Story By: KRISTEN LESTOCK / NHMS – LOUDON, NH – It was a three-wide photo finish in Friday’s sixth annual NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour All Star Shootout at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but it was Patrick Emerling who made it to the finish line first, beating Bobby Santos III by only 0.022 seconds, barely the width of a racing tire.
“We were feeling out the car the whole race, and I knew what I was going to do in the last lap,” said 26-year-old Emerling. “We were able to get ourselves at the right spot at the right time and just executed the right move at the end. It could have spun both ways. It was a real close one there.”
Emerling boldly entered the final turns of the race with an aggressive dive to the bottom of turn three. He held speed and let the car drift up the track out of turn four, giving him just enough momentum to keep two other drivers at bay. Emerling says he figured out that running in the second groove coming out of the backstretch allowed him to make up quite a bit of ground, helping him reach victory lane. Today’s win not only marks Emerling’s first victory at Loudon, but his first win this season. It was a bold move in an otherwise classic modified race featuring clean racing and lots of lead changes.
“I think a lot of guys were a little bit conservative,” said Orchard Park, N.Y. native Emerling. “We don’t want to wreck our cars for the race tomorrow.”
The All Star Shootout featured a 35-lap run in a 30-minute timeframe, with a mandatory pit stop at lap 20. The top-five leaders were inverted before the second half restart. The race ended with Santos, Justin Bonsignore, Jon McKennedy and Ron Silk rounding out the top five.
The entire NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour field will take on “The Magic Mile” on Saturday when 40 drivers race in the Eastern Propane & Oil 100 at 1:45 p.m.