Doug Coby may have even surprised himself on Saturday afternoon at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT).  The two-time and defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion laid down a fast lap of 18.679 seconds around the 5/8-mile oval to claim his first Coors Light Pole Award since August 5, 2011 at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT).


Piloting a brand new LFR chassis, Coby set fast time in the only practice session of the day and followed it up by topping the 35-car field during time trials.  He’ll now look towards completing the weekend trifecta by winning the season-opening Icebreaker 150 on Sunday afternoon.


“I think we’ll have a good car for tomorrow, too,” said Coby after his qualifying run.  “It’s a new LFR chassis so we’re still dialing it in.  We’re trying some stuff and I’m happy with it so far.  We’ll see how it goes tomorrow for 150 laps, but we at least know it will go good for two laps.”


One year after winning the Tour championship, many people may wonder why Coby would make a wholesale change such as changing chassis manufactures.  If it isn’t broke, why fix it?  Coby offered up an answer to that question after qualifying.


“We had to because everybody else was loading up,” Coby stated.  “Bobby (Santos) knows from experience on the Tour that when you win a championship you get the bulls-eye on your back.  There were six of us that could have won a championship last year.


“You can’t just sit back and think that what you have one year is going to be fast the next year.  We still ultimately don’t know if we have a car that’s going to win races this year, but that’s why we made our change just to try it.  But so far so good one day into the Tour season.”


Bobby Santos, who has claimed 16 NWMT poles since 2010, put in a strong qualifying effort and will join Coby on the front row when the field takes the green flag.


“We had a good qualifying run,” said Santos.  “I wasn’t too positive after practice, but we made some good adjustments for our qualifying run and I’m happy.”


Maybe the biggest surprise of the day came when Corey LaJoie, who is making just his second career start with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, qualified third.  The five-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series East winner was very excited about his qualifying effort and coined this weekend as “a new experience” for him.


“It’s pretty cool to be behind Doug and Bobby,” said LaJoie, who is most known for his success driving full-bodied race cars.  “Those are two of the fastest guys pretty much every week it seems like.  To get to drive the 15-40 Connection LFR chassis is really cool because I didn’t have much going on this year and Rob (Fuller) let me drive this thing.  It’s probably one of nicest cars here and it’s a privilege.  To be third right out of the box is pretty cool.  I have some things to learn from these guys tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.  I’m just going to soak it all in.”


While LaJoie soaks it all in, Coby plans to celebrate a little bit with his team before they get back to business for the big show on Sunday afternoon.


“They’re going to be pumped up to win a pole,” Coby said of his Mike Smeriglio Racing team.  “I haven’t won a pole since before I won my first championship, so it’s been since 2011 that I haven’t won a pole.  That’s pretty crazy, but winning a pole and winning races are two different things.


“We come here to win races.  It’s just nice to have a fast car today.  The guys can drink some beers tonight and have some fun.”


A full replay of’s Trackside Now coverage from Saturday at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park can be viewed by clicking here.


-By Brandon Paul, Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51

-Photo credit:


NWMT Icebreaker Qualifying Results

1 2 Doug Coby 18.679
2 44 Bobby Santos 18.735
3 15 Corey LaJoie 18.762
4 13 Ted Christopher 18.770
5 16 Timmy Solomito 18.814
6 58 Eric Goodale 18.822
7 88 Woody Pitkat 18.826
8 07 Patrick Emerling 18.877
9 6 Ryan Preece 18.892
10 35 Derek Ramstrom 18.895
11 40 Ron Silk 18.903
12 8 Donny Lia 18.916
13 22 Tommy Barrett, Jr. 18.942
14 51 Justin Bonsignore 18.955
15 75 Shawn Solomito 18.966
16 31 Steve Masse 19.002
17 4 Todd Szegedy 19.047
18 93 Rowan Pennink 19.048
19 3 Troy Talman 19.063
20 9 Chase Dowling 19.088
21 29 Jon McKennedy 19.106
22 99 Jamie Tomaino 19.132
23 79 James Civali 19.136
24 36 David Sapienza 19.140
25 14 Max Zachem 19.144
26 63 Tom Rogers, Jr. 19.186
27 46 Jeff Goodale 19.187
28 64 Anthony Nocella 18.255
29 37 Dave Salzarulo 19.344
30 18 Ken Heagy 19.392
31 19 Brandon Oltra 19.584
32 33 Johnny Bush 19.629
33 82 Danny Watts, Jr. 19.754
34 26 Gary McDonald 19.959
35 01 Melissa Fifield 21.106

Coby’s New Machine Fast for Two Laps at Thompson