In a field filled with Modified champions, it was 2020 Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series champion Patrick Emerling who had the final word Tuesday night at New Smyrna Speedway. The Orchard Park, New York driver survived a late restart with three laps to go to win the 35-lap feature and claim his third career World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing victory.
Emerling’s win came one night after his involvement in a multi-car crash that eliminated him from contention.
“We had a good car to do it. We set fast time today and had a little bit of confidence there,” Emerling said on the NBC Trackpass broadcast. “I knew we had the car to do it. Last night was pretty unfortunate to us. We were decent, good enough to stay in the top five and lead some laps last night but we got taken out.”
Emerling’s victory ended a spell of bad luck that had haunted him since arriving in Florida last week.
“Man, we’ve had a lot of stuff go wrong so far at Speedweeks. I had the primary car lose an engine and we pulled out the backup car. Our lift gate stopped working. We had to miss practice because the lift gate stuck on the trailer and we had to fix that. So far, it’s just been a lot of things go wrong, but it’s good to have one thing go right for once.”
Jon McKennedy and Matt Hirschman led the field of 36 Tour-type Modifieds to the green flag, with McKennedy gaining the early advantage. As McKennedy began losing the handling on his No. 7NY Modified, Hirschman pounced and took away the lead for the first time on lap 10.
Following a caution on lap 15, Goodale lined up to Hirschman’s inside and took advantage of the opportunity. After inching out in front of Hirschman on lap 16, Goodale completed the pass one lap later.
For the second consecutive night, the Tour-type Modified feature included a multi-car accident that eliminated contenders on lap 20. Six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby and former Stafford Speedway SK Light champion Marcello Rufrano both suffered significant damage in the accident.
“Just a bunch of animals trying to win everything we can in a short feature,” Coby said. “Some guys just started to go away with the handling there. About halfway through the race, Jimmy [Blewett] was really loose and couldn’t go on the outside. Ryan [Preece] looked really tight on the bottom, so he was trying to arc his entry quite a bit and stay on the bottom. I think he thought he could get the 16 (Ronnie Silk) and the 50 (Ronnie Williams). He did a really wide arc into three and four to try to make a move. I gave him the room in front of me, but then I got hit from the back, got shoved into him, got crossed up, tried to save it and got hit again because nobody lifts for anybody. That’s asphalt Modified racing here when there’s no rules and no consequences other than wrecked race cars and people getting hurt.”
On the ensuing restart, Emerling took over the lead from Goodale for the first time on lap 22. He kept his No. 07 Modified out in front of the field until a late caution set up a three-lap shootout for the win.
After seeing his race end early in a multi-car crash on Monday night, Goodale prevailed in a late-race battle with Hirschman to claim the runner-up spot.
“I was just trying too hard,” Goodale said of the last restart. “I spun the tires a little bit there. I still had a chance at him in one and two, but the 07 (Emerling) was just a little better late in the race there. He just had a little bit better drive on exit. Me and Patrick got into [the accident] yesterday, so I’m glad for him to come back and get the win. It just sucks. I wanted it more for my team than myself. We’ve got a lot of speed in this thing, so I’m not going to let it slip the rest of the week.”
NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Preece finished fourth, while Monday night’s Tour-type Modified winner Craig Lutz completed the top five.
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-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51 Director of Content – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51 / Will Bellamy
Tour-type Modifieds Unofficial Results
February 9, 2021 – New Smyrna Speedway (FL)
|19||17K||Danny Knoll, Jr.||26|
|34||9||Tom Martino, Jr.||29|