On Sunday, Coby found the road back to victory lane - this time when the Tour visited Thompson International Speedway (CT). It didn’t take Mapquest to get him there either. It took many stints, including some one-off appearances, behind the wheels of racecars fielded by many different teams for the journeyman driver to get back to his winning ways. This time around, Coby went to victory in both the points-paying Tour Modified race and the 50-lap UNOH Showdown. Coby did it while driving for the Darling Motorsports #52 Modified team that drivers such as Matt Hirschman, Dale Quarterley and Chris Pasteryak had won races for in the past.
“Our team deserves it and I’ll say that I deserve it,” said Coby. “I don’t want to sound cocky, but I’ve been through a lot with this Tour. A lot of people believed in me to get the job done and it means a lot to pay them back.”
Coby’s 2006 victory came while driving for noted car owner Curt Chase, but after the Chase #77 team folded, Coby found himself without a ride or the money to buy one. He returned to weekly racing action – running an SK Modified prepared by himself and his father at Waterford Speedbowl (CT) on Saturday nights. The father and son combination would tow the racecar to the track on the back of an open flatbed truck and had to pinch their pennies to keep racing. Still, Coby was able to show plenty of speed on Saturday nights while still knocking on doors with Tour teams. Through the years, Coby ended up with limited deals to drive for car owners Ralph Solhem, George Bierce, Don King, Mike Smeriglio, Eddie Partridge, Bob Katon, Wayne Darling and the Santos family. Coby also picked up occasional rides, and won a pair of races, in the Modified Racing Series. He had not been able to make an attempt to run a full season on the NASCAR Tour since 2006.
For 2011 though, Coby hooked up with two car owners who had given him limited chances before. Darling and Bierce (along with several partners) combined forces to split up the Tour schedule and give Coby a chance to run all of the races again. He rewarded that faith by winning at Thompson, unofficially moving up into the fourth position of the Tour standings at the same time.
“In those five years, it wasn’t like I drove every Tour race,” said Coby. “I drove for probably seven or eight different teams…I think that’s what really brought me to this point – being able to work with a lot of different people…you get to drive a lot of cars and try a lot of set-ups…I’m still the same driver that I was. I’m just a little more mature and [have] a little more experience.”
Coby led 98 of the 125 laps in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Thompson and 46 of the 50 laps for the Showdown that was held as a finale to the day’s racing card. Coby credited a great car for being able to be so dominant.
“I could just go wherever I wanted to and that’s awesome,” said Coby.
The car was good enough for Coby to run it wide-open, without any attempt to conserve the tires or the car, in the Showdown.
“From lap one to lap 50, I gave it everything I had,” said Coby. “I was slinging into both corners and it stayed under me.”
The victory was Coby’s first at Thompson International Speedway. For years, the Milford, Connecticut native had been trying to visit victory lane at the staple of the Tour schedule, but had come up short after a few near misses. The wait for worth it though for Coby, who started his racing career at the Thompson Quarter-Midget track just behind turns three and four of the “big” track.
“This is obviously huge for me,” said Coby. “I have a lot of favorite racetracks and Thompson is one of those favorite race tracks. I grew up racing down in the “Little T.” I started racing “Little T” in 1987. We used to hang out at the clubhouse and watch all of the weekly shows and Sunday shows. I don’t even know if they were Tour shows and I didn’t care. I was just a kid sliding down the hill on my butt. My Dad used to make me sit up there with a stopwatch. He would show me that the guy running in 13th could be just as fast as the guy leading, but Thompson is so big and track position is so important that if he [the leader] is running smooth, he’s not going to get caught. [I had] a four car-length lead…four car-lengths is hard to make up if you are running smooth.”
Coby held off James Civali, Ryan Preece and Ted Christopher in the Tour races and then Christopher, Civali and defending NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion Burt Myers for the victory in the Showdown. By sweeping his two races of the day, Coby called a monopoly on the post-race headlines. After five winless partial seasons on the Tour, Coby was definitely enjoying his time back in the limelight.
“It’s a nice thing to know that we can gain some headlines,” said Coby. “There are a lot of great young drivers on the Tour and I’m a little bit older now. But I’m still in that age bracket. So it’s cool to come out here and put on a show and be that guy who takes home the big dollars and didn’t screw up the big race when it counted. I could have won the Tour race and had Teddy walk away and win the 50-lapper. Everyone would have said that Teddy won the big show….well, I won the big show.”
TC MAKES A REFERENCE TO A DIFFERENT KIND OF TC?
While many fans saw Doug Coby’s victory as a feel-good story, runner-up Ted Christopher wasn’t feeling too good about it. In the post-race press conference, Christopher threw a few jabs at his fellow competitor. Suggesting that while Coby’s car was good in the race, it because his well-funded #52 Darling Motorsports team was even more well-funded than Christopher’s top-shelf #36 Ed Whelan-owned team.
“When you’re on, you are on,” commented Christopher. “I told [Coby’s car owner] Wayne [Darling] that winning goes to money and Wayne’s got a lot of it.”
There wasn’t much love shown to Christopher by Coby either. In victory lane, Coby commented that even though Christopher finished in second place, he didn’t have anything for Coby.
“I don’t know why in victory lane, Teddy’s name came up,” said Coby later on. “It was me, [Ryan] Preece and [James] Civali that had the three cars to beat today. Teddy was there, but he just wasn’t on his game today. He’s one of the greatest to drive our cars, but it’s not always about Teddy when we come to Thompson.”
Christopher brushed off that comment when asked about it later on.
“Sometimes his mouth gets him in trouble,” said Christopher of Coby.
As he was getting ready to leave the press box after his media obligations were fulfilled, Christopher then made an off-the-cuff remark that implied that he thought Coby was running some type of traction control device, which is highly illegal, in his winning car.
“He tried to do a burnout and he couldn’t burn out. What was up with that?” laughed Christopher.
We asked Christopher point blank what he meant by that. His answer was someone oblique.
“You can take it any way that you want,” said Christopher. “We’re all grown men, figure it out for yourself.”
Coby denied that there was anything out of spec on his #52 car…or that he was even attempting to do a burnout.
“I wasn’t trying to do a burnout…I mean, give me a break,” said Coby. “Did he really say that? What a load. He is serious? I will go ask him. If that’s what he thinks good for him, let him keep thinking it. That’s ridiculous.”
RYAN PREECE ENJOYS THOMPSON RUN: READY FOR STAFFORD
Ryan Preece has fine-tuned his 40-lap dash for a victory runs this season as he is leading the points over at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) in the SK Modified division. Down the road at Thompson Speedway, Preece ran up front in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s UNOH Showdown, leaving him to mix it up with Ted Christopher for the top spot in the Showdown. However, the restarts shuffled him back to finish seventh in the Showdown.
"The restarts didn't go the way we wanted too," said Preece. "I got into Teddy (Christopher) and he gave it back to me and I wouldn't expect anything less."
While some are focusing in Lime Rock next week, Preece is thinking title at Stafford. He can win the title by staying out of trouble for one final weekend on the half mile.
"All we would have to do is finish 16th to win the title," said Preece. "That will be cool as it will be our first championship and that's special. This hit or miss stuff is fun, but I want back on the Tour real bad next year."
BRUNNHOELZL A WINNER AGAIN AT THOMPSON
George Brunnhoelzl III found himself in an interesting spot on Sunday afternoon. Shortly after a restart, he came back to the flag stand only to see the number 13 of Stephen Masse posted on the board. Masse was the leader and was being black flagged for jumping the restart giving the lead and basically the win to Brunnhoelzl.
"Bottom line is we got the win," said Brunnhoelzl. “I hate it for those guys because he did have a good car. He led a bunch of laps, but I believe we had a better car in the long run than what he did. We started catching him, but it’s one of those deals with NASCAR, you’ve got to play by their rules, it’s their game."
Masse pulled into victory lane to a shower of cheers, boos, and confusion.
"I got a good start and I guess George spun the tires and they black flagged me for that," said Masse. "They couldn't throw the caution and have a restart. I don't know."
Masse was scored with 14th.
DRIVERS SAYS 2012 SHOULD BE A GO
Several drivers were very positive about the whole North-South combination weekend at Thopmson and plans for next year are already in the works. Some drivers are jumping on the bandwagon already saying it should be a go with no changes.
"Absolutely this event should be back next year," said Andy Seuss. "I hope more of the Southern cars choose to come up and know that we can run with these guys."
James Civali also said that this should be a regular event on the Tour's schedule.
"Let's do it again next year," said Civali after running strong in both the WMT race and the final Showdown.
ALL SMILES FOR JAMES CIVALI IN THIRD
“We needed to get to him on a restart and we had a chance with eight or nine to go and it just didn't work out,” said Civali. “Overall the races were very smooth, we didn't wreck a lot of cars. I think it was very eventful for the fans as it was like an SK race. These are the fun races that we are used to. We should do the twin 50's and stuff like that.
“That was a lot of money, said Civali. "I would think the Race of Champions was the last time we raced for that much. I really don't know how long it's been.
LW MILLER FINDS WAYS TO SMILE AFTER 14TH IN SHOWDOWN
LW Miller was a missing man on Sunday afternoon in the Southern Modified Tour race. His number 36 Baker Motorsports machine was not up to speed and actually got an eight-lap penalty for changing tires looking for improvement.
"We had a set up that we thought would work," said Miller. "I really don't know how we got through practice thinking that way. It was horrible. I was hanging my head as we had to take a provisional to get into the Showdown."
Once in the Showdown, Miller was back after some major tweaking on the car. Despite not having run at Thompson in close to 10 years, Miller went from 25th to the top five in just 30 laps. He would get booted out of the groove on a restart costing him a good finish, but he was all smiles after the race.
"Fourteent doesn't show how strong our car was. I have to kick myself because with that setup we could have been a factor and we could have won the Southern race. Still good hard racing and lots of fun."
-With big money on the line, the 50-lap finale lasted just about two minutes longer than the Northern 125-lapper.
- Ron Silk got lucky that his broken axle came in the non-point race leaving him with a 60 point lead in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heading to Lime Rock.
- Tom Rogers, Jr. was the top North Rookie in their 125 lap event with a sixth-place finish.
-James Civali was the only driver other then Doug Coby to finish both races in the top three.
- Bobby Santos Finished sixth in the Showdown after starting 27th.
- After a 15 year absence, Steve Park finished fifth in the Southern Modified Tour race.
- Veteran Jeff Fuller wrecked out early and never got a chance to battle as he was out after only 20 laps.
- Ideal Racing teammates George Brunnhoelzl III and Andy Seuss left Thompson first and second in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour standings.