Championship Contender Part Of Group Of Teams Unsure Of Plans With Whelen Modified Tour For 2022

Patrick Emerling after winning the NAPA Spring Sizzler at Stafford in April (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – Today at Stafford Speedway Patrick Emerling will go looking to win his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship in the NAPA Fall Final 150.

Emerling goes into the season ending event second in the standings, 16 points behind two-time series champion Justin Bonsignore. Emerling and Bonsignore are the only two drivers in contention for the title.

Despite having a championship caliber year, Emerling, of Orchard Park, N.Y, is unsure if he’ll be back with the Whelen Modified Tour full-time in 2022 with his family owned operation.

“I don’t have anything going for next year,” Emerling said Saturday. “I don’t have any plans yet. I have nothing set in stone. … Obviously we’re always going to be racing Modifieds, but to what extent we’re doing it next year or where we’re doing it we just don’t know.”

Emerling’s family owned team is part of a group of current full-time Whelen Modified Tour teams that could be shutting down, leaving the series or cutting back to part-time schedules for the 2022 season. It’s not a great sign for the the Whelen Modified Tour, which will finish 2021 with – by far – the division’s lowest average season-long car count in the 37-year history of the series.

There’s a possibility that four of the seven teams that won races on the Whelen Modified Tour in 2021 could be gone from the series or cutting back to part-time schedules for the 2022 season.

Emerling has three victories this year and top-10 finishes in 10 of 13 events. He has made at least five starts on the Whelen Modified Tour every year since 2011. He ran full-time from 2011 to 2015. After the 2015 season he cut back to part-time schedules in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

He returned to full-time competition in 2019. He said the travel for his team from Western, N.Y. is always a factor in his decisions making process.

“It’s tough coming from my neck of the woods,” Emerling said. “You can kind of do it for a couple years and sometimes you’ve got to give everyone a break. There’s nothing set in stone.”

Through the first 13 events of the season the Whelen Modified Tour has averaged 25.3 cars per event. If all 27 cars on the entry list at Stafford start the NAPA Fall Final 150 the series will close the season with an average car count of 25.4 per event. Before this year the lowest average car count for a season was 27.4 in 2017. Last year the series averaged 28.6 cars per event.

In comparison the Tri-Track Open Modified Series had an averaging starting field of 27.4 cars over five events in 2021 and sent home non-qualified cars from four of five events. The Whelen Modified Tour started all cars that showed up for events in 2021. The four Open 80 Modified events at Stafford Speedway in 2021 averaged 26 cars per event.

Thirteen teams have started all 13 events this year on the Whelen Modified Tour schedule.

The Russell Goodale owned No. 46 team recently announced they were shutting down. The team ran the first nine events of the season with driver Craig Lutz. The team recorded top-five finishes in the standings in 2018, 2019 and 2020 with Lutz.

The Catalano family owned operation, which had been running full-time with the series with driver Tommy Catalano, has not participated in the last two events and is not on the entry list at Stafford.

Kevin Stuart Motorsports will part ways with driver Ron Silk following Saturday’s event. Silk sits third in the series standings before Saturday’s race. Team owner Kevin Stuart said Saturday he’s unsure at this point what the future holds for his team.

KLM Motorsports owner Mike Murphy said Saturday the plans for his team for the 2022 season are still in the works. Austin Beers has started the last three events for the team and is in the car for today’s race at Stafford. Beers is the third driver for the team this year, Rob Summers started the season in the car and was replaced after two events by Timmy Solomito, who made seven starts for the team.

Multiple sources have indicated that six-time Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby could be shutting down his No. 10 Doug Coby Racing team and driving for another organization in 2022. Coby, who missed an event this year to compete with the Camping World SRX Series at Stafford on June 12, is currently sixth in the series standings and has two wins this year. He started Doug Coby Racing prior to the 2020 season after his longtime team owner Mike Smeriglio III retired from the sport. Coby finished third in the series standings with one win in 2020.

It’s unclear what the future holds for the TS Haulers team with driver Ryan Preece following the passing of team owner Eddie Partridge on Sept. 11. The team has run seven of 13 events this year.

Emerling, Preece, Coby and Silk represent four of the seven teams that recorded victories with the series in 2021. Bonsignore (one win), Eric Goodale (one win) and Matt Hirschman also have wins this year. Hirschman runs part-time with the series and made three starts in 2021.


  1. Some pretty interesting statistics. The one that jumps out at me is; “Thirteen teams have started all 13 events this year on the Whelen Modified Tour schedule”. 13 full time teams that’s it. If the average car count over the 13 events is 25.3 then there are 12.3 part time teams.

    Then we have this statement; “There’s a possibility that four of the seven teams that won races on the Whelen Modified Tour in 2021 could be gone or cutting back to part-time for the 2022 season“. Potentially we now have 9 full time teams and maybe less for 2022.

    When you crunch the numbers, the WMT is in trouble and what is Jimmy Wilson and NASCAR doing about it?

    TTOMS, Stafford opens and Thompson outlaw mods have positioned themselves with rules that welcome WMT teams requiring no additional costs and less travel resulting in cost savings. This proactive approach will reap benefits for those looking for an alternative to the WMT.

  2. Great article, The Tour hit an Iceberg called Covid-19 in 2020 , In 2021 with things still Uncertain , Track Owner’s didn’t want to take on ADDED RISK by having a Nascar TOUR RACE with the upfront purses payment’s and FEES…. They scheduled races FAR & WIDE outside of the usually close Confines and OLD stomping grounds, I mean Like Thompson used to have 4 Races on the Schedule for years and years , Stafford had 3 , and sometimes 4 races a year also… Seekonk … 1 Monadnock 1 ….NHIS 2 Riverhead 2 or 3 …. The money you spend is outrageous .. It was Rumored that MS3 Coby’s Owner spent 2 Million Dollars in His last 3 Season’s on the Tour….!!!!!! Add in the long Travel costs , Fuel, Hotels, Food, Pit Passes , Tires, Race Fuel at $12.75 a Gallon not to Mention the Cost of the Big Rigs , Cars, Motor’s. Shocks. Wheels, Pit Carts. Parts… ETC ETC People just can’t AFFORD the Tour Unless your a Multi Millionaire as many of the OWNER’S were . They are falling away like the Leaves in my front yard … It’s SAD , I Love the Tour and all the History that goes with it, But Unless your Super Rich you just can’t keep up like the Old days … NO Money No CHANCE to compete with them….. Modifieds will find their way with the OPEN SHOWS and Tri-Track & MRS & Fast 5. Outlaw Shows etc… Mods will regroup and recover and we will have plenty of SHOWS to watch in 2022….

  3. OK I’m game. I’ll play devil’s advocate again for to counter the enthusiasm for the “GRAVE DIGGERS”.
    Mr. Courchesnes is busy now but maybe has the time to look down at the crowd at Stafford. Then look back at all the campers. What-a-yah see? Looks to me like enthusiasm so let’s take that as a starting point.
    What is the first thing you need for a business? It all starts with a marketable product and a market to sell it to. Sure it’s not twenty years ago but by today’s standard that crowd like a few this year for NWMT races has been darn good. That’s not including the views via streaming services.
    Teams come and go every year and this is perhaps more of a worry but not by much.

    Ryan Preece- a part timer and if he’s successful he shouldn’t be here anyway. Connie Partridge has three businesses she is over seeing in the wake of her husbands death and the 6ny is at the bottom of her list of priorities for sure. Doesn’t mean Preece won’t find a way to compete on the NWMT but he is not the guy the series should be depending on.
    Coby-unclear. Is that going to another NWMT of competing in some other series.
    Silk- the HYR team may be competing in NWMT events at least part time so Silk may not be lost to the tour.
    Kevin Stuart Motorsports- we don’t know if they will be back or not do we?
    Catalano-his Facebook entry made it sound like they were sick of fixing the car and taking a break as opposed to quitting. If that’s changed we’ll see.
    Emerling-seriously along with Catalano why are these guys commuting ungodly distances. We’re lucky for the time we’ve had them and one or both would likely be in events part time.
    Russell Goodale shuts down a loss but old news. Interestingly Lutz has found a way to compete even after losing the ride.

    The NWMT races are more popular then Tri Track or any other open just look at the crowds. Tri Track doesn’t have any more full time drivers then the NWMT. Tri Track is not the NWMT, doesn’t have the same business model and doesn’t want to. They do what they do very well but will never be a replacement for the NWMT.
    So how does the NWMT change to compete with changing trends in racing. How about these suggestions?
    -the trend is opens and both Tri Track and the NWMT depend on part timers to fill out fields. Don’t fight the trend NWMT embrace it. Go to an open format. You can have your points race but front load and market as big a purse possible.
    -update your rules and accommodate all engines. Strike that encourage rules that equalize all engines and be a leader in that. The spec you made a ton of money on but it’s over. Don’t die sticking by that engine just to milk out the last few bucks and go down with the ship.
    -don’t do anything on having races far and wide it’s great the way it is. However make the focus an open format and the fields will fill out nicely with part timers. Not just part timers but big name part timers.
    -forget the focus on tracks promoting events. If they want to fine but if not rent the track and promote them yourselves.
    -stop the insane low price for streaming NWMT races. If you were trying to kill competing services it didn’t work. Charge what the market will allow.

    It’s a great product with clearly a market as we see time after time. All you have to do is change with the times.

  4. Just Me - The Original says

    My predictions:
    #7NY – Driver change – Mike Christopher
    #10 Closes shop Coby to the 85
    #1 Ed Harvey closes shop
    McKennedy to his own car #79 and Rob Fuller crew chief
    Phil Moran to the #16 team
    Ok, what’s your predictions????

  5. MORE DOOM AND GLOOM WHAT A SHOCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. And yes at the last race of the year you can go around poll every single team and u will get 99% the same answer, I dont Know Because these teams are NOT HENDRICK, GIBBS, STEWART HASS, or Penske, they run small time operations and after a season fulll of wrecks and $$$ spent they actually dont know, Not SAYING there are No issues and other options to run races but if anyone and i see lots do think Tri Track is soooooooooooo much a better option, Good luck!!!

  7. Coby has already signed up with Mayhew for 2022. Mayhew, Coby and Moran are all returning together. Now, could they sign on with another owner. I suppose.

    7NY. I could see a change there but young Mike has never raced on most of the tour tracks. A huge learning curve. If Jon does not return I see a veteran driver there while they continue to bring Mike along in other events.

    The Silk 16 is a plus one already.

    The #1 is so close. Pit stops have been their bugaboo. That is fixable though. The speed is there. I think they are back but some changes could be in order.

    The 85 will be interesting to watch. That is a good ride and opportunities will be there. Lutz and Suess come to mind.

    Catalano ran out of cars and equipment. Wrecked out of his last three races. He announced after Oswego he would miss some time. Had he not wrecked or gotten wrecked so much he had planned on doing the full schedule.

    Outside of Florida, the next race is seven months away. A million things can happen in seven months.

  8. Stephen J Jesus says

    The shine has gone of off the NASCAR bubble. NASCAR has a dedicated channel on satellite that never mentions the modified tour. The reason can only be that they couldn’t care less about the Whelen tour. Speaks loads about their lack of support.
    Anyone in their right mind can smell the rat.

  9. So if I am a track operator and hear this,do I bother signing the Tour up for a race and my facility.Only time will tell.

  10. It will be interesting to see if Stafford has a WMT race in 2022.

  11. Just me, I was thinking coby goes to the 85 and brings Moran with him. Also think there’s a chanice MCJ ends up in the 7, but is he ready? A few prominent teams cut back to part time, but besides Coby don’t see any closing.

  12. I’m with just me the original , a couple of your predictions are what I’ve been hearing so I’m guessing you have some pretty reliable info

  13. Just Me - The Original says

    Emerling team bought the #1 (Woody’s) hauler and I’m hearing that Eddy Harvey is done

  14. My prediction would be the 51 is back pretty much unchanged.
    Make predictions in the wake of some really specific predictions from the most credible contributor to the forum and endorsed by another? Good luck with that.
    Coby to the 85 is a slam dunk in every sense for NWMT world. Coby did fine on his own but combining Coby, the resources he brings personally, Mayhew with a very good Kevin Stuart Motorsports team would be an instant powerhouse that would want for nothing.
    Mike Christopher to the 7ny may be a perfect match were it to come to be. In our Pick-ems we frequently picked the 7ny mainly because of the owner’s and drivers reputations but in the end the results did not measure up to the reps.. No wins and four top fives for that duo seems a bit light doesn’t it? Mike Jr clearly popular and with the right gene pool and all has had a good season especially in money won but not great. He’s had a solid career but not great. It would be nice to see him have the break out year in the SK’s before he moves up but on the other had timing is everything. If this would be about combining the brain power of Mike Sr plus Quinn Christopher, M&T Transmissions, the other 82 sponsors with the TBR brand look out NWMT.
    Phil Moran to the 16 team, how would that work logistically? HYR Racing is out of PA and Moran is a Connecticut native and here now with Coby also a Connecticut native. Plus the 16 has some pretty good people as they are but seriously Haydt, Yannone,Silk and Moran is a combo any tour mod fan would salivate over.
    “McKennedy to his own car #79 and Rob Fuller crew chief”. Again very specific. I thought the owners of the 79 team were/are Tim & Sheryll Lepine. “THE” Rob Fuller as crew chief? Are you funnin with us?
    Just Me- The Original April 11 in his “Thompson Notes” just after the Icebreaker.
    “McKennedy’s car is junk, they ordered another car that night. He told me that was the best driving modified he’s ever been in. He hit so hard it broke the carbon fiber seat.”
    That tells me they have a strong relationship with Rob Fuller, LFR and the resources to replace a new car almost immediately. Rob Fuller as crew chief sounds like a joke seeing as how he is otherwise indisposed running the TFR multi location operation but what if it’s true. Instant powerhouse!
    Not a prediction but a hope. Dave Sapienza to finally give up the ghost on driving, become a full time owner, put someone like Lutz who outperformed in the Sapienza backup car in the Fall Final in the drivers seat and try to win a championship.
    Just Me-The Original hooked me and now I’m flailing like a big old large mouth bass leaping out of the water trying to escape the hook but this is NWMT silly season isn’t it? The NWMT “Gravediggers” busily at work with all there fingers and toes crossed hoping the tour crashes and burns. The 46 history, perhaps the 1 as well if the prediction is correct but other mixing an matching with the potential to form teams every bit as formidable as the Massa operation. Not only not knowing what new combo’s will be formed having no idea if they will be full time or tour mod pick their spots and have fun teams.
    Hooked like that big old bass and trolling the fan base at the same time to illicit more insights.
    What-a-ya-got RaceDayCt nation?

  15. Craig Von Dohren won the 2021 NASCAR weekly series Northeast Regional chanpionship and was awarded $15,000 for the accomplishment. in 1998, George Kent won the NASCAR weekly series Northeast regional championship and was awarded $39.500. have the NASCAR licenses and other expenses cost less than half of what they did in 1998?

  16. Jon McKennedy can Drive Circles around little Mike , True Facts, Won Races from Maine to Florida… As goodfella pointed out many times ,..,. The Baldwin Car is not up to speed for the long runs, Jon Usually always puts down great Lap times in Practice & Qualifying near the front of Most Races. The car falls off on the long runs as it DID AGAIN at Stafford, Ran at the front for awhile then got LOOSE and disappeared into the back pack trying to hang on for adjustments but, yellow flag DID NOT COME so no chance to Adjust it , no chance to Win. Jon is a master at tire Management , ASK MRS SERIES DRIVERS about that, Multi time Champion… 8 WINS IN A ROW in SUPER MODIFIEDS. He is an Awesome Driver !! True Facts. I like Mike Christopher, Good Driver that will make it to the TOUR one way or Another, A Proven Winner, Good Kid and Talented Shoe for Sure…. But to think McKennedy isn’t getting HIS JOB done behind the Wheel is BORDER LINE uninformed on what’s going on with Tom Baldwin and the 7NY….It’s clear it’s not the Driver

  17. 67 tour mods started at least one race in 2021. That’s a lot given a 14 race schedule. Some teams will go away and other teams with join the tour in some capacity. It’s been that way since 1985. What I don’t see is any type of great migration to Tri Track or other open divisions. Within the tour it’s been more owner retirement than anything else. Retirements that get spun into negative headlines. I guess tour owners aren’t allowed to grow old.

    I think the #1 is out as Just Me suggested. I’ll be curious to who buys that car. Potential up the wazoo there.

  18. Does anyone have details re: MC Jr’s 2nd place finish while driving the 7ny in the ROC 250 at Lake Erie last week end?

  19. Suitcase it’s not always who can run circles it’s who can bring the$$ personally or through sponsors and Balwin is running that as a business

  20. Rafter fan, DETAILS? he ran most in top 3 alll day with Austin Beers, Emerling and Zane ZEINER, ANDY J came on strong late after being put a lap down for tire pressure add during 1/2 way break which was not allowed, 7NY ran strong, swapped lead with others and was def a threat for the win!

  21. wmass01013 – thanks for the info!
    Perhaps Mohawk Northeast will help fund a full time 7ny ride for Mike, Jr(?).

  22. “But to think McKennedy isn’t getting HIS JOB done behind the Wheel is BORDER LINE uninformed on what’s going on with Tom Baldwin and the 7NY….It’s clear it’s not the Driver”

    Who suggested that any driver change in the 7ny that is pure conjecture at this point had anything to do with a deficiency of McKennedy and why was a full throated defense of him necessary.
    This isn’t about casting aspersions about drivers this is merely having some fun in silly season predicting changes.
    Make predictions……have fun………be happy!!!

  23. I guess I was reading between the lines….. LOL Have Fun = Be Happy ,,.. Just jumping in to make it clear that Jon McKennedy is at the TOP of His Game .. Average finish really impressive last couple of years … Should have won 2 tour races in a row but ran out of GAS at Icebreaker … OUCH …… Won North South Shootout against much more well funded teams years ago… ok . predictions….. Tri Track expands past Star , Seekonk, Monadnock to other TRACKS in 2022…. Big Money Matt is still the MAN TO BEAT… !!! I guess I defend Jon like you defend Chick …. LOL…

  24. Chick Stockwell aye, perhaps. More like you defending Bobby Santos.
    I’ll bite on the TTOMS expansion. Stafford, mid summer replacing one NWMT event.

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