Patrick Emerling. (Tom Morris Racing Photography)

Emerling Aims For Whelen Modified Tour Title

Patrick Emerling is heading back to his modified, short-track roots full time next year.

While also planning to run a partial NASCAR Xfinity Series slate, Emerling, now based in North Carolina, will return to race full time on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and chase his first championship. 

In a new partnership with car owner Rich Gautreau, the team will race the full Whelen Modified Tour calendar based in Massachusetts at TFR Distribution, with assistance from Rob Fuller.

Emerling is ecstatic to get back to racing modifieds on a full-time basis. He’s been splitting time behind the Xfinity Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Race of Champions Modified Tour and additional events the last two years. 

“It’s all coming together quickly and I’m excited to get the new season rolling in just over a month down in Florida,” Emerling said. “We’ve been running Modified events on and off the last few years and focusing on helping get the Emerling-Gase Xfinity program off the ground. We’ve built a great foundation there and have a bright future.

“I’ll still be in and around the Xfinity Series throughout 2024, but the opportunity to go after the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship is one I couldn’t pass up. We came close to winning the title with our family operation a few years ago and we’re going back there hoping to complete some unfinished business.”

Gautreau, who lives on the West Coast, is a former SK Modified competitor at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway and has been around racing for many years. The team will also welcome crew chief Dale Headquist. 

Headquist was the crew chief for Jon McKennedy when the No. 79 team, owned by Tim Lepine, won the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title in 2022.

Emerling and Headquist had spoken from time-to-time over the years, but this opportunity to pin them working together has both of them excited.

“I definitely have to thank Rich for giving me the opportunity in some great equipment,” Emerling said. “We have the potential to go out there and win some races. Worrying about the championship battle would come later in the year… we want to come out of the gates with consistent finishes in the top-five and continue to build towards even greater heights.

“Winning races and a shot at the title is certainly on our list of goals going into the new year. Racing on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the competition is second-to-none. The quality of cars, drivers and teams out there is incredible.”