BRISTOL, Tenn. — Patrick Emerling took the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to school on Wednesday evening, converting a virtually perfect scorecard at Bristol Motor Speedway into his first-career series win.
Emerling was fastest in practice, won the pole and led all but two laps in the Bush’s Beans 150 en route to what he called the biggest win of his career.
The only times the 24-year-old native of Orchard Park, N.Y. lost the top spot was at the start-finish line on a lap 67 restart, and again under caution at lap 73 as the field came down pit road.
Both of those laps were led by Justin Bonsignore, but Emerling was the unbridled star under green-flag conditions all race long.
“It’s just incredible for us,” Emerling said. “Being a part-time team, to come out here and perform like this against the best modified drivers in the world … it’s an unbelievable feeling, really. I’m having trouble putting it into words because days like this don’t happen very often. You have to savor them when they do.”
“Any time you show up to a more neutral track … one like Bristol, where these guys don’t run all the time … it makes it easier for a team like ours because it levels the playing field, in a sense. We took advantage of that today.”
A full-time Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour competitor and that series’ defending champion, Wednesday’s performance marked a break through for Emerling on the Whelen Tour in his
Emerling also added that the VHT traction compound applied to the bottom of the race track may have made it easier for him to maintain his track position out front as well.
“The track bite … it may have helped me, in a sense, because a couple tracks that we run up north in New York use it, so we know how to adjust to it and I think it showed,” he said. “We were the fastest car in practice, in time trials and in the race. I don’t know how you can ask for better than that.”
Emerling was only seriously challenged by Justin Bonsignore in the first half, as the teal No. 51 stalked Emerling’s every move in and out of traffic.
A three-car accident, collecting Austin Pickens, Calvin Carroll and Rob Summers, drew the red flag for the first time on lap 10 before a 47-lap green flag run broke out and allowed the field to spread out and race among one another.
From there, only a spin by Kyle Bonsignore in Turn 2 on lap 62 and a crash on the frontstretch between Bobby Santos and points leader Timmy Solomito on the ensuing restart slowed the pace before the halfway point.
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