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.”