STAFFORD – Doug Coby may not have a stockpile of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victories on his resume, but the Milford driver is showing he knows how to collect the big check in the historic events.
Coby made the most of a dominant car Sunday by running away with victory in the Whelen Modified Tour Tech-Net Spring Sizzler 200 at Stafford Motor Speedway.
The Spring Sizzler stands arguably as the most historic event left on the Modified Tour schedule. In 2006 Coby scored his first Whelen Modified Tour victory by winning the Sizzler.
“It’s amazing,” Coby said. “To be able to put my name on the Sizzler win list twice now is pretty damn cool.”
It was Coby’s third career victory in the series. His second came last season at Thompson International Speedway. Ryan Preece of Berlin was a distant second. Keith Rocco of Wallingford, had a career best third place finish in his seventh series start.
Coby pulled easily away from Preece over the final 30 laps and won by 1.8 seconds.
“Holy crap,” Coby said in victory lane. “This is actually the best racecar I’ve ever driven in my life at this speedway.”
Coby and team owner Wayne Darling are in their first season together running full-time in the division. Last season Coby split time with two teams, with Darling providing a car to Coby for half the series events.
“It’s a really really big thing to have done this,” Coby said. “Big for my team. They work so hard and their attitudes are phenomenal. They are the type of people you just want to be around, good days or bad days. So it makes the good days even better when you really like the people that you work with.”
Coby started the race seventh and ran with the leaders for the first half of the race. Coby was running sixth after most of the leaders hit pit road on lap 97 under caution. The race restarted on lap 109 and on lap 112 Coby was making what turned out to be the race winning move under Preece going into turn one. Preece, who started on the pole, lead 100 of the first 111 laps.
“I just had a good run,” Coby said. “I passed him into [turn one] which I never do here. I usually get a run off of [turn] two and then dive bomb into [turn] three like an [SK Modified] move. That is by far the easiest way to pass here.
“I don’t think he was freaking out because I passed him then, but I think probably with about 30 to go he was freaking out because I was driving away from him,” Coby said of the pass for the lead. “I looked at it this way, you never know, 80 laps [later] how your car is going to be handling, so I figured, let me get the hell in front of him now while I have good tires and then if he’s that much better than me 50 laps from now and he drives by me, more power to him. But, he didn’t, so it was the right decision at the right time.”
Coby’s day was nearly ruined when a piece of paper caught in his grill sent his water temperatures skyrocketing over the final 60 laps, but the motor survived despite the adverse conditions.
“We had a Subway wrapper on our grill and that shot the water temperature up from 200 or 210 [degrees] right to 240,” Coby said. “Two-forty is when you pull in. We were actually debating on one of those cautions with 48 to go, to come in the pits and pull the wrapper of the grill. It stayed at 240, then it went to 230, then it was 236 and [crew chief John McKenna] told me ‘There’s a light in there that’s going to tell you, if you the light comes on you’ve got to pull in.’ And it never came on and I don’t think I would have told him if it came on. But, it was just one of those things where, somebody got a sandwich at Subway and it almost ruined our race.”
It was the second time in two races this season that Preece started on the pole and dominated the first half of the race but had to settle for not being in victory lane. In the season opener at Thompson on April 15 Preece was caught up in a wreck in the second half of the race.
“I started pushing it and [Coby] started pushing and I think his car just started coming to him and mine just started going the wrong direction,” Preece said. “We know what we did so we know what we’ve got to do to bring it back to how it was at the beginning. I know we have a really fast car and hopefully we’ll be in victory lane real soon.”
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