Patrick Emerling has competed in a Tour-Type Modified since 2010.  Along the way he has recorded multiple top-five finishes and led a number of laps.  But despite all of those results and close calls, a win was still missing from the Orchard Park, New York driver’s list of accomplishments.


That all changed on Sunday afternoon at Shangri-La II Motor Speedway (NY) in the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour’s third race of 2015.  Emerling’s Leaty Racing machine was fastest out of the box in practice, finished a strong second in his heat race, redrew to start on the outside pole, and jumped out to the early advantage in the 75-lap feature.


For the second half of the race, Emerling had two of the best in the business to keep behind him.  Champions Chuck Hossfeld and Matt Hirschman proved no match for him on this afternoon with the strong performance and the team’s setup for the half-mile concrete oval.  It was also his first win with their new Troyer TA1 chassis, which debuted with a runner-up finish the last time out at Oswego Speedway.


“It was definitely the best car I ever had here,” Emerling told powered by JEGS.  “Ever since we unloaded off the truck this car has been absolutely stellar.  Me and Jan (Leaty) have been working together with the setup and showing up with a faster car.  It has been showing; we’ve been putting so much thought into it and working real hard, especially Jan.”


Equally as rewarding to Emerling was the fact that he had to outrun two drivers that have combined for the last six RoC championships.


“I’ve been trying to catch them for years,” Emerling said.  “They are as good as it gets, so to finally be faster than them it just feels excellent.  I have so much respect for them guys, and to keep out ahead of them feels great.”


Hirschman and Hossfeld were involved in quite the hard fought battle for the second position in the closing laps.  Hossfeld worked Hirschman over in several attempts to gain the position, but the Northampton, Pennsylvania driver successfully held off the Ransomville, New York racer for his best finish of the 2015 season.


“For us it’s been a pretty poor start to the season, probably the worst that I can remember in a long time,” Hirschman stated.  “It’s really a good boost today just to have a good run.  We just haven’t been performing the way we need to.  That’s not to take away anything from the Leaty group with two back to back wins.”


Tony Hanbury backed up a Sportsman Modified victory the previous day at the track to finish fourth.  Jimmy Zacharias overcame a hurt right ankle after a mishap working on his car in the pits prior to the green flag to round out the top-five.


The middle of the race was marred by a multiple-car wreck that began in turn four and concluded past the start-finish line coming to complete lap 30.  Tommy Catalano suffered the hardest hit after advancing into the top 10, and was taken to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.  The Ontario, New York rookie driver in the series posted on social media Sunday night that the doctor said he sustained cracked ribs, a damaged lung, and a concussion as a result of the impact.


Also involved in the incident was the points leader heading into the event, Oswego winner Mike Leaty.  Miraculously, he was able to drive the new LFR chassis he was piloting for car owner Jeff DeMinck away after track crews detached it from some of the other cars involved, and continued on for a top-10 finish.


“My front bumper is perfect, but I was somehow shoved up in the air and on top of people,” Leaty explained about the accident.  “I knew I really didn’t hit anything that hard.  I just kind of pirouetted along tops of racecars and came to a stop.  We had to change the left front brake caliper because the bleeder got knocked off it, so we changed the caliper and away we went again.  My crew did awesome and I made my way back up through.  We got eighth instead of about 25th by going back out.”


Leaty will be back in his team’s Troyer that won Oswego at the next race, his home track at Spencer Speedway (NY), before bringing the LFR out for some more track time at Lancaster National Speedway (NY) at the end of June.


What was most satisfying for Leaty on this day was seeing his teammate Emerling get the victory.  The two have teamed up the last few years to help them prepare their cars for races on both the RoC and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tours.


“I’m just as happy that he won as if I would have won the race,” Leaty said.  “That whole family, they work their butt off.  They have been in this sport for years now.  We maintain their car in our shop, and we put just as much time on that thing as we do with my cars.  He’s a really good kid, and the first one is the hardest to get and I really think you could see a lot more out of him.”


The next race presents an interesting conflict for Emerling and crew.  Over the past four years Emerling has concentrated more on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, but with the Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) and Spencer races falling on the same day they will have to choose one or the other.


“Right now we’re leading the points in the RoC, I believe, so it’s hard to say at this point,” Emerling said. “I’ve never ran for a championship ever.  Since we’re in position here we might have a pretty tough decision to make.”


No matter the decision, at this moment there is a different team and a different group of drivers on top of their game on the Race of Champions Tour.


– By Aaron Creed, Pennsylvania/Central New York Editor  – Twitter: @aaron_creed

– Photo credit:


RoC Modifieds 75 Results    

Shangri-La II Speedway – May 24, 2015        

1              2              07           Patrick Emerling                75

2              3              60           Matt Hirschman                75

3              8              22           Chuck Hossfeld                 75

4              9              21           Tony Hanbury                   75

5              12           71           Jimmy Zacharias                 75

6              5              8              Bobby Holmes                  75

7              4              27           Andy Jankowiak                75

8              18           1L            Mike Leaty                          75

9              10           65           George Skora III                 75

10           23           47           Jim Storace                           75

11           16           34           Rusty Smith                           75

12           29           69           Tommy Cloce                       75

13           21           53           Brian Defebo                         75

14           22           19           Brandon Oltra                      75

15           1              51b         T.J. Potrzebowski                 74

16           20           95           Bryan Sherwood                 74

17           7              42           Nick Pecko                           74

18           6              11           Kirk Totten                           74

19           26           64           Amy Catalano                      73

20           27           1              Chris Risdale                       73

21           19           94           Zack Curren                         66

22           13           32           Tyler Rypkema                    44

23           17           51r          Lee Sharpsteen                   42

24           14           3              Daren Scherer                   30

25           11           66           Austin Kochenash               30

26           15           54           Tommy Catalano                30

27           24           59           Karl Hehr                           29

28           30           17c         Roger Coss                          27

29           28           17           Ken Canestrari                  20

30           25           9x           TJ Zacharias                      16

Emerling Outruns RoC Champions for First Career Victory