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NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

Seas Part for Patrick Emerling in Spring Sizzler

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.

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 biggest laps he led where the final ones under yellow.

“We were there at the end and we lucked out,” Emerling said. “There’s no other way of saying it. That’s not the way we wanted to win these races, but we were going to be right there anyways no doubt. We were going to be in contention and I think we would have won this race anyways.”

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.

It all came down to the decisive restart that turned out to be for the win …. and for the loss.

“I locked the rear brakes up getting into [turn] three,” Preece said. “The restart before it didn’t turn so I put a bunch of rear brakes in it. … I feel bad for [Silk], he would have won this race. I’m sorry. It sucks.”

Silk says Preece apologized in person, too.

“I don’t know, I spoke to [Preece], he apologized. He said it was his fault. I know he didn’t do it on purpose. He’s not that kind of guy. … It definitely cost us the win. Who know if we would have won if had gone 150, but it started raining pretty shortly after that.”

Said Nocella: “We had a real good shot to win that one. I don’t know it just kept raining more and more. … The three of us went down into [turn] three and we were in the middle of [turn] three and the track is wet and he just got into [Silk] a little bit. If I would have cleared them I would have been leading right now. I don’t know I’ve got a destroyed car. It is what it is.”

Matt Swanson earned his first Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole Award earlier in the evening, but mechanical issues 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.


  1. Patrick Emerling
  2. Eric Goodale
  3. Tommy Catalano
  4. Timmy Solomito
  5. Craig Lutz
  6. Jon McKennedy
  7. Andrew Krause
  8. Chuck Hossfeld
  9. Ronnie Williams
  10. Kyle Bonsignore
  11. Max McLaughlin
  12. Doug Coby
  13. Justin Bonsignore
  14. Ron Silk
  15. Woody Pitkat
  16. J.B. Fortin
  17. Ryan Preece
  18. Anthony Nocella
  19. Matt Galko
  20. Matt Swanson
  21. Ken Heagy
  22. Rob Summers
  23. Gary McDonald
  24. Tyler Rypkema
  25. Dave Sapienza
  26. Melissa Fifield
  27. Gary Byington
  28. Walter Sutcliffe, Jr

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He also has extensive experience covering NASCAR, IndyCar and Dirt Sprint Cars.

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