With strong finishes and a breakthrough victory late in the season, it’s safe to say this past season was very successful for A.J. Emms and team.
“The 2016 season was a great one for our team,” Emms told Short Track Musings. “With the new car, and the first year as a team we faced a lot of adversity throughout the season that we were able to over come. With that being said, we had a lot of positive moments throughout the year that we’ll build on, and the not so positive ones we’ve learned from going ahead. Overall a really positive and fun season.”
Kicking off the season at Flamboro Speedway, Emms started out the season on a strong note by winning both of his qualifying heats. He then capped the weekend off with a runner-up finish in the 30-lap feature. The momentum carried to Delaware Speedway for the Orillia, Ontario native as he led three laps in the feature en route to a fourth place finish. Over the middle of the season, there were some positives and some frustrating weeks. From two bad runs at Flamboro to a wreck at Delaware, only to be paired with a third at Flamboro in June, a runner-up at Peterborough’s Chase for the Colours, and leading laps en route to a fourth at Delaware Speedway.
“The Chase for the Colours run at Peterborough was a real moral boaster for us,” he said. “After a hard crash the week before at Delaware Speedway that forced us to reclip the front end and straighten the car, coming into Peterborough we weren’t sure how we would fair. Being solid right out of the trailer, and running second to the 8 team was definitely successful, and made it worth all the work.”
With consistency and determination shown through the season, Emms easily was one of the drivers qualified for the inaugural OSCAAR Race for the Cup.
Kicking it off at Peterborough Speedway, Emms was quick in his qualifying heats with finishes of first and third. Come Sunday for the Autumn Colours Classic starting in the ninth spot, he quick began to make his way forward cracking the top-five at Lap 24. He kept moving forward, getting a good restart with 10 laps to go to put the No. 14 Sunshine Super Wash – Orillia, Davenport Subaru, Creecher’s Design, Klotz Canada, Artech Promotional Wear – Orillia, Bromley Automotive, and TSS Top Shops – Barrie Modified out front. Emms got a pair of good restarts to close out the race, picking up the race victory ahead of Robert Warnes and Brent McLean.
“With the amount of things that had happened this year, and the position we were in being in the Chase, the A.C.C win was huge,” Emms said. “Not only that but for me personally the win was my biggest yet. It was an unreal experience that i can hopefully repeat in 2017.”
Entering the finale at Flamboro Speedway as one of the drivers with a shot at the championship, he ran up front throughout the feature. He was quick, but it wasn’t enough to beat Gary McLean as Emms finished second, with McLean getting the victory championship.
For OSCAAR, it marked a unique year as it was the first year they tried out a Chase format, dubbed the Race for the Cup, which had some in agreement and some in disagreement.
“Overall I feel that the chase format was action packed for the fans,” Emms said. “Personally I am impartial. I just want to race, and run as best as we possibly can each and every week. Whether we run a traditional points system, a chase, or anything else, we’ll stick to our plan of that each and every week and the points will take care of themselves.”
With a pair of back-to-back solid seasons under his belt with two top-six finishes in points, excitement is now building towards hopefully another successful campaign in 2017.
“I think that excitement will grow once we see the schedules,” he said. “Even as a race fan, I’m excited for the 2017 racing season. With a lot of changes in short track racing in the province over the off season, I think it’ll be action packed, not to mention the opening of Jukasa Motor Speedway.”
Emms added his focus going into the year is to eliminate the mistakes made this past season.
“If we can do that, work hard to prepare, and do the best we can each week, I’m confident that we’ll have a successful season,” he said.
Be sure to keep up with A.J. Emms all race season long by checking out his website at http://www.ajemms.com.