In what could be deemed the understatement of the year, Patrick Emerling says that the track layout at Holland Motorsports Complex suits his driving style. Based on his success on the asphalt at the Southern Tier oval this July, that statement is obvious to anyone who follows the local auto racing scene.
Just three weeks after winning Holland’s biggest race of the season, the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour “Thunder in The Hills” 100 on July 9, Emerling overcame a midrace battle with Kirk Totten to easily claim the checkered flag Saturday in the NASCAR Pro Modified/Sportsman 17th annual George Decker Memorial 75.
Emerling, who started eighth in the strong 22-car field, passed Totten with 46 laps remaining and took it from there, to record his second career Decker victory.
“Holland is my favorite track and my driving style fits this track very well,” said Emerling. “We had a really good car and it was really hooked up to the track tonight. The track came to us and we were able to get the run on Totten for the lead and were able to hang on to it.”
While Emerling’s car got stronger as the race wore on, it was the opposite for Totten, who was driving a brand new car Saturday.
“The car got away from us late,” said Totten. “We had a good car and it is a good finish for us with this new car. It was only our first race with it this year so finishing second was a good feat for us.”
Neal Dietz Jr. placed third and thanked car owner, Paul Graff, for the opportunity to drive his car. Dietz also was awarded the McCool Paint Workz Best Appearing Car Award over the other entries in the Decker.
Also at Holland Saturday, Tommy Catalano, who is best known for his success in the NASCAR Pro Modified/Sportsman type cars, put another nice feather in his racing victory cap when he captured the NYPA TQ Midget Jerry Gradl Sr. Memorial Mini-Indy 50.
Catalano started eighth in the 20-car field and took the lead from brothers Andy and Shawn Nye on lap 32 and never looked back. Eventually the top four was rounded out by Dave Wollaber, Andy Nye and Shawn Nye. Catalano’s triumph was his first career Holland NYPA victory.
Catalano was doing double duty at Holland Saturday and was running a strong third in the Decker before being forced to the pits late in the race with a flat right front tire. He finished 11th.
Susice catching on
Elsewhere this past weekend, multi-time champion Jared Zimbardi captured the Patriot Sprint Tour 25-lap A-Main Friday evening at Ransomville Speedway. While Zimbardi has rightly garnered plenty of accolades for his great Sprint Car performance over many years, also noteworthy was the continued progress of Friday’s second place finisher, Ryan Susice.
Usually a fine set of finishes can say a great deal about how well a driver is progressing either when first beginning a careers or when switching to a new division or type of race car. Such is the case with Susice who, after years of having built a successful racing resume in dirt track Sportsman and Modified competition, has now begun to turn heads in his new Sprint Car racing endeavor.
Proof of Susice’s newfound Sprint Car racing prowess can be derived from his 2016 Sprint Car A-Main results. He now has two second-place finishes this year in the Patriot Spring Tour appearances at Ransomville. Susice also
“After I had a hard-fought race for the lead this past Friday with Derek Jonathan and Steve Collins, I got the lead and eventually stretched my lead,” said Susice, who is Ransomville’s defending DIRT.car 358 Modified champion. “With nine laps or so to go, I had a full straightaway lead but then I caught lapped traffic. I think I got way too cautious with the lapped traffic and Jared caught me. He had no problem getting through the lapped traffic to get the lead from me and then he was gone.
“I did post the fastest lap of any driver in the 25-lap A-Main, a 15.9 (seconds) so I was fast enough to win.”
Susice has raced in 15 Sprint Car events over the last two seasons. After a less-than-spectacular debut season in 2015, Susice has made magnificent strides in five Sprint Car events in 2016. He won his first Sprint Car A-Main earlier this season when he captured the Southern Ontario Sprint event at Humberstone Speedway.
In other 2016 Sprint Car A-Main results, he has also finished second in both Patriot stops at Ransomville as well as collecting a sixth place at Merrittville Speedway with the Empire Super Sprints and a seventh-place effort in an open-competition event at Ohsweken Speedway in Ontario.
“I’ve been racing part time in the Sprint Cars since last season,” said Susice. “I race with different sanctioning bodies depending on who is coming close to my Ransomville hometown base. Last season I ran about eight or nine races and only finished three or four. I had major motor problems all last year.
“For this season, I got a brand new motor built by Gary Leitch and it’s been great.”
Susice says that there is not much in common in comparing driving styles of Sportsman and Modifieds with that of the open-wheel, open-cockpit, winged Sprint Cars.
“Going from Sportsman and Modifieds to Sprint Cars is like going from NASCAR to Formula 1,” said Susice.
“In Sprint Cars you have to use a different driving style where you are on the hammer all the time, Susice said. “You have to use more finesse when passing cars in the Sprint Cars.”