Over the past few years, Ryan Preece has been the one driver that has emerged from the ranks of Tour-type Modified racing in the Northeast attempting to make it in the top levels of NASCAR. In the wake of Preece’s recent success, there have also been questions of who will take their shot next. That question has now been answered, as defending Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series champion Patrick Emerling will make his debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 23.
After winning last year’s title in the RoC Modified Series, Emerling is currently in position for a second straight title. He also recently took his success beyond New York and Pennsylvania by winning his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race on one of the tour’s largest stages, Bristol Motor Speedway (TN), just a month ago.
“It’s something we’ve always wanted to do. We’ve been having a little more success in the Modifieds; we figured this is a good time to try and get to the next level,” Emerling told Speed51.com powered by JEGS Tuesday afternoon.
Emerling revealed that he will drive for current NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner DJ Copp. While the deal with Copp is currently a one-race deal, he hopes it is the beginning of a new team effort.
“The reason why we are doing it is to get into it, get some experience at it and see what it’s about. That’s the big thing, and seeing where it could go,” Emerling said. “See if we could run Loudon and getting approved for mile and a half tracks, and going through it that way. We figured it made sense to hop in a truck at Loudon since we’re going to be there, we know the track and stuff. I’m pretty excited.”
It is also exciting because it brings Emerling together with an owner and team that has its roots in his home state of New York, and a team that also shares a bond with another great racing family who Emerling has worked very closely with.
“DJ Copp who owns the team, he’s from up by me and he’s been family friends with the Leaty’s who help me out a lot. They’re good friends of mine. It just works out.”
While it is a small operation, it is a hopeful sign for the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series during a time in which we have seen a decrease in team participation for 2018. Emerling feels his greatest asset going forward is the same thing that has helped him find success in both the Race of Champions and on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
“The biggest thing is confidence,” he admitted. “On the Tour, I had been lacking for a while. But now I’m driving more confidently.”
Speaking of Modifieds, Emerling is still all in for running the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race that same day as the NCWTS at Loudon, a race that he’s quietly becoming a favorite to win.
“It’s going to be a pretty busy weekend because we’ll be at Loudon Friday and Saturday, then we’re going to run the (RoC) US Open at Lancaster (near Buffalo, NY) Sunday. It’s going to be one of the busier weekends of the year for us.”
Though it might be a lot on his plate, if there is one thing that has become clear, the more opportunities there are to drive, the more opportunities there are to win. In this day and age, Emerling knows that winning is everything.
-By: Connor Sullivan Speed51.com CT, MA, RI & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com