The seas literally parted for Patrick Emerling on what became the decisive restart for the 49th Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Ryan Preece and Ron Silk restarted on the front row with 25 laps to go, but rain was quickly approaching the racetrack. Justin Bonsignore and Anthony Nocella had a shot from the second row too. None of them would win the race.
Preece had struggled on restarts all night, and couldn’t get his car slowed down when it mattered the most, losing the lead to Silk in the first pair of corners. Preece looked under Silk in Turn 3 but couldn’t stop and shot up the hill, wiping both former champions out in the process.The incident collected Bonsignore and Nocella too, nowhere to go.
A path formed down the middle for Emerling to drive right through it all. (Note the video below says Goodale, but it’s actually Emerling that drove through it)
"Top four cars become involved … and Goodale comes out the race leader!"
— NASCAR Roots (@NASCARRoots) May 1, 2021
Preece accepted full responsibility for the incident.
“I just buried rear brake to it, and it still didn’t turn getting into [turn] one,” Preece told Short Track Scene. “It didn’t show any sign of locking up the rear, but going off into [turn] three, you drive it in, and it just chattered the back, got sideways and I was out of control from there.”
With the rain beginning to spit onto the track, it made each restart more intense, with the chances growing that it could be the last one of the night. Nocella believed there was moisture on the track that contributed to the incident.
“I figured that maybe we’d have a chance to make it to the end, but I knew it was a possibility that we wouldn’t,” Silk said. “Just how long it was going to hold off before it was too much… Bummer way to end the night.”
Preece walked over to Silk after the race and offered an apology that was accepted.
“It sucks, right?” Preece said. “Because you don’t want to that to happen. It’s 38 degrees, it’s raining, and points, and just trying to put the end of the race together… In the end, I got Ronnie. It’s unfortunate.”
And somehow, some way, Patrick Emerling was there to take advantage, picking up his second career Whelen Modified Tour win when the race was called 20 laps short of its scheduled distance due to that rain.
“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.”