For the third straight NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Stafford Motor Speedway, it was three-time champion Doug Coby taking home the checkers Friday night in the TSI Harley-Davidson 125. Though the stats show a dominating performance, leading 129 of 130 completed laps, it was not as easy an effort as it appeared with a fast Donny Lia sticking to Coby’s back bumper for much of the race.
Coby was in complete agreement with those present that it was anything but a cakewalk.
“Donny was right there. I had to push it, the car was tight in the beginning, I don’t know if he just wanted to lay back a little bit,” Coby said after the race. “My car got a little better after the first 20 laps, but he was there.”
After the field pitted on a lap 72 caution, Coby was able to get more room on Lia, but a series of late restarts caused by chaos behind kept the field tight and Coby responded in kind.
“It’s just uncertainty. I was kind of spinning the tires, I guess they were spinning them worse than me,” said Coby “The restart before the last one, Donny got in right behind me and that was probably the most dangerous restart you can have as the leader. I drove the last restarts probably harder than I should have, that’s something for me to think about as a driver.”
Coby was able to get the advantage on a final green-white-checkered restart while Lia had to deal with Jimmy Blewett who came away with the second-place finish, with Lia settling into third. Eric Goodale was fourth and Justin Bonsignore rounded the top five. Both Goodale and Bonsignore had each received the free pass late in the race after falling prey to Coby’s blistering pace.
Friday’s performance is just the latest in what has been a dazzling career at his home track of Stafford which started in the late 90’s and includes a 1998 Late Model championship, a 2000 Pro Stock championship, five wins in the SK Modifieds and now nine career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins at Stafford, breaking a tie with Reggie Ruggiero for third all time.
“It’s always neat to win here. I can think back to just about every division I’ve raced here racing weekly and some of things we had to do just to get to the racetrack, some of the people that stepped up buying us tires in the Late Model and Pro Stock, people who bought me my first SK Modified all sorts of things,” Coby recalled.
“I remember when the Whelen Modified Tour came to town it was such an intimidating presence. It was fun to grow up watching the Tour races here and learning a little about it because I didn’t really do that before I started racing. It’s a challenging track, young drivers typically take a while to jump on the nuances, fortunately for me I’m not a young guy anymore and I’ve got it all worked out.”
You can find results and a recap of the race at Race Central Live.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, LI); Twitter – @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Rick Ibsen