STAFFORD SPRINGS, Conn. — Patrick Emerling avoided a late-race crash to take the lead during Friday’s 49th running of the Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway, with a rain storm forcing officials to call the race shortly thereafter.
The race was declared officials after 130 laps, 20 short of the scheduled distance. The result was Emerling’s second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory and his first since a victory at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in 2017.
Matt Swanson set the fast time in qualifying and he brought the field to the green flag and took the early lead with Jon McKennedy, Craig Lutz, Doug Coby and Anthony Nocella making up the top-five. Chuck Hossfeld’s car came to a stop coming out of turn four to bring the caution out on lap five.
The race went back to green on lap seven with Swanson taking command. Lutz took second with Coby, Woody Pitkat, and Nocella making up the top-five as McKennedy slid all the way back to eighth place behind Timmy Solomito and Eric Goodale.
With 25 laps complete, Swanson was still out front with Coby now in second. Lutz was third followed by Pitkat, Nocella, Ryan Preece, McKennedy, Tyler Rypkema, Solomito and Goodale.
Swanson was still comfortably in command of the race with 50 laps complete followed by Coby, Lutz, Pitkat, Preece, McKennedy, Rypkema, Justin Bonsignore, Nocella and Ron Silk. With the leaders navigating lapped traffic at this stage of the race, Coby took the lead from Swanson on lap 52. The race action was slowed on lap-62 for a spin on the backstretch by Gary Byington.
The pits opened on lap 66 and Coby led Swanson, Lutz, Pitkat and Preece down pit road with the remainder of the lead lap cars also coming to pit road. Coby won the race off pit road followed by Swanson, Bonsignore, Preece, McKennedy, Lutz, Pitkat, Goodale, Ronnie Williams, Nocella, and the remainder of the lead lap cars. Coby’s quick pit work enabled him to keep the race lead with Swanson to his outside and Bonsignore and Preece lined up in the second row for the restart.
Swanson shot into the lead on the restart with Coby in second and Bonsignore and Preece side by side for third. Bonsignore took third from Preece and then he took second from Coby just before the caution came back out on lap 72 for an incident in turn four involving the cars of Dave Sapienza, Rypkema, and several others who were able to drive away from the accident scene.
Swanson again took the race lead during the restart, with Bonsignore right on his bumper in second. McKennedy was third in line followed by Williams and the side by side duo of Nocella and Pitkat. Nocella got the better of that duel and took fifth with Silk, Lutz, Andrew Krause, and Kyle Bonsignore making up the remainder of the top-10 behind Pitkat.
Bonsignore and McKennedy swapped second place back and forth between themselves on lap 89 with Swanson continuing to hold the race lead. Williams was up to third with Justin Bonsignore fourth. Silk and Nocella were side by side for fifth place with Lutz in sixth. Positions continued to shuffle as the race was closing in on lap 100 but the action was slowed on lap 96 for a spin in the middle of turns three and four by Emerling.
Swanson took the lead on the lap 102 restart with Silk taking second. Silk then took the lead from Swanson on lap 103 and his move brought Lutz up to second, Preece to third, Nocella to fourth, and Justin Bonsignore fifth as Swanson slid all the way back to the rar of the field. The caution came back out on lap-105 for a multicar accident on the backstretch.
The lap 112 restart saw Preece power his way into the lead with Silk slotting into second. The caution came right back out for an incident in turn two involving Kyle Bonsignore, Rob Summers, Williams, Matt Galko, and Swanson.
Silk shot into the lead on the restart, but behind him Coby spun in turn two and collected the car of J.B. Fortin to bring the caution right back out and put Preece back in the lead for the next restart.
The lap 124 restart saw Preece take the lead on the initial green, but he slid up the track in turn one and allowed Silk to power his way into the lead. Going into turn three, Preece and Silk touched with Silk spinning and collecting several other cars to bring the caution back out.
The crash put Emerling into the lead with Goodale in second, Tommy Catalano in third, Solomito in fourth and Lutz in fifth.
Rain started falling while the race was under caution and eventually the red/checker was shown, making Emerling the winner of the Spring Sizzler.
Patrick Emerling, Eric Goodale, Tommy Catalano, Timmy Solomito, Craig Lutz, Jon McKennedy, Andrew Krause, Chuck Hossfeld, Ronnie Williams, Kyle Bonsignore, Max McLaughlin, Doug Coby, Justin Bonsignore, Ron Silk, Woody Pitkat, J.B. Fortin, Ryan Preece, Anthony Nocella, Matt Galko, Matt Swanson, Ken Heagy, Rob Summers, Gary McDonald, Tyler Rypkema, Dave Sapienza, Melissa Fifield, Gary Byington, Walt Sutcliffe Jr.