Full House: Patrick Emerling To Run For Title With New Team In ’24 On Whelen Modified Tour

Patrick Emerling (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour veteran Patrick Emerling will return to full-time competition with the series in 2024 with a newly formed team.

Emerling, of Orchard Park, N.Y. will run for new team owner Rich Gautreau. The team will operate out of the TFR Distribution shop in West Boylston, Mass.

“It’s one of those things that it just came together,” Emerling told RaceDayCT. “I think it’s an amazing opportunity and there’s a lot of potential there for doing well. We started talking about it and all of the sudden it became a reality. I’m really excited for it. … Modifieds are a passion of mine. I just love doing it and this is just a great opportunity.” 

TFR owner Rob Fuller helped facilitate bringing the team together with Gautreau, a longtime short track racer. 

“[Gautreau] wanted to own a car on the [Whelen] Modified Tour so we went to work to put this all together,” Fuller told RaceDayCT. “It’s going to be the LFR house car and we’re going to use this program to start developing the LFR Gen 3 chassis. I’ve got to get back in the game. I’ve been away from the track restructuring Troyer for five years now. I’ve got to back at the track and keep the evolution going with what we’re doing.

“We had a very short list of potential drivers for this program. We know [Emerling] is a guy that can have success but can also offer us the feedback we need for the development side of what we’re doing with this program.” 

Emerling started the Emerling-Gase Motorsports team with the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2022 with driver Joey Gase. Emerling said he still looking for sponsorship opportunity to run selected Xfinity Series events in 2024. 

“I was seeking out potential sponsorship opportunities to run full-time [on the Xfinity Series], but the love of Modified racing took over,” said Emerling, who has run with family owned teams on the Whelen Modified Tour since 2011. “Sometimes that’s just where your heart is at.” 

Dale Headquist will serve as crew chief for the new operation. 

“I’m ecstatic to do this,” Headquist told RaceDayCT. “Patrick is a really good talent. He’s very intelligent. He’s got a lot of race intelligence, especially in a Modified. I think he brings a lot to the table. I’m just beyond excited for this. 

“We have a lot of tools at our discretion for this program. Being housed right in the [TFR Distribution] shop is a huge plus. We don’t have to wait for [Fuller] to answer the phone when we need something or have questions, I can walk right into his office. Rob’s knowledge in the Modified field is superior. I think it’s a win-win for everybody involved.” 

Said Emerling: “I started to get know [Headquist] in the last few years. We always say hello at the track and always chat about stuff. He won a championship back in 2022 with Jon McKennedy. I think that all the pieces of the puzzle are in place with this opportunity to have a very successful season.” 

Emerling has four career Whelen Modified Tour victories over 144 series starts since 2011. He finished second in the series standings in 2021, his last season running full-time in the division. Emerling made 12 Whelen Modified Tour starts in 2022 and eight last season. 


  1. kenneth heim says

    very cook

  2. Suitcase Jake says

    Dale definitely has the knowledge & with a Crew Chief title already in the back pocket along with Emerling on the wheel … They will be contenders
    right away… Adds to the drama a little bit in 2024…

  3. The Fury and PSR cars do pretty good.

    So the LFR/TFR house car is making a comeback. It has been as elusive as Sasquatch, Big Foot, Nelly The Loch Ness Monster, the monsters from the Blair Witch Project, and so many other things.

    Surprised Dowling and Kopcik are not running it. The house car had the best run with those two.

    I love silly season.

    The restructuring of the technology of evolution has been crucial to the non-advancement.

  4. hey Dareal it;s NESSY from the Loch Ness

  5. James H Osterhoudt says

    So that makes what, 8 cars running the Tour full time, one of which just makes laps and doesn’t really race. The WMT has to do something that attracts more cars. 16 cars at Oswego doesn’t quite cut it!(5 of which were Catalanos)

  6. Contenders huh. With all due respect I’ll take the other side of that bet and here’s the logic for it.
    The 16, 51 and to a lesser extend 64 teams have shown how hard it is to contend. Consistency is everything with equipment that is not only fast but reliable. Bonsignor likely lost the championship with a bonehead move at Wall so the driver has to be near perfect as well.
    I’ll take your word on the crew chief but otherwise the team looks to be playing with house money pun intended. Emerling is a championship quality driver and my goodness they are out of a top chassis and setup shop for Pete’s sake.
    I’m betting they have some notable success but there will be growing pains. The problem with that is to win a championship if the 16, 51 and 64 are all in for 2024 is you can’t have missteps like in any facet of the operation.
    Aside from that how great is this from a fan perspective……fresh meat and high quality meat as well.

  7. Ken, thanks for the redirect… and it’s actually NESSIE. I looked it up.

    I’ve said it trillions of times on these forums, it is all about not making mistakes. JBon eliminated himself in ’23 with those TWO mistakes. It was a race of minimal impact mistakes towards the end of the season between Silk and JBon. The Silk team made less impactful mistakes and prevailed.

    The car has to be prepared to perfection (Crew Chief), the spotter has to predict the future. The driver has to run on the edge while saving tires. It ain’t easy. The owner has to give the Crew Chief all the resources necessary to prepare the best car.

    Sure would like to see Dowling and Kopcik together again. They can make any chassis look good.

  8. Suitcase Jake you’re really …not Serious are you ? Thought you were little more on top of your racing my man. Seriously.. What back ground in racing does Dale have ? He’s got a handful of wins turning wrenches on a late mode team that just out spent everyone. Anyone that knows racing or followed the #79 2022 Nasçar season will agree 100% Dale was not a crew chief .. not even close. The driver bailed him out of multiple situations time and time again and always questioned some of his ridiculous decisions. At end of day Johns Knowledge, experience , endless effort to succeed , Fullers random times of showing up , great pit crew and owners is what won the championship. How many times did Dale Run the kid out fuel again leading in some big races ? Thompson 300 .. spring sizzler duel 😬You can only ride on some ones wave for so long. How was dale record last half season with other drivers ? Average 22nd place finish , Laps down .. DNQ in a handful of races . Fuller house car with fuller calling the cards …. Emerling will run fine. Dale is crew chief on paper cause rob can’t be listed .. “ conflict interest “

  9. Just Me - The Original says

    Fuller calls the shots when he’s involved, just like when Dowling was driving, Kopcik was crew chief on paper.

    @ deareal, did you know that 2 of the 3 chassis that Bonsignor was running were the original LFR cars that he got from Fulller?

  10. Suitcase Jake says

    Well Phil, That’s your opinion & that’s what makes this a great forum.. I know Jon and followed his career from the early days in NH… I did predict He would win in the Big Leagues in Tour Modifieds.. Which he has done on many Series and Tracks up and down the East Coast. One of my longtime friends was on Jon’s Team many many years. He would have Won at Thompson to start the season with 2 wins in a row with Tommy in the 7NY but ran out of fuel late in that one too.. But anyway, I am fully aware like you are, on Jon’s knowledge & Driving Ability .. I did predict Jon to WIN the Modified Tour Championship 2 years ago….. as many on here can attest … So we are in Total agreement there..
    As far as Dale goes.. I did write before that he did help me when I first came to Thompson as a Crew Chief… After years of Racing Pro – Stocks { driving]
    and later on moving to Crew Chief .. On the Thompson Modifieds early on . Dale drove 1.5 hours to Our shop and spent several hours teaching me the Thompson set up.. Dale did all this for free… We returned to the Track and Won the Heat Race , Then went out and Won The FEATURE … We went on to Win 6 races that season… Dale was a huge reason we saw success.. It all started up at the Clubhouse.. Talking and have a cold one… He asked how we were liking Thompson and how the car was doing.. He offered to come up to the shop and see what He could do to HELP US … So when I speak about Dale it will always be with RESPECT … Pretty sure he has Won at every level He has tried so far in Racing. With Emerling behind the wheel they should have Success also. I do understand with a new team it’s hard to go out and win the title in your first year together like Jon & Dale did .. Emerling looked real strong all week at New Smyrna last year and was really the only competition Big Money Matt had all week long… The first race is at New Smyrna so we will see how Dale & Patrick do down there…It just adds more drama to the season and is Healthy to have another car in the mix with the BIG 3 … 16……64…..51……

  11. Peter Paul and Mary says

    Ahhh. Darrel speaks again about how the PSR cars look pretty good. The cars haven’t won a SINGLE race in the tour. 😂 How many championships does LFR have? Call the 51 and 16 what you want but the design is a LFR. I’m looking forward to the G3 design in the story. Be interesting to see Fullers hand in 2024. The Thompson race proves me right. That 1 car dominated. If Patrick gets that every race it will be interesting. Not sure how Fuller and Emerling will mesh but if they do I will be looking for some serious success. This is good for the tour either way.

  12. Just Me – The Original… are you referring to the chassis that have been debated as to their provenance? I recall a couple chassis that were debated as to whether they were LFR or Fury chassis. I think you will need to get Maury Povich involved to run DNA testing.

  13. To say PSR hasn’t won a single race on the Tour is either incorrect or technically correct but misleading.
    In the 7ny’s dominant run to an owner championship in 2022 PSR played a key part in rebuilding and setting up the car for which they received high praise from Tom Baldwin. Moreover PSR has gone from a backwater chassis fabricator who dealt primarily in components to a popular choice for many SMART modified teams and has won races on that tour.

  14. Great news for Emerling. As far as PSR, didn’t Coby win a tour race in the 7NY PSR car? They have some wins in open shows when MCJ drove. All I can say is Rob Fuller is the Man. Fury cars are LFR cars maybe with some updates most likely copied from LFR or TFR. In the end, you can have the best of the best of the best, and if you don’t know how to set it up, or your driver can’t drive, your not going to win races. Right now with Fuller owning both LFR and Troyer, along with other entities, he’s at the Pinnacle of modified racing.

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