Patrick Emerling takes victory over Riverhead
Patrick Emerling in the victory lane at Riverhead Raceway. (Photo NASCAR)
RIVERHEAD, NY – Patrick Emerling chose the right time to find a checkered flag.
Although he’s never won at quarter-mile arenas before, Emerling claimed his first Riverhead Raceway victory on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in the Miller Lite 200 on Saturday night in Long Island, New York.
Emerling finished second at Riverhead earlier this season, but had yet to cross the victory line. In the penultimate race of the tour schedule, Emerling is stepping up the pressure on defending champion Justin Bonsignore ahead of next week’s final at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Points, however, weren’t the first thing on Emerling’s mind.
Track owner and tour car owner Eddie Partridge lost his life to a heart attack after winning with Ryan Preece on September 10 at Richmond Raceway. Partridge’s funeral took place on Saturday morning and culminated with Partridge making one final lap around his race track.
“First of all, I would like to dedicate this race to Eddie Partridge there,” said Emerling. “Ever since I started running I was running against his car. A team from hell always, a car from hell. It’s a team you’ve always admired.
“So to win here today, I mean we had two seconds in a row. It’s amazing. I mean, that’s kind of what we had to do with our points situation there. I would just like to hand it over to the team here and everyone involved here.
Emerling started eighth and wasn’t a threat early on, mired in the middle of the top 10 but not doing the quick job of a particular competitor.
But a wave of warnings in the middle of the race allowed Emerling to work methodically in the top five.
Emerling got his best break after a warning on lap 106 that saw Riverhead leader 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 kept moving except Brigati and Mike Christopher Jr., who suffered a flat tire in the right front.
This chaos allowed Emerling to return to the front row alongside Kyle Soper. Emerling got the better of Soper on that and several reboots and eventually pulled away to fend off one final charge from Bonsignore.
“Patrick and Soper just got through this mess and the position on the track is huge, but they also had a really good car,” Bonsignore said. “I can’t take anything away from them, so congratulations to them guys. It’s been a hell of a battle between the two of us all year, so they won some tonight but we’ll see. We’ll go to Stafford next week, have a good race, then try to 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 on Lap 54. It sent off Coby behind the wall early and jeopardizes his 2021 Owners Championship chances ahead of Stafford.
The race started clean and green with a 45-lap run entirely led by Rogers before Tyler Rypkema turned around and brought out the first yellow of the day.
Shortly after the restart, Coby found his troubles in Turn 3 and saw his hopes of a triple lap vanish.
On lap 90, a pile-up involving JB Fortin, Kyle Bonsignore and Craig Lutz in turns 1 and 2 brought out the red flag after Lutz’s engine expired and deposited oil on the track.
The last warning of the race came on lap 133 when Dylan Slepian and Chuck Hossfeld got together and turned Slepian sideways into Turn 1.
On the reboot that followed, Emerling made the jump and never looked back.
Patrick Emerling, Justin Bonsignore, Roger Turbush, Kyle Soper, Eric Goodale, Woody Pitkat, Timmy Solomito, Tom Rogers Jr., Kyle Bonsignore, Andy Jankowiak, Dylan Slepian, Tyler Rypkema, Chuck Hossfeld, Mike Christopher Jr., Austin Beers, JB Fortin, Ron Silk, Dave Sapienza, Walter Sutcliffe Jr., Kyle Ellwood, Ken Heagy, Dave Brigati, Craig Lutz, Doug Coby, John Baker, Melissa Fifield.