On Wednesday night at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT), defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby “ruffled some feathers” during his charge back through the field. A pass-through penalty with 50 laps to go caused Coby to have to come from mid-pack in order to take his third straight win at the Connecticut oval.
Coby is well-respected in the garage area. And that’s a good thing, because he definitely didn’t make any friends with how he drove, and specifically with how he got the lead from Woody Pitkat. Coby drove deep into turn three and washed up into Pitkat’s left-side nerf bar in a shower of sparks before pulling away to the checkered flag.
But Coby doesn’t mind. He’s out to win races, and he did just that on Wednesday night.
“I have no regrets. With anything,” Coby told Speed51.com on Thursday afternoon. “I know everybody on my team supports me. It was our win and we went out and got it.”
Coby said he thought a lot after the race about the pass and how he got the win and if it was or was not the right thing to do. But after thinking about it, he said he still believes that he did do the right thing.
“I have no doubt that if someone else was in the same position where they dominated the whole race, whether it’s Justin Bonsignore, Woody or Ted Christopher or anybody, that if they had the opportunity on the restart with eight to go to make a move like that, I have no doubt in my mind that the same move would have happened if I was on the outside getting passed,” Coby explained.
Part of the reason why the move was made is because that’s just what racing at Thompson has become. It’s rough racing, especially late in the race when battling for a win. But in the two prior races at Thompson this year, Coby hasn’t had to do that. He’s been out front way ahead of anyone else. However, when push comes to shove, Coby isn’t afraid to shove back, especially when he’s in the mix of a heated points battle with Pitkat and Ryan Preece.
“I’m never going to be one of those people that says that I don’t race that way, because I’ve said it before that I do,” said the two-time champion. “I don’t necessarily like that I race that way all the time, but the bottom line is that we are in a tight points battle and that’s a 10-point swing pretty much to get the lead. You do whatever you have to do to get it. I’m looking out for me and only me at that point in time.”
After the race, third-place finisher and 2003 NWMT champion Todd Szegedy said Coby’s pass on Pitkat was “uncalled for.” Coby said he was surprised at those comments, but he also said he doesn’t care if Szegedy or anybody else agrees with the move he made.
“That’s probably the first time I’ve heard a driver that wasn’t any part of the deal have any comment on it,” Coby said. “Todd and Woody are both friends of mine. But when we’re out there we are racing for a win, and I don’t think any of us can be overly critical of others because we all do the same stuff. I certainly would not finish third and call someone out on what they did to win the race. I might think it to myself but I have a little bit of a better filter than Todd does.”
Lost in all of the post-race drama was a touching tribute by Coby to John Blewett III, who died in the August race at Thompson eight years ago.
During Coby’s Polish victory lap he came to a stop in turn one where Blewett crashed on August 16, 2007. He then dropped the checkered flag on the track and drove away.
“The tribute was not something that I had planned,” he said. “I took a polish victory lap and as I got to turns one and two I was kind of like ‘Wow.’ I was just going to stop there and let everyone know that’s what I was doing and kind of have a moment of silence. But then I had the idea to toss the flag out there and leave it for him. It was not planned; it was spur of the moment. I guess it meant a lot to a lot of people and that means a lot to me.”
Coby said he and Blewett were never very close, but he always respected Blewett, as well as Tom Baldwin who also perished in the August race at Thompson a couple years prior to Blewett. He respected the way the two hard-nosed drivers raced, especially Blewett.
“He was a driver that was so aggressive and so talented and so respected in the pit area for his talents behind the wheel, but also for setting up a race car,” said Coby. “And in the last 20 laps I felt like I drove a lot like John would have if he was in the same situation.”
That’s a big part of the reason why Coby said he has no regrets on how he went about the latter stages of Wednesday’s race.
“I kind of ruffled some feathers,” he said. “But John would have ruffled some feathers too, so I’m okay with it.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Scott Martin photo