Two-time Race of Champion (RoC) Modified champion Patrick Emerling will make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut on Saturday, May 30 at a track he’s quite familiar with. The New York driver will partner with Northeast Modified stalwarts Our Motorsports and Andy Seuss to take on the Bristol Motor Speedway, the site of his only NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win in 2017.
Emerling won three races on his way to the RoC Modified championship last year, while also adding a win in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour All-Star Shootout at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He last raced during the World Series of Asphalt at New Smyrna Speedway, scoring a feature win during the week.
It won’t be Emerling’s first foray into NASCAR’s top three series, having made two NASCAR Truck Series starts at New Hampshire and Texas. The opportunity to run in the Xfinity Series came recently with the pandemic, following behind former Truck Series champion Brett Moffitt, who ran the first four races of the season for Our Motorsports.
“It’s just something that the opportunity just came about, that’s how I’m able to do that. It’s pretty awesome we’re at that level,” Emerling told Speed51. “I’m pretty excited for it.”
“It’s going to be pretty wild. Bristol’s one of my favorite tracks, we won the Modified race there about three years ago or so. It’s going to be pretty exciting.”
Along with a win in 2017, Emerling has finished in the top 10 in all but one of his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts at “The Last Great Coliseum.” His past experience at the half-mile, paired with his familiarity with Seuss and team owner Chris Our, has him feeling good going into his debut.
“We know the track and also it’s not like we wouldn’t know what to expect from the track. The biggest thing is the difference in the car. I think the Modifieds are a little bit faster there,” he said. “it’s going to be interesting because it’s one thing I haven’t done before. Bristol’s a pretty wild place, even in the Modified. Driving the place is just crazy, let alone racing it.”
However, a big wrench will be thrown into the team’s plans for the race. With no practice or qualifying taking place before the event, Emerling’s first laps in a NASCAR Xfinity Stock Car will be when he and the rest of the field take the green flag for the Cheddar’s 300.
“I can’t say I’m not nervous, there’s going to be no practice or qualifying or anything like that for my first time in those cars.”
With the lack of track time in a new discipline for Emerling prior to the green flag, the goal for the 250-lap event is a simple one.
“Since there’s no practice or anything like that, the goal would just be to run a clean race and do as much learning as I can.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51