LANCASTER, N.Y. – The return of the ground pounding, mighty Modifieds brought the fans out to Lancaster National Speedway & Dragway on Saturday for the Tommy Druar/Tony Jankowiak Memorial 110 Race of Champions Modified Tour event. The crowd was one of the biggest in recent years at the Western New York racing facility.
Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, NY scored his first career Modified feature win at Lancaster as he captured the 110-lap feature.
Emerling inherited the lead for good on lap 76 when Matt Hirschman pitted under caution for tires. He led the final 34 laps and survived a late-race challenge from Chuck Hossfeld to secure the victory.
Daren Scherer and former track champion, Dave Wollaber, led the field to the initial green flag. Scherer jumped out to the early race lead followed by Tyler Rypkema, Bobby Holmes, Hirschman and Tony Hanbury.
Hirschman quickly picked his way through the top five and was up to second by lap 12. Four laps later he was able to pass Scherer for the top spot. Chuck Hossfeld eventually landed in the runner-up position, and both he and Hirschman pulled away from the rest of the field.
The fourth caution of the race came on lap 31 when Tommy Catalano came to a stop in turn three. It was during this yellow flag period that Emerling pitted for right side tires. He was running in seventh place at the time.
Hirschman and Hossfeld continued to dominate the proceedings until the yellow flag flew again on lap 56. Hossfeld took this opportunity to pit for tires under caution, as did many of the other front running cars. Hirschman and Andy Jankowiak elected stay out and were the only two cars remaining in the field that had yet to make a pit stop. This also moved Emerling into third as he was one of the first cars to pit.
Hossfeld’s night almost came to an end just two laps after he made his pit stop. On lap 60, Hossfeld cut down a left rear tire and spun out in turn two. He was able to continue, but Karl Hehr and Rusty Smith crashed in the melee that ensued behind Hossfeld.
When racing resumed Hirschman and Jankowiak paced the field. Hirschman racked up two lap leader bonuses while he dominated the middle portion of the event. He earned $370 for leading lap 37, in memory of Tommy Druar. Hirschman then pocketed $730, in memory of Tony Jankowiak, for leading lap 73. The bonus money was put up by racing supporter, Howie Markel.
Hirschman and Jankowiak finally made their pit stop for tires on lap 76 when Paul Hartwig, Jr. brought out the caution flag. This handed the lead over to Emerling, who was followed by Holmes, Hossfeld, Hanbury and Mike Leaty. Hossfeld passed Holmes for second on lap 80 and then set his sights on Emerling.
The final caution period of the night happened on lap 100 when Tommy Cloce stopped on the track with a flat tire. This set up a ten lap shootout to the finish between Emerling and Hossfeld.
Emerling managed to hold off Hossfeld long enough to take the checkered flag first. Jankowiak made his way back to third by race’s end after restarting fifth with ten laps to go. Hirschman had to settle for fourth, while Hanbury rounded out the top five.
“I knew it was going to be a hard fight battle holding off Chuck,” said Emerling, “at the beginning of the race we had flat right front which made us come in a little early than expected but it worked out for us.”
The win was Emerling’s third of the year on the Race of Champions Modified Tour. He also extended his series points lead over Hossfeld and Hirschman.
“If we didn’t get that left rear flat I think we would’ve been better,” said Hossfeld, “you make adjustments thinking that tire is going to have 50 or 60 laps on it, and then you put a tire on it and changes the balance.”
The Race of Champions Modified Tour returns to Lancaster for the U.S. Open on Sunday, September 27.
Founded in 1959, Lancaster National Speedway is a multi-use facility located on 77 acres just outside of metropolitan Buffalo, NY. The facility features a 1/8-mile drag, a 5/8-mile oval track and hosts several non-motorsports events such as car shows and concerts. For the latest information on Lancaster National Speedway & Dragway check out our all-new website www.lancasternationalspeedway.com. Additional information for racers and fans can be found on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/LancasterSpeedway) and on Twitter (@LancasterSpdwy).
-Lancaster National Speedway Press Release. Photo credit: Joe Grabianowksi/STRN
RACE OF CHAMPIONS MODIFED TOUR
Heat Winners: Daren Scherer, Patrick Emerling, Matt Hirschman
Tommy Druar/Tony Jankowiak Memorial 110 Finish: PATRICK EMERLING, Chuck Hossfeld, Andy Jankowiak, Matt Hirschman, Tony Hanbury, Bobby Holmes, Mike Leaty, Daren Scherer, Nick Pecko, Daryl Lewis, Jr., Brian DeFebo, Rick KLuth, Jimmy Zacharias, Tommy Cloce, Roger Coss, Chris Risdale, Paul Hartwig, Jr., TJ Potrzebowski, Sam Fullone, Karl Hehr, Rusty Smith, Bryan Sherwood, Tommy Catalano, Tyler Rypkema, Dave Wollaer, Bill Mislin DNS: Amy Catalano