(Press release provided by Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park with permission from RaceDayCT.com)
There was a time in Doug Coby’s young racing career that the Milford driver seemed to be on the fast track toward the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East division.
At that point, when Coby was winning championships in the Late Model (1998) and former Pro Stock division (2000) at Stafford Motor Speedway, the K&N Pro Series East was known as the Busch North Series.
Coby, a four-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, will make his series debut in the NASCAR Busch North Throwback 100 for the K&N Pro Series East on July 8 at Thompson Speedway.
“When we ran our Stafford Pro Stock and when we had [American Sleeve Bearing] as a sponsor our plan was to go Busch North racing with them,” Coby said. “… It just never happened. It’s weird. … But that was the plan back when I was in my early 20’s. So now I’ll get my chance.”
Coby will drive a car for the Mooresville, N.C. based Calabrese Motorsports team, owned by part-time K&N East Series driver David Calabrese.
Teams in the event will be running special throwback paint schemes for the race and Coby has landed a throwback perfectly aligned with elements of his own racing career.
Coby will drive a car with a Mike McLaughlin throwback scheme. In the 1990’s McLaughlin was a driver known well for being highly successful in transitioning from successful Modified racing to success with full-fendered rides.
“Obviously his accomplishments speak for themselves with his success transferring from the Modifieds to the full-fendered cars,” Coby said. “Certainly you look at guys like him and Steve Park and Mike Stefanik, those are the three guys that I think of from my era of watching that were able to go and do both, and Ted [Christopher] obviously.”
Coby’s last time running a full season in a full-fendered car was 2000 at Stafford in the Pro Stock division. He hasn’t driven a full-fendered car since making a start in the Late Model division in relief of an injured Keith Rocco for team owner Scott Fearn in 2012 at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
“That was kind of funny because if you ask [Fearn] about it, I was glowing the brake rotors I was just using so much brakes,” Coby said. “But I finished second in the feature.”
Coby has made 193 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts dating back to 2002. He won his first championship with car owner Wayne Darling in 2012. Last year he won his third consecutive Whelen Modified Tour title driving for team owner Mike Smeriglio. He has 22 career series victories with 21 of them coming since 2011. He has five career Whelen Modified Tour victories at the .625-mile Thompson Speedway.
“It will be fun,” Coby said. “Hopefully we’ll get some Modified people that might not care about that race to go watch it. Hopefully I’m competitive enough to make it a battle of old guy vs. young kids and Modified guy vs. full-fendered kids. But obviously they have a huge advantage regardless of if they’ve turned laps at the track. They’ve probably turned 10,000 laps on iRacing on the track.
“We get a full day of practice on Friday [July 7], which is great for me to get acclimated to the car, but its also going to help [the regular teams] get acclimated to the track and give their crew chiefs and an opportunity to play around. So it kind of works both ways for the advantage.”
Coby will carry sponsorship for the event from Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer with support from Robert Yates Racing Engines. He said sponsorship packages are still available for the car.
Calabrese, who got his start in racing at Wall (N.J.) Stadium, raced full-time with the former NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour from 2013-2015. He made six starts with the K&N Pro Series East in 2016.
-Photo credit: Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park