LANCASTER, N.Y. (September 25, 2016) – Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, N.Y. completed a season sweep of the Race of Champions Modified Series events at Lancaster National Speedway with his win in the 28th annual U.S. Open 125 on Sunday afternoon.
Emerling passed teammate Mike Leaty with eight laps to go to secure his first career U.S. Open win. It was his fourth Modified win at Lancaster in 2016 as he won the Queen City Clash 75, Ol’ Boy Cup 60 and the Tommy Druar/Tony Jankowiak Memorial 110 earlier this season.
In other action on day three of the 28th annual U.S. Open weekend, Dave Heitzhaus of Strykersville, N.Y. won the 30-lap X-Press Signs Late Model feature presented by Abbott Rd Pizza. Rich Sharpe of Lancaster, N.Y. was victorious in the 35-lap Advance Auto Parts Street Stock feature.
A field of 26 Race of Champions took the green flag in Lancaster’s biggest and longest race of the season. Daryl Lewis, Jr. and Mike Leaty started on the front row with Lewis taking the lead on the initial lap of the race.
Leaty ran second to Lewis throughout the opening laps of the race, but he gave up the track position on lap 27 to pit for a new right rear tire under caution.
The pit stop by Leaty moved Chuck Hossfeld to second place. The five-time U.S. Open winner started fourth in the field. Hossfeld didn’t waste any time when the green flag waved again as he passed Lewis for the lead on lap 32.
Hossfeld controlled the race through a long green flag run that took the race up to lap 55. The yellow flag waved for the fourth time when Andy Lewis spun out in turn one to halt the race after 24 consecutive green flag laps. That signaled pit stops for the majority of the field with most of the top ten cars coming in to pit.
Emerling won the race off pit road while Hossfeld had a much longer stop as the crew checked on a possible engine issue.
Tyler Rypkema took over the race lead as he stayed out. Rypkema was followed by Bryan Sherwood, Lee Sharpsteen, Chris Ridsdale and Mike Leaty.
With Leaty already making his pit stop, he quickly worked his way to the front of the field. He moved back into the runner-up position on lap 76.
Emerling also worked his way back to the front as he led the charge of cars that pitted on lap 59. By lap 88 he was up to third behind Rypkema and Leaty.
Leaty edged Rypkema at the start/finish line for the lead on lap 100 just before the yellow flag came out again, this time for a crash by Andy Jankowiak. Emerling moved past Rypkema for second when the race resumed, putting the teammates in the top two spots.
Defending U.S. Open winner, Matt Hirschman, had a relatively quiet day as he started 12th and wasn’t much of a factor early on in the race. He finally made his presence felt during the final 20 laps. The four-time U.S. Open winner moved into the top five around lap 104. He then landed in third place just six laps later.
On lap 117, Emerling worked underneath his teammate, Leaty, going through turns 1 and 2 to take over the lead. Two laps later Hirschman was able to pass Leaty for second.
Hirschman tried to chase down Emerling in the closing laps, but he was unable to close on the leader. Emerling crossed the finish line first for his first U.S. Open win and seventh win of the season on the Race of Champions Modified Series trail in 2016.
Hirschman settled for second in his first start of the year at Lancaster. Leaty finished third followed by Hossfeld and George Skora III. Rypkema fell to sixth after leading much of the second half of the race. Erick Rudolph made his first asphalt Modified start in two years in the Booker Motorsports #40 and finished seventh. Daryl Lewis, Jr., Daren Scherer and T.J. Potrzebowski completed the top ten.
Dave Heitzhaus was awarded the X-Press Signs Late Model feature win after unofficial winner Bobby Weber was disqualified in post-race inspection. Heitzhaus lined up second alongside Weber at the start of the 30-lap main event, but he spun out in turn one just after completing the first lap of the race.
Heitzhaus worked his way back through the field to edge Eldon King III for second place by race’s end. He earned his fourth career U.S. Open win with three previous wins in the Late Model Pro Stocks. King was credited with second place. Tommy Catalano, Terry Weldy and Nick Crassi completed the top five.
Rich Sharpe won the Advance Auto Parts Street Stock U.S. Open feature for the second time in three years. Sharpe started third and passed Trevor Pettit on the race’s third lap to secure the lead for good.
Sharpe had to hold off 2016 track champion, Dave Wilson, in the closing laps to earn the victory. Wilson finished second with Pettit in third. Ken Maltby and Mark Hoch completed the top five. A total of 32 cars attempted to qualify for the 28-car starting field.
A scary incident took place on lap 22 when Jim Bryant hit the end of the inside retaining wall on the front straightaway. Bryant’s car hit the tire that protects the end of the wall to send it airborne. The car did a flip in the air before landing on its roof. Thankfully Byrant walked away from the accident.
A total of 184 race cars took part in the 28th annual U.S. Open weekend. While wet weather hampered Friday night’s practice session, there was gorgeous sunny conditions for racing on Saturday and Sunday. The parking lot was full both days with over 140 campers in the Camping World Village.
Track president Tim Packman announced the 2017 stock car season at Lancaster will open on Saturday, April 22. The Race of Champions Modified Series will once again have four dates at Lancaster with the Queen City Clash on Saturday, April 29, the third annual Ol’ Boy Cup 60 on Thursday, June 29, the 28th annual Tommy Druar/Tony Jankowiak Memorial 110 on Saturday, August 19 and the 29th annual U.S. Open weekend September 22-24.
Packman also announced that the International Supermodified Association (ISMA) will return to Lancaster on Saturday, June 3. The exciting winged ISMA Supermodifieds haven’t raced at the facility since 2003. The ISMA series hosted its first ever race at Lancaster back in 1974.
The U.S. Open marks the end of the 2016 stock car season at Lancaster National Speedway. The season awards banquet will be held on Saturday, November 12 at the Variety Club Banquet Hall on Broadway in Lancaster.
The final event of the year Lancaster will be the season finale for the Franco’s Pizza IHRA Drag Racing program this Friday, September 30.
RACE OF CHAMPIONS MODIFIED SERIES
Heat Winners: Patrick Emerling, Chuck Hossfeld, Daren Scherer
U.S. Open 125 Finish: PATRICK EMERLING, Matt Hirschman, Mike Leaty, Chuck Hossfeld, George Skora III, Tyler Rypkema, Erick Rudolph, Daryl Lewis, Jr., Daren Scherer, T.J. Potrzebowski, Cam Barber, Tommy Catalano, Amy Catalano, Andy Lewis, Matt Alix, Karl Hehr, Kirk Totten, Calvin Carroll, Tommy Rought, Lee Sharpsteen, Jeff Hamman, Bryan Sherwood, Chris Ridsdale, Andy Jankowiak, Rusty Smith, Keith Flanigan
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS STREET STOCKS
Heat Winners: Brian Hoffman, Mark Hoch, Rich Sharpe, Jim Bryant
Consi Winner: Eric Brown
Feature: RICH SHARPE, Dave Wilson, Trevor Pettit, Ken Maltby, Mark Hoch, Zach Myers, Eric Brown, Kris Hamman, Nik Welshans, Tim Welshans, Keith Flanigan, Andy Cryan, Lou Carbone, Don Sitarski, Jarrod Brown, Matt Fleming, Jim Mallaber, Heather Weber, Gary Bartella, Alex Morris, Rick Ortwein, Jr., Justin Myers, Dave Vina, Rob Pocobello, Brian Hoffman, Jim Bryant, Tommy Wentland DNS: Jerry Kosmowski DNQ: Ed Culliton, Jeff Whalen, Anton Anderson, Mike Scott
X-PRESS SIGNS LATE MODELS PRESENTED BY ABBOTT RD PIZZA
Heat Winners: Bobby Weber, Dave Rigan
Feature: DAVE HEITZHAUS, Eldon King III, Tommy Catalano, Terry Weldy, Nick Crassi, Dave Whittaker, Bill Osborn, Bob Minacappelli, Jeff Ruddy, Ron Richter, Frank Batista, Jr., Scott Nurmi, Sam Fullone, Ron Nurmi DQ: Bobby Weber DNS: Dave Rigan