Doug Coby has proven time and time again that he’s currently the man to beat on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He’s won three championships in the last five years and is currently leading the points again. But on Wednesday night Coby proved that he’s just the man to beat everywhere in a Modified and anything with four wheels and an engine as he doubled up winning the 100-lap $10,000 to win Tri-Track Open Modified Series feature and the 29-lap Boston Louie Memorial in the NEMA Midgets.
On the Modified side, Coby appeared on the entry list for the first time less than a week prior to the event, coming in with the Mike Smeriglio No. 2 team. After a modest effort to start the night, Coby found opportunities to move forward early which featured two three-wide moves less than ten laps apart to move past Jon McKennedy, Richard Savary, and Rowan Pennink, followed by a dynamite restart to get the lead from Todd Annarummo on lap 40.
“I wasn’t even planning on getting out front. I was going to ride fifth and just wait restart, restart and go fifth to third if I could and then start pressuring,” said Coby after the race. “I think that was a three or four lap period I went from fifth to second. Todd I guess just spun them up on the restart and got a little loose, just being a little too aggressive. I got the lead, and that’s obviously where I want to be, whether I’m going to win or not I want to be leading, I want somebody to take it from me. I’ve said it about these open shows all the time, if you’re leading, you’re in control and I tried to be in as much control as I could with the restarts with who was contending.”
With 35 laps to go Justin Bonsignore became the biggest threat to Coby after taking over second on a restart and hounded Coby for the lead for 25 laps, nearly clipping the grass in the turns trying to work inside along with multiple light bumper taps and crossover moves. When Bonsignore was later black-flagged for refusing to fall to the rear after stalling during a caution flag, Ron Silk pursued Coby with the same gusto for the final 10 laps. In the end a stout car combined with Coby’s experience kept him at the front.
“The reality is the bumper taps are good because that means they can’t pull next to you. On a track like this if they bump you going in or in the middle, they’re just slowing themselves coming off and that kind of gave me an extra foot or two,” Coby told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “These guys have a choice how hard they want to hit it and he was just trying to tap me and move me out of the way, maybe even a tick just trying to get there. Just a really solid car all night.”
Wednesday’s outing could be bad news for Coby’s fellow competitors on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The Smerigilio team had waited until Sunday to make the decision to come to Seekonk and was using the night primarily as a test session in advance of the Tour’s return to Seekonk in September.
“This is really a test session for us for the Tour race,” Coby explained. “We weren’t planning on coming, it was up in the air whether I was going to come with this car, the 20, or not at all. I asked Phil (Moran) if we’re going to do Seekonk and run it as a test session for the Tour and he said as long as we get out of Riverhead okay we will. We barely got out of Riverhead okay. We were really happy to build a notebook. This was a $10,000 practice for us.”
The win is Coby’s third on Open Wheel Wednesday (2011 & 2013) and first since the Tri-Track Series came on board in 2014.
The night was already big to start even before the Modifieds hit the track as Coby had already collected the win in the Boston Louie Memorial. Coby pursued Anthony Nocella for a number of laps for the lead, but eventually moved to the top when Nocella’s car broke on a restart. Coby outran Randy Cabral on the final run to take the victory. Coby last won the Boston Louie in 2013 when it was held on a date separate from the Modifieds. He was more than thrilled he was able to complete the sweep on the night.
“I told Jim Schaefer walking in here that should pay a bonus,” joked Coby. “To double up is awesome. It’s the biggest race of the season for NEMA. It’s not easy, and it’s gotten so competitive. I used to think NEMA would be a cakewalk, I remember watching Randy Cabral and Bobby Santos just kill everybody at Waterford and I’m like ‘NEMA’s easy’ and then I raced with them for three years and I got my ass handed to me just about every other race.”
Next on the calendar for Coby is the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at New Hampshire Motor Speedway July 15 and 16.
The Tri-Track Series returns with another $10,000 show at Star Speedway (NH) July 30.
For an on-demand replay of Wednesday night’s Trackside Now coverage presented by PFC Brakes, click here.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, Long Island) – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Rick Ibsen photo