For the fourth time in his career and the third straight season, Doug Coby heads to the Sunoco World Series at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) with a significant shot at a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship. Coby and the No. 2 Mike Smeriglio-owned team have put together another impressive season coupled with five wins and ten top-five finishes in 16 races. Throughout the season, consistency has favored both him and second-place points runner Justin Bonsignore, with momentum swinging back and forth between the two.
This past Sunday night, the momentum swung back in the direction of Coby. While it gives the defending champ some comfort, he knows that it is still on him to finish strong.
“It helps, it’s nice we were able to get a few more points on the 51 team, knowing that they had closed in on us after Loudon. It’s nice to kind of break their momentum a little bit. Certainly not as far ahead as we want to be,” Coby told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We still have to go out and perform this weekend because I would expect that they could very easily go out there, win the race and lead the most laps. It’s on us to have a good run to keep pace.”
While Coby admits that he has kept watch on Bonsignore most of the season, it has not been a distraction for him in the slightest.
“I’ve been keeping an eye on him the last ten races or so, but I’m focused on racing. I’ve been in this position a bunch of times, you have to go out there and race the race. If we qualify well and we can run up front, I’d gladly settle in up front, anywhere in the top five if I can. If we don’t qualify well and have to deal with traffic, then it’s just a matter of being smart and not getting involved in other people’s messes. I’m not going to worry about where the 51 is unless it gets to the point where were bent up or in a position where we are sliding back through the field or close to the magic number.”
While 16th is the magic number for Coby’s fourth title, he still would like to go out and get another win at Thompson, a track where he was seemingly invincible at a season ago, sweeping all four races at the “Big T” in 2015. While he has been solid this season, the team has done some work to give him the same kind of car that helped him to win those races and secure a third championship.
“We got a fourth, a second, and then the race where we finished behind was a race where we were running fifth because we got penalized with five to go on a restart. We had a top five car we just didn’t have a car that could drive away from people when it was in the lead. We went up there and tested last Tuesday and made a couple of changes to the car based on some info from other tracks on changes we made. I feel like we are going there with an improved car based off of the test and we’ll be back in the form where we were last year, assuming everything works the way it did in the test.”
The circumstances are somewhat easier for Coby this time around in 2016 with the 20 point margin compared to the deadlock he was in with Ryan Preece and Woody Pitkat last year. But he knows that Thompson’s unforgiving reputation can easily turn things upside down.
“Last year we were tied going into the World Series and we had to be aggressive going out there racing against two other teams and this year it looks like we’re just racing the 51. It’s a good spot to be up 20 than down 20 or tied again. It’s just enough to go out there and not have a mechanical issue or make some stupid move. It’s far from locked up, crazy things have happened at the World Series, we’re definitely not looking at it as a lock for the championship.”
Even with the extra pressure, his game plan is the same as always this Saturday and Sunday.
“Five to go, that’s when we’ll start thinking about where we’re running and how the points are. Until then we have to practice, time trial, and start the race just like with any other race. That’s what we’ve done in the past and it seems to have worked.”
Be sure to follow Speed51.com all this weekend for in depth coverage of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and more at the Sunoco World Series.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, Long Island) – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Rick Ibsen