Story By: KYLE SOUZA / JDV PRODUCTIONS – ATTLEBORO, MA – Two-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour winner Patrick Emerling will lead a stout field of challengers to the next event on the tour schedule, next Saturday, June 12, at Oswego Speedway.
In the Steel Palace 150, Emerling will look to maintain a scant one-point advantage in the championship standings over two-time and defending champion Justin Bonsignore.
The Oswego event is the second of three during the 2021 season that will be promoted by Josh Vanada and the entire team at JDV Productions. The team is coming off a strong day at Jennerstown Speedway on May 29, celebrating the life of fallen heroes in the Jennerstown Salutes 150 presented by DGV, won by Bonsignore.
Emerling is no stranger to the .625-mile oval — having competed at the historic track four times previously in Whelen Modified Tour action, with a best finish of fifth in 2016. Emerling also has a victory in the Race of Champions Modified Tour at Oswego and has plenty of laps at the tricky New York track.
“It really is,” Emerling said of the track being a bit of its own character. “The boiler plate on the inside wall is a little bit different. There are a few little things to know about it… one of the faster tracks we go to for sure.”
The Orchard Park, New York, native is off to the best start in his Whelen Modified Tour career this season. Emerling finished eighth in the season-opener at Martinsville Speedway on April 8, and followed it up with his second career win in the rain-shortened NAPA Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway on April 30. Since then, Emerling has finished second (Riverhead Raceway) and fifth (Jennerstown Speedway) to maintain the series points lead in chase of his first title.
“That’s kind of the way you want things to go, to run consistently in the front and the last couple of years we just struggled,” Emerling said. “We were positive we were better than where we ended up. We had a ton of flat tires… everything that could go wrong, went wrong. But, this year, we’ve been keeping it clean and turning it on. We got caught up in a wreck at Martinsville but turned it into a solid day to open the season, won at Stafford, and it’s been good.”
Emerling is starting to consider entering points racing mode — with four races complete and 10 races remaining — as he looks to capture his first Whelen Modified Tour title this year.
“After the last race and going into Oswego, it might change a few decisions in the race. Instead of going for something, you might play the conservative side of the strategy,” Emerling said, “It may affect the way we race. We just want to keep building and getting the cars better and getting better across the board. I’m really happy with where we are at right now, especially our pit stops. At Jennerstown, we came in outside the top-five and came out first on the pit stop. That’s huge for us.”
His chemistry with crew chief Jan Leaty is nearly the best it has ever been — and he’s looking forward to chasing the championship over the rest of the season at some different — and in Emerling’s words — more “neutral” tracks.
“You try to be on the same page with each other and get the results, that’s what we have been focused on,” Emerling said. “We are looking forward to heading to Oswego. I’m excited with the whole schedule for the Whelen Modified Tour this year, honestly. Oswego, Lancaster, Jennerstown, Richmond… some more neutral tracks this year and that always helps me out. I can’t thank my sponsors, Captain Pips Marina & Hideaway, Emerling Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, and everyone involved in Emerling Motorsports enough for all their help and support.”
The Saturday, June 12, race day will also include the Oswego Supermodifieds to wrap a full racing card. NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour practice will take place from 3-4 p.m., with Mayhew Tools pole qualifying set for 6 p.m. The drop of the green flag in the Steel Palace 150 will be set for 7:30 p.m. For those who can’t make it to the track, the race will also air via a live stream on NBC Sports Gold.