The 2017 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season ended on Sunday night and Doug Coby became a five-time series champion by earning his fourth consecutive title.
Coby, who finished fifth in the World Series 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, joins Modified legends Jerry Cook and Richie Evans as the only drivers to win four straight championships.
For Coby, he doesn’t want to be compared to the best in the series’ history. He says it’s not about “what the stats say” for his career.
“[Cook and Evans] are legends and I’d never in a million years put my name in the same line as them,” Coby said. “I’m content to try and keep etching my name in the record books in this era of Modified racing. I think we have a special group and I’m really proud to represent this team as the driver champion this year.”
For the first time in the tour’s history, two different champions were crowned between the driver’s and owner’s titles. Ryan Preece and Eddie Partridge captured the owner’s championship with the No. 6 car. The duo clinched the feat when Preece took the green flag at the race’s start.
Had Preece not missed two events this season, he could have been in contention to win the driver’s title, too. But he doesn’t regret his decisions to get married and run the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Kentucky Speedway last month.
“I got married to my beautiful wife and I went out to Kentucky to further my career, and I have 100 percent support from Eddie and Connie,” Preece said. “In return, I wanted to do as much as I could to help them win this owner’s championship because in the end, that’s the one that pays.”
Championship runner-up Timmy Solomito won the race in a backup car after the primary was wrecked in practice on Saturday. He passed Ron Silk to the inside on the final restart and won the event in overtime.
“I knew we had a good car. I was kind of knocking on the 85’s (Silk’s) bumper and we just had to get a really good restart to be alongside of him going into turn one,” Solomito said. “We were able to get that restart and obviously, make the pass and go home with the win.”
It was a bittersweet ending to the season for Solomito, who finished sixth points behind Coby. But he gave all he had to end 2017 on a high note.
“Didn’t win the championship but we won the race, so we did everything that we could today and for unloading the car yesterday and having zero practice laps on it,” he said. “I think it’s pretty impressive. It just goes to show how good Flamingo Motorsports is.
Solomito ended up with 10 top-fives and 11 top-10s — equal to Coby’s numbers, but Solomito had five victories compared to Coby’s one. Coby said consistency was the key to this year’s title.
“We’ll come back next year and fight for the championship again,’ Solomito said. “I’m just lucky to be a part of a great foundation and a great team.”
Polesitter Chase Dowling finished second, followed by Silk, Rowan Pennink, Coby, Andrew Krause, Woody Pitkat, Dave Sapienza, Jamie Tomaino and Justin Bonsignore.
With another top-10 finish, Bonsignore ended up third in the championship standings.
Race fans can find full on-demand coverage of Sunday’s Sunoco World Series at Thompson by visiting Speed51.com’s Trackside Now.
-By John Haverlin, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / Rick Ibsen
1 16 Timmy Solomito
2 15 Chase Dowling
3 85 Ron Silk
4 3 Rowan Pennink
5 2 Doug Coby
6 24 Andrew Krause
7 82 Woody Pitkat
8 36 Dave Sapienza
9 99 Jamie Tomaino
10 51 Justin Bonsignore
11 77 Gary Putnam
12 64 Rob Summers
13 11 Burt Myers
14 89 Matt Swanson
15 39 Calvin Carroll
16 58 Eric Goodale
17 88 Spencer Davis
18 33 Wade Cole
19 76 Jimmy Blewett
20 46 Craig Lutz
21 20 Dan Cugini
22 14 Cory Oslund
23 38 Manuel Dias
24 48 Kyle Soper
25 21 Ronnie Williams
26 6 Ryan Preece
27 78 Walter Sutcliffe, Jr.
28 63 Austin Pickens
29 44 Bobby Santos III
30 01 Melissa Fifield
31 26 Gary McDonald
32 92 Anthony Nocella
33 00 Andy Seuss
34 18 Ken Heagy
35 17 John Baker