For only the second time in tour history and the first time since 2005, Race of Champions (RoC) Asphalt Modified Tour teams are setting their navigation systems for Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie Speedway. It will be the second of three visits by the RoC to the Keystone State for the 2016 season, a season that has seen a break away at the top of the point standings with two-time tour champion Chuck Hossfeld leading Patrick Emerling by 12 points after the season’s first five events. The upcoming outing to Lake Erie will present a unique challenge for both championship contenders and the rest of the RoC field.
Hossfeld has competed at Lake Erie twice before in a Tour-type Modified, but they were both over a decade ago in 2003 and 2004 while driving for Bob Garbarino on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
“From what I remember it’s a heck of a facility,” Hossfeld told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “It was nice, new, and clean when I went there. It’s one of the nicest short tracks we have around. It’s got to be up in the top tier of facilities.”
Patrick Emerling has also competed at Lake Erie on more than one occasion, but unlike Hossfeld he has not competed in a Modified at the 4/10 mile oval.
“It’s the first time racing Modifieds. I did run a Late Model and Legend Car there before a couple of years ago,” said Emerling.
Despite this lack of experience, Emerling believes he has learned enough to help give him an edge on a field that has little experience at the facility.
“It’s a whole new playing field with a new track,” he said. “There’s a lot of questions with setup as far as the cars are concerned and driving. I think I have an idea with what the car would need and how to drive the place. I suspect the place is going to be pretty competitive.”
Both drivers have experienced both highs and lows during the season thus far. For Emerling two wins back to back at Oswego and Lancaster and a second at Chemung have the Orchard Park, New York driver feeling very content with where they are going into the weekend.
Hossfeld however is even more vocal about his confidence, especially coming off a win at Chemung and a podium at Spencer. The confidence comes with a slight hint of eagerness to take advantage of the momentum while it lasts.
“I know how good we are going to be. I’ve been racing long enough to know when these cycles happen. I know how everything is clicking and what kind of potential we have,” Hossfeld explained. “We didn’t get to show it at Oswego, we had a really fast car, but there was a crash on lap 3 that took us out. Then we had a really strong run at Lancaster, we finished second, and Spencer we wound up third.”
Saturday’s return to Lake Erie will also wrap a busy late-Spring stretch for the RoC with five races over consecutive weeks.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, LI); Twitter – @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com/MoJo Photos