Story By: ERNIE SAXTON / SAMMONS PRODUCTIONS – ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – When the green flag drops on the Three Quarter (TQ) Midget pack inside Atlantic City, NJ’s historic Boardwalk Hall on NAPA KNOW HOW Weekend Friday and Saturday January 25-26, Patrick Emerling is likely more eager to get up to speed than any of his rivals.
That’s because the 26 year old Emerling from Orchard Park, NY was not among the four dozen TQ drivers who competed in the Indoor Auto Racing Series Fueled By VP Race Fuels opener in Allentown, PA over the January 4-5 weekend.
At stake in Atlantic City is the most prestigious prize in all of Indoor Auto Racing concrete series, the Gambler’s Classic. This year’s race will be 17th running. Emerling has been in several of them but has never won the event.
Emerling is one of the most versatile drivers in the field. A full time asphalt Modified racer in northwestern New York State most of the summer, Emerling has also run dirt Modifieds with some success.
He has 86 career starts on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Touring Series with one win – a huge one on August 17, 2017 at Bristol Motor Speedway – and 15 overall top fives despite a part-time schedule. Emerling also drove in two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races in 2017.
Emerling will be returning to the Indoor Series with a proven winning combination. He had sold off his own equipment and took off the 2018 Indoor Series to recuperate from shoulder surgery.
Past winners of the Gambler’s Classic entered in this year’s race are defending champion Ryan Flores, of Troutman, NC. who was one of the two winners in the recent Allentown Indoor races. Erick Rudolph of Ransomville, NY., who won the 2017, 2015 and 2012 Classics, and Anthony Sesely, Matawan, NJ,. who won the race in 2016, 2014 and 2013 are also entered.
Lou Cicconi Jr., a two-time winner in 2010 and 2006, is returning to compete this year after a strong return to TQ Midget competition in Allentown. Cicconi will be fielding a three car team which includes another two-time winner, Joey Payne (2007, 2004) and young Kyle Reinhardt who led the early laps of the Saturday feature in Allentown.
Champ Karts and Slingshots will serve as the two support classes.
The Friday, Jan. 25 schedule calls for TQ Midgets to run in four 20-lap A-Main Qualifiers that will determine the top starting spots for Saturday’s 40-lap feature. Champ Kart and Slingshot qualifying is also on the Friday agenda.
The TQ 40 lap Gambler’s Classic feature is the weekend highlight on Saturday. Champ Karts and Slingshots return to run their feature races Saturday night as well.
Race fans who have purchased lower level reserved tickets in Boardwalk Hall will have the opportunity to visit the drivers and cars up close during in Saturday’s Fan Fest, which takes place immediately before the start of the night of competition.