
The team will run one car full-time under the 35 number and a second car part-time. The 35 number will also be receiving the 23 points from the 2021 season.
“I am very excited to be teaming up with Patrick on this new adventure,” said Gase. “We both share the same vision and goals for the future, and we are both true racers at heart. The other cool thing is that we will be two of the youngest owners in the sport, but still have a lot of experience and knowledge to go with that.”
“It was interesting how this team came about as Joey and I had the same goals of starting a NASCAR XFINITY Series team,” said Emerling. “We combined our equipment to field a competitive car full time, and I am very excited to see what the future holds for Emerling-Gase Motorsports."
The driver line up will consist of Emerling, Gase, Shane Lee, and others that will be announced at a later date.
To stay up to date with the team make sure to give them a follow at Emerling-Gase Motorsports on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For more information please e-mail EmerlingGaseMotorsports@gmail.com
Patrick Emerling picked a fine time to find a checkered flag. Despite never winning at the quarter-mile bullring before, Emerling claimed his first Riverhead Raceway victory on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in the Miller Lite 200 on Saturday night on New York’s Long Island.
Emerling posted two runner-up finishes at Riverhead earlier this season but had yet to break through to Victory Lane. In the penultimate race of the tour schedule, Emerling tightens the pressure on defending champion Justin Bonsignore heading into next week’s finale at Stafford Motor Speedway.
RELATED: Full race results
Points, though, weren’t the first thing on Emerling’s mind. Track owner and tour car owner Eddie Partridge lost his life to a heart attack following his win with Ryan Preece on Sept. 10 at Richmond Raceway. Partridge’s funeral was held Saturday morning and culminated with Partridge making one final lap around his racetrack.
“First off, I’d like to dedicate this race to Eddie Partridge there,” Emerling said. “Since I started racing, I was racing against his car. Hell of a team always, hell of a car. That was a team you always looked up to.
“So to win here today, I mean, we had two seconds in a row. It’s unbelievable. I mean, it’s kind of what we had to do with our points situation there. I’d just like to give it up to the team here and everyone involved here.”
Emerling started off eighth and didn’t pose a threat early, mired in the middle of the top 10 but not making quick work of any competitor in particular.
But a rash of cautions over the middle portion of the race allowed Emerling to methodically work into the top five.
Emerling got his best break after a lap 106 caution that saw leader Riverhead regular Dave Brigati turn another regular, Tim Rogers Jr., sideways in front of the field. Ron Silk climbed the left-front tire of Rogers’ car but all continued forward with the exception of Brigati and Mike Christopher Jr., who suffered a flat right front.
That chaos allowed Emerling to restart on the front row alongside Kyle Soper. Emerling got the better of Soper on that and multiple restarts and eventually pulled away to hold off a final charge from Bonsignore.
“Patrick and Soper just got through that mess and track position’s huge, but they had a really good car too,” Bonsignore said. “Can’t take anything away from them so congrats to them guys. It’s been a hell of a battle between the two of us all year, so they gained some tonight but we’ll see. We’ll go into Stafford next week, have a good run and then try and get another one here.”
Six-time modified tour champion Doug Coby was looking for the hat trick at Riverhead this year, but contact between him, Rogers and the outside wall entering Turn 3 destroyed his front suspension at lap 54. That sent Coby behind the wall early and jeopardizes his chances at the 2021 owner’s championship heading into Stafford.
The race started clean and green with a 45-lap run led entirely by Rogers before Tyler Rypkema turned around and brought out the first caution of the day. Shortly after the restart, Coby found his trouble in Turn 3 and saw his hopes of a three-peat vanish.
At lap 90, a pileup involving J.B. Fortin, Kyle Bonsignore and Craig Lutz in Turns 1 and 2 brought out the red flag after Lutz’s motor expired and laid oil on the racetrack.
The final caution of the race came at lap 133 when Dylan Slepian and Chuck Hossfeld got together and turned Slepian sideways in Turn 1. On the ensuing restart, Emerling got the jump and never looked back.
A Story by NASCAR.com
Patrick Emerling christened Lancaster Speedway with a victory for the ages.
After a late-race restart pitted the western New York native against Justin Bonsignore, his nearest threat for the championship, Emerling fended off a fierce charge on the final corner to win the inaugural Nu-Way Auto Parts 150 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race on Saturday night.
Emerling grew up in Orchard Park, New York, just 30 minutes south of New York International Raceway Park where the track sits. The hard charger excelled late and led the final 30 laps en route to his second tour victory of 2021 to reclaim the series points lead.
RELATED: Full race results
“I was like a kid in a candy store all day,” Emerling said. “Having a Whelen Modified Tour race at one of my home tracks in western New York is absolutely incredible. We had a great car all day. Great long run speed and the crew here did an excellent job.”
After a significant multi-car crash brought out the red flag within the final 10 laps, Emerling led Bonsignore back to the green flag with five laps to go. Emerling got the jump and knew he had to maintain the bottom line. Bonsignore knew his best shot would be jumping to the outside in Turns 3 and 4.
Bonsignore was right and rocketed alongside Emerling’s No. 07 car. The two made contact, but at the line, it was Emerling eking out the victory by 0.045 seconds.
“I was just going to hold the bottom,” Emerling said. “When you’re on the bottom, you have control. I wasn’t going to let him get underneath and then I opened up the top there. He got a decent run but we were just able to edge him a little bit there.”
Bonsignore, who entered the night with a 10-point lead over Emerling, put his class on full display by congratulating Emerling’s team on its way to Victory Lane before eventually seeking Emerling out himself, showing his respect after a hard-fought race.
“Congrats to Patrick,” Bonsignore said. “I mean, it sucks to lose, especially (to) the guy you’re battling in points, but a hometown guy at his home track with this crowd? Can’t thank Mikey Myers and his whole staff (enough) who put this whole show on.”
Jon McKennedy began the night on the pole and was untouchable for the first 90 laps despite best efforts from Bonsignore and Max McLaughlin. Eventually, though, Bonsignore reeled in McKennedy and made the pass for the lead on Lap 91 in the midst of a long green-flag run that followed an early caution at Lap 28.
Not long after Bonsignore set sail in the lead, Emerling’s car seemingly came to life. The long-run speed of the No. 07 allowed Emerling to erase a 1.14-second deficit in just 10 laps before leapfrogging Bonsignore into the top spot. Bonsignore was attempting to lap another driver when he caught the marbles in Turn 2, allowing Emerling to pass through cleanly on the inside for the lead.
The last 26 laps of the contest, however, became suddenly filled with cautions. On Lap 124, Scott Wylie and Walter Sutcliffe Jr. tangled in Turns 1 and 2 to bring out the second yellow flag of the evening.
Under that caution period, the leaders all came to pit road. Emerling maintained his lead but Bonsignore lost considerable track position and came out mired in the middle of the top 10.
“Picked a bad time to have our worst pit stop probably in five years,” Bonsignore said. “The guys always are balanced out … so we’ll win and lose as a team tonight.”
Then the cautions kept coming.
One lap after the restart, McKennedy and Anthony Nocella made contact entering Turn 1 and sent both cars sideways at the front of the field. Eric Goodale suffered significant damage while Andy Jankowiak and J.B. Fortin also got collected.
The ensuing restart on Lap 141 was no better. Chuck Hossfeld seemed to suffer a right-front suspension issue entering Turn 1 and clipped the back bumper of Silk’s No. 85 machine. Silk attempted to make the corner but was caught on the outside three-wide and triggered a pile-up that gathered up Tommy Catalano, Ken Heagy, Timmy Solomito, Mike Leaty and Nocella.
At the checkered flag, McLaughlin finished third behind Emerling and Bonsignore while McKennedy and Goodale rounded out the top five.
Tyler Rypkema came home sixth ahead of Hossfeld and Fortin, who completed the lead-lap finishers. Doug Coby finished ninth, one lap down, after starting the race two laps down — the six-time champ needed his shifter replaced before the field took the green flag. Rounding out the top 10 was Kyle Bonsignore.
The victory for Emerling inches him closer to the points lead one race after losing the top position to Bonsignore. That battle, with Bonsignore currently six points ahead, will heat up as the tour heads to Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday, Aug. 6, for its next contest.
A Press Release by Lancaster Motorsports Park
Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, NY, heads into an action-packed race weekend fresh off a strong finish at his home track. This past Saturday, June 10, Emerling posted a runner-up finish in the Ol’ Boy Cup 60 at Lancaster Speedway at New York International Raceway Park.
On Saturday, July 31, he hopes to improve his finishing position by one to take down a victory in the Nu-Way Auto Parts 150; the track’s inaugural Whelen Modified Tour event.
“I’ve been wanting the Modified Tour to come out to Western New York for a long time,” said Emerling, whose travel time to compete on the Modified Tour is normally six plus hours, “not only because it’s a short commute but because I’m hoping it does a lot for Modified racing here in the Western part of the state.”
Before the Modified Tour rolls into town, Emerling will have his hands full with a busy schedule at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. Looking to pad his point lead in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, he is also driving the No. 23 Chevrolet for Our Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
The 30 year old driver currently sits atop the NASCAR Whelen Modified points standings; a scant three points ahead of defending series champion Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville, NY. Heading into Loudon, Emerling has amassed an impressive five top-five and six top-ten finishes in the six series races thus far this season; including a win in the prestigious Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Riding consistency to the top of the standings, Emerling feels no pressure in pursuit of the championship.
“We want to be leading the points,” said Emerling, almost matter-of-factly. “It’s what you work toward. But, we are really just a bunch of guys that enjoy racing. We are having fun doing what we do and trying to run the best that we can.”
That bunch of guys also includes crew chief Jan Leaty, a successful modified driver in his own right.
“We are good at the same tracks,” said Emerling of his crew chief. “New Hampshire was one of Jan’s best tracks and it’s one of my better tracks as well. I think that definitely provides a connection between us.”
That could spell trouble for the competition at Lancaster. Ironically, Emerling and Leaty are tied on the all-time Modified win list at Lancaster Speedway with seven wins apiece.
Emerling has an impressive stat in the Sportsman Modified division at the Speedway as well. He is tied with Don Staubitz, Jr. for thirteenth on Lancaster Speedway’s all-time Sportsman feature winners list with eight victories. Admittedly, his most memorable experience at the Speedway came while running the sportsman division.
“Years ago, while running the Sportsman division, we won a handful of races in a row and people started complaining that we were cheating,” said Emerling. “One night we finished second. Well, first and third place got disqualified. We were they only legal car in tech.”
With the parity of the front-runners on the Modified Tour this year – Emerling’s average finish is 3.5, Bonsignore’s is 4.5 and Doug Coby’s is 4.4 – the familiarity could be the advantage at the D-shaped half-mile.
“The track is quite different from anywhere else that the Tour runs,” said Emerling. “We’ve won a good amount here in the past and finished second last week even missing on the setup a bit. I have a really good handle of the way you have to drive this place and I know what to expect as the race goes on. I think that gives me at least a slight advantage over the competitors running the track for the first time.”
And, Emerling has been especially good in his home state of NY this season. He has a pair of runner-up finishes at Riverhead and a third-place finish at Oswego. While there is a long way yet to go in the season, Lancaster Speedway could be the catalyst for a run to the championship for the local favorite, which is the “ultimate goal” for Emerling.
Fans won’t want to miss when locals with experience and accolades like Emerling, Tommy Catalano, Tyler Rypkema and Chuck Hossfeld take on perennial favorites like Bonsignore, Coby and others.
General admission tickets are now on sale for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at New York International Raceway Park (NYIRP) in Lancaster, NY. Grandstand tickets for the Nu-Way Auto Parts 150, scheduled for Saturday, July 31, are available at SeetheEvents.com for $35 for adults and $15 for children ages 12 and under.
A Story by NASCAR.com
It took some diving, ducking and dodging by Patrick Emerling on the final restart, but the No. 07 team’s luck finally, finally turned around last Friday at the Spring Sizzler.
Emerling avoided the carnage on the final restart, swerving to the right and shooting the gap between the spinning cars of Justin Bonsignore and Anthony Nocella to grab the lead and the win.
“I don’t know what happened there,” Emerling said. “Everyone started getting together. Sparks were flying and just kind of burned right through the smoke there and just kind of worked out.”
For much of the day, however, it appeared that the rotten luck that has plagued the team since 2020 would bite them again. The pure speed was there last season — they qualified six of eight races inside the top-10 — but one way or another, the team could not catch a break, scoring only one top-10 finish in 2020. An electrical problem Friday forced the team to miss both practice and qualifying and start the race last.
But good fortune came storming back as the race drew on. Emerling caught a caution on lap 61 and got the lucky dog. Even after spinning to bring out the yellow on lap 95, Emerling had worked his way to fifth by the time the race restarted for the final time.
Patrick Emerling (right) celebrates in Victory Lane with crew chief Jan Leaty after winning the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler. (Adam Glanzman/NASCAR)Even though the race was called early due to the rain, crew chief Jan Leaty still felt the team was in good shape to pass the top four cars had the race gone the distance.
“You just will never know for sure,” Leaty said. “But I know, the position we were in, we executed the strategy to put on our tires later in the event than most of the guys did. So we had 25-lap better tires than almost everyone… I felt like the cars in front of us, we were going to pass them. The car was mint, and they were holding him up, to use his words.”
Leaty won the Sizzler as an owner-driver in 1996 with friends and family. While it was certainly a different experience to celebrate in the rain, it was proof to him that the team is still a force to be reckoned with in the Tour garage.
“It’s different for sure,” Leaty said. “It made me feel good that other guys, the next generation, so to speak, got to experience it too, and that I got to help them get there.”
Now, Leaty’s just looking forward to an issue-free day soon.
“It’s not like we’re all of a sudden on cruise control here,” Leaty said. “We’re working really hard to get the results we’re getting. I keep telling the guys ‘One day, things are just gonna go smooth and we’re not gonna know what to do with ourselves.’”
A Press Release By NASCAR
Patrick Emerling dodged the wreck. And then waited on the rain. His reward? The Orchard Park, New York, driver is the 49th NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler winner Friday night. Rain ended the race after 130 laps at Stafford Motor Speedway.
To get the win, Emerling had to pilot the No. 07 Captain Pip Marina Chevrolet through a cluster of spinning cars after Ryan Preece and Ron Silk got together in Turn 2 battling for the win. The wreck also collected Anthony Nocella and Justin Bonsignore. Emerling, who was running fifth, went high and then dove between the pinwheeling Nocella and Bonsignore to get clear.
The red came out during the ensuing caution for developing rain showers, and the weather eventually forced NASCAR officials to call the event. Eric Goodale, who won the season opener at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway, also picked his way through the cars to finish second. Tommy Catalano finished third, while Timmy Solomito overcame an earlier spin of his own to finish fourth. Craig Lutz rounded out the top five.
RELATED: Complete race results
It is Emerling’s second career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win in 112 starts over 11 seasons. He won at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2017 after leading 148 of 150 laps. On Friday, the only laps he led where the final seven under yellow.
His best finish at Stafford was fourth in 2018. Driving for his family-owned team, Emerling also matched crew chief Jan Leaty, who won the 1996 Spring Sizzler as a driver. Jon McKennedy finished sixth, followed by Andrew Krause, Chuck Hossfeld, Ronnie Williams and Kyle Bonsignore. Justin Bonsignore was scored 13th, Silk 14th, Preece 17th and Nocella 18th after the late wreck.
Goodale leads Emerling by six points and Catalano 11 after two races. McLaughlin is fourth, while defending tour champion Justin Bonsignore is tied with his cousin Kyle for fifth.
Matt Swanson earned his first Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole Award earlier in the evening and led a race-high 84 laps, but a wreck ended his night after 111 laps and he finished 20th.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to action on Saturday, May 15, with the first of three trips to Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.
A Story By RaceDayCT.com
It’s been a rough week for Patrick Emerling at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway. He blew a motor in his primary car. He got taken out while running in the top-five late in the first feature of the week. He even had issues in the pits with the lift gate on his trailer going bad.
Tuesday night the Orchard Park, N.Y. driver got lifted up finally in New Smyrna, and in the process got to exact a bit of revenge. Emerling held off Eric Goodale on a pair of late restarts to win the caution-marred 35-lap Tour Type Modified division feature Tuesday at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway.
“So far there’s just been a lot of things go wrong,” Emerling said. “It’s good to have one thing go right for once.”
Goodale, of Riverhead, N.Y., was second and Matt Hirschman of Northampton, Pa. third. Ryan Preece of Berlin and Craig Lutz of Miller Place, N.Y. rounded out the top-five respectively.
It was the second of five consecutive nights of Tour Type Modified features at the World Series. Lutz won the 50-lap opening feature on Monday.
Emerling got by Goodale for the lead on a lap 23 restart then never trailed again. It was fitting payback. Goodale spun Emerling out of fourth place with two laps remaining in Monday’s feature.
“Last night was pretty unfortunate to us,” Emerling said. “We were decent. We were good enough to stay in the top-five and lead some laps last night. But we got taken out, so this definitely makes up for it.”
Emerling was able to easily pace away from Goodale over the two late restarts Tuesday.
“I was just trying too hard,” Goodale said of the final restart. “I spun the tires a little bit there. I still had a chance at him in [turns] one and two but [Emerling] was just a little bit better late in the race. He just had a little bit better drive on exits. This one slipped away. Me and Patrick got into yesterday so I’m glad for him to come back and get the win. It just sucks.”
The “Big One” for the 36-car field came on lap 23 with some battling going on at the back end of the top-10 going bad.
A Story by RaceDayCT.com
It was a night where going on the offense early and playing defense late proved to be the perfect recipe for Patrick Emerling. The Orchard Park, N.Y driver held off Jimmy Blewett and Matt Hirschman on a late restart to win the 35-lap Tour Type Modified division feature at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway Thursday.
It was the first victory of the week for Emerling.
“We’ve kind of struggled in the last couple weeks here,” Emerling said. “We finally got it where it needed to be tonight and that was the best car we’ve had so far.”
Blewett, of Howell, N.J., was second and Hirschman, of Northampton, Pa. third. Blewett led from the start before Emerling went to the top spot on lap seven. The race played out caution from a lap five restart until the yellow returned on lap 33 to set up the late battle.
“I was hoping for no cautions there,” Emerling said. “That caution definitely made things interesting there.”
Emerling was able to fend off Blewett and Hirschman following the lap 33 restart and allowed them to fight over the runner-up spot.
“We had a fast car tonight,” Blewett said. “He just got by me early. He had a lot of speed. I wanted to save just a little bit if I could for the end there, which I did. I was going to cross him over coming off of [turn] two and I think [Hirschman] knew that so he tried to cross me over as well. I wasn’t going to put [Emerling] three-wide. We did the best we could. We’ve got a big race all of us tomorrow night. I know [Hirschman] is running for points and every spot counts for him, but he ran me like a gentleman and so did Patrick. It’s on to tomorrow night.”
It was the first race of the week that Hirschman didn’t finish second.
“I just got tired of finishing second so we were going to finish somewhere else,” Hirschman joked. “… I should have probably finished second. I think I could have went in and slid up and instead I thought maybe about a run on the bottom of [turn] four on Emerling, but probably cost myself second. Then once Jimmy got back ahead of me that last corner I was going to let them settle in and see what happened there. We’ll move on to tomorrow night.”
After four events this week, Hirschman will take the series points lead into the finale Friday, the Richie Evans Memorial 100. On Monday Anthony Nocella held off Hirschman in a side-by-side battle to the checkered flag to get his first career New Smyrna victory in the 50-lap opener for the division. On Tuesday it was Craig Lutz scoring his first World Series win in a 35-lapper. Wednesday saw the drama of Monday’s finish ramped up exponentially with Nocella and Hirschman finishing in a virtual dead heat at the checkered. Track officials deemed Nocella the victory of the John Blewett III Memorial 76.
Nocella, who was third Tuesday and came into Thursday as the points leader, finished seventh. Hirschman takes a six point lead over Nocella into the week’s finale. Lutz is a distant third in the standings, 28 points behind Hirschman.
“The way the week started I would have thought we’d probably have got a win or two by now,” Hirschman said. “But we’re finishing every night.”
A Story by RaceDayCT.com
After a plethora of passes for the lead over a minimal amount of time, the checkered flag flew on the Whelen Modified Tour’s exhibition Whelen All-Star Shootout with a three-wide battle coming to the start/finish line.
In the end it was Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, N.Y. using a final lap pass for the lead to win the 35-lap Whelen All-Star Shootout.
Bobby Santos III of Franklin, Mass. was second and Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville, N.Y. third.
“We were just good enough,” Emerling said. “… That’s definitely a close one here. You don’t see too many three-wide’s here like that.”
It was the first career victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for Emerling.
“I think we were pretty close here the past couple years,” Emerling said. “A lot of top-five’s, second place, third place, fourth place finishes. We’ve just been working on getting faster. … We always race solid. … We’ll see if we can carry this momentum to tomorrow [in the Eastern Propane & Oil 100]. Awesome day for us. I knew when we unloaded off the trailer we were going to have an awesome car here.”
Santos held the lead at the white flag with Emerling second and Bonsignore third. Emerling got a solid run down the backstretch on the final lap and avoided a block by Santos to get under him into turn three.
“Earlier on in the run there I was playing around with getting stuck on the bottom there,” Emerling said. “If you do it just right you’re able to make up quite a bit of ground coming into the bottom. We just kind of had the car to do it there. We were pretty free, I couldn’t run up top at all. So that was my only chance there.”
After Emerling got by him through turn three, Santos looked to complete the crossover through turn four, coming back under Emerling through the final corner. Bonsignore was behind Emerling coming off of turn four, but darted low off the final corner and got under Santos on the frontstretch, sending the three cars three-wide to the checkered.
“We were feeling out the car the whole race there,” Emerling said. “I knew what I was going to do on the last lap. [Santos] took it easy on me. This wasn’t the 100-lapper so. I think a lot of guys were conservative too. We don’t want to wreck out cars for the race tomorrow. … I was saving up for the bottom shot there. We were able to make it stick and we came out of the corner halfway decent. It was pretty close. I wasn’t sure if he had me or not.”
Said Santos: “I’ve been in that situation multiple times and been lucky enough to be the winner. This time I wasn’t, which is a bummer. [Emerling] made the right move. He went to the bottom to make the pass. I had a couple different options and I guess I made the wrong decision.”
Bonsignore was hoping to take advantage of the leaders battling through the final corner.
“I played it pretty safe down the backstretch and saw them go down to the apron and I wasn’t sure where they’d end up,” Bonsignore said. “I kind of anticipated [Santos] to try and stay on the outside of [Emerling] through the middle of [turns] three and four and I thought maybe they’d make a little bit of contact and get up out of the groove and I could roll the bottom groove and beat them back to the line, but it didn’t work. I had a huge run off of [turn] four. … I was greedy and went for it myself and made it a little exciting.”
Santos is the two-time defending champion of the Eastern Propane & Oil 100 and has won three of the last four Whelen Modified Tour points events at the track dating back to 2017. Friday he was making his first start in the Sapienza Racing ride in place the injured regular driver Dave Sapienza.
“This was good for me today,” Santos said. “It’s my first time sitting in that car. Just working with [crew chief] Tommy Grasso and Dave Sapienza and this whole team, today was just good to learn everybody and learn my information to Tommy so that he can make the right adjustments for me. Obviously he gave me what I needed today, he gave me a good car.”