Mike Leaty Looking To Have Fun, Make Memories With Dad At Whelen Mod Tour Lancaster Race

(Press Release from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)

Mike Leaty (Photo: Bryan Bennett/NASCAR)

Racing has been in Mike Leaty’s blood since the moment he was brought into this world.

His father Jan started racing in the late 1970s, the beginning of a career that included track championships at Spencer Speedway in Williamson, New York, and the now-defunct Tioga Motorsports Park in Owego, New York.

Jan Leaty’s success racing locally led him to become a regular with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, where he captured nine victories in a career that spanned from 1985 to 2008.

Mike Leaty followed in his father’s footsteps as a racer and has enjoyed a successful career himself, capturing two track championships at Spencer Speedway as well as a pair of regional touring modified championships with the Race of Champions.

This Saturday, Mike will do something he rarely gets to do. He’ll compete with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in the Nu-Way Auto Parts 150 (8 p.m. ET on FloRacing) at Lancaster Motorplex with his father as his crew chief.

“It’s what we want to do. In a perfect world, we would do it every race,” Mike Leaty said about working with his father. “When we get to come close to home, that makes it more financially feasible to run my car, and we get to work together.

“It’s kind of like when I was growing up racing. We would race at Spencer Speedway, and my dad was always my crew chief. His experience brings my team to another level. It’s what we want to do, just not always what we’re able to do.”

RELATED: Entry list for Saturday’s Nu-Way Auto Parts 150 at Lancaster

The chance to join the field at Lancaster came in large part thanks to veteran Modified Tour driver Patrick Emerling, though not in the way one might think.

Through their business, L2 Autosport, Mike and Jan Leaty prepare and crew Emerling’s Modified Tour entry when Emerling is available to race. Mike usually works as part of the crew at the track while Jan serves as Emerling’s crew chief.

Emerling, who won the only previous NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Lancaster in 2021, is unable to race this weekend because of a schedule conflict with the NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Michigan International Speedway.

That opened the door for Mike to dust off his own race car and head to Lancaster, where he’ll make his sixth career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start and first of the season.

“The opportunity to work with my father as a crew chief, just a whole bunch of things kind of worked out in my favor that allowed me to be available for this race,” Mike Leaty said. “It’s something I wanted to do; just time doesn’t usually permit it. We put the deal together kind of last minute. I wasn’t planning on it.

“Patrick wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to race or not. His Xfinity schedule, it depended on if he was in the seat at Michigan. We had the car ready for Pat that was going to go to Lancaster just in case he was available, and then when he decided he couldn’t make Lancaster, that kind of freed up our schedule to run my No. 25 car.”

Lancaster is an ideal place for Mike to join the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour field. He’s scored several victories at the facility through the years and believes experience — combined with mastering Turns 1-2 — are the keys to being fast at 0.625-mile asphalt oval.

“Lancaster is a unique track. It’s different on both ends. (Turns) three and four is kind of a more traditional corner like you’d see at most of the race tracks around the United States,” Mike said. “(Turns) one and two is unique. There is a drag strip there that they have to incorporate into the frontstretch, and for whatever reason one and two is a wide, sweeping corner. It kind of necks down as you get into it.

“I can’t even explain it. It’s just different. Getting through turns one and two is the key to going fast around Lancaster.”

While Mike hopes he can earn a top-10 finish Saturday night at Lancaster, he said the broader goal is to have fun working with his father while racing in the series where Jan enjoyed so much success through the years.

“Racing is my family’s life,” Mike said. “It’s what we do. We love racing. Any spare minute we have, we work on race cars. I work a normal job and then pretty much probably 50 percent of nights after work I work on race cars. I think this event is more about going and having fun as a family then it is to go and be like, ‘We have to win this race.’ This one is more about having fun together.”

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