Patrick Emerling completed the season sweep Sunday evening at Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway when the Orchard Park driver emerged victorious in the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour 125, the concluding event of Lancaster’s 28th annual U.S. Open Weekend.
With Sunday’s win, Emerling won all four ROC Modified events that were staged at the Gunnville Road oval in 2016. After making a pit stop on Sunday for tires on lap 59, Emerling cruised back up through the field to reach second by lap 100. The only driver ahead of him at that point was his Leaty Motorsports teammate Mike Leaty.
Over the remaining distance Emerling tracked Leaty down, finally blowing by as the pair exited the fourth turn on lap 117. Matt Hirschman would also go by Leaty a lap later to gain second. Emerling prevailed at the checkers by five car lengths over Hirschman, with Leaty third.
Emerling was absolutely excited in Victory Lane as he celebrated his 2016 ROC Modified Lancaster season sweep.
“This is awesome,” said Emerling. “This is the stuff I used to dream about. When I first started out in Sportsman I never even dreamed of winning all four ROC races at Lancaster. Words just can’t describe how good I feel right now.”
In other U.S. Open competition, Chuck Hossfeld won a caution plagued Sportsman 75 Saturday in which the yellow flag flew a whopping 17 times. There were short periods of exciting racing but they were few and far between among all the caution periods.
On a lap 39 restart, 2016 Lancaster Sportsman champion and race leader Jake Lyon and second-place running Tommy Catalano had slight contact in Turn Two with Lyon spinning and Catalano being banished to the back of the field by track officials for his part in the incident. Under that caution, third-place runner Hossfeld assumed the top spot and was never headed again despite challenges from first George Skora III and then John Barber over the remaining 36 laps. Barber finished second while Catalano made an impressive drive back through the field to place third.
With the victory Hossfeld jumped into a four-way tie for the most career U.S. Open wins with six. He has now amassed five Modified and one Sportsman U.S. Open triumph in his long career. Kirk Rutherford, Sportsman; Andy Jankowiak, Sportsman/Street Stocks and Jeremy Haudricourt (Legend Cars) also have enjoyed six career U.S. Open victories.
While in the lead Saturday, Hossfeld got plenty of race restart practice due to all the caution periods.
“Yeah, I had to have good restarts,” said Hossfeld. “That’s important in any racing but when you have that many restarts, it’s important not to blow it on one of those.
“I have to thank my guys because we were shorthanded today and I have to especially thank Jerry Gradl Jr. We borrowed his motor. This car is just an older car we have and we put his motor in the car that’s just been sitting around for the last eight or nine years and it worked out. Next year if we do this we’re going to revamp and build a stronger car and put a little more effort into it.
“It feels good to tie the all-time U.S. Open win record and hopefully if it continues like this we can break that record.”
A banner field of 40 Sportsman came to Lancaster Saturday requiring six heat races and two consolation racers to trim the field to the 28-car Sportsman 75 starting field.
In Sunday’s Late Model 30-lapper, Bobby Weber appeared to win the race but was disqualified in post-race tech for an illegal spacer. Weber battled Dave Heitzhaus at the drop of the green. Heitzhaus immediately spun in Turn Two. Weber grabbed the top spot and held it over the next several laps as Heitzhaus worked his way back through the field gaining second on lap 22. Weber crossed the finish line first but the tech infraction handed the win to Heitzhaus.
The ROC Big 10 Super Stock race Saturday had a bizarre twist with just five laps remaining in the 28-car, 30-lap event. While under caution, second-place runner Tom Krawczyk plowed into the side of leader Jake Wylie, forcing Wylie into the infield. Wylie was done for the night with rear end damage and Krawczyk was ejected from the race by ROC race director Joe Skotnicki for the contact. Mike Nichols inherited the lead and went on to victory over Bill Frisbie Jr.
Also Sunday, Rich Sharpe dove under Trevor Petit in Turn 4 on lap three of the 28-car, 35-lap Street Stock affair to take the lead from his third-place starting assignment and proceed to the checkered flag over 2016 Lancaster Street Stock champion Dave Wilson Jr. Petit was third.
It was Sharpe’s second career U.S. Open Street Stock triumph.
Jim Bryant suffered a spectacular wreck on lap 22 hitting the implement tire protected front stretch infield pit wall head-on, causing his car to execute an airborne backflip onto the roof. On the restart Rob Pocobello nailed the third turn wall with his car also flipping onto its side. Neither driver was injured.
Lancaster’s 2016 4-Cylinder season point champion Kevin Bainbridge scored his eighth Lancaster win of the season Saturday when he sped through the middle of a tight pack of cars on lap nine of the 25-lap joust that included leader Tim Durfy and a lapped car to gain the lead in spectacular fashion. He went the distance from there taking the checkered flag ahead of Jamie Woods.
Andy Nye scored a big win Saturday in the 25-lap NYPA TQ Midget portion of the U.S. Open leading every lap to outdistance Bobby Holmes.
The Lancaster racing community is mourning the loss of stock car tech inspector Paul Ressler who died this past week at the age of 49.
Rick Ortwein Jr., raced the late Rick Ortwein Sr.’s No. 58 Street Stock Sunday in honor of Ortwein Sr., who died suddenly earlier this month.
This 2016 U.S. Open drew spectacular car counts. A total of 110 cars participated in the four division program on Saturday with 74 capping the three division action on Sunday.