(Stafford Springs, CT)---For the past two seasons on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Doug Coby and Ryan Preece have been the two main protagonists in the chase for the championship with Coby beating Preece by 11 points in 2012 and Preece beating Coby last year by a 32 point margin. Fast forward to the 2014 season and Coby is once again in the thick of the NWMT championship race, only this time around his main rival is Justin Bonsignore.
When it comes to Whelen Modified Tour racing at Stafford, Coby would seem to have a slight upper hand on Bonsignore. In the three Stafford races this season, Coby has finishes of second and fourth to go along with a victory in the June TSI Harley-Davidson 125 for an average finish of 2.3 while Bonsignore has recorded finishes of fifth, second, and eighth for an average finish of 5.0. While Bonsignore’s average finish of 5.0 is hardly something to sneeze at, it doesn’t quite match the 2.3 average of Coby, which is way Coby says he prefers to be right where he is in the driver’s seat in the championship race.
“I think I’d rather be leading the points at any time during the season than be chasing,” said Coby. “When you’re chasing points, it can get a bit frustrating when you have good finishes and the guy that you’re chasing is also having good runs kind of like I did last year when I was chasing Ryan [Preece]. Both Justin and myself have been getting good finishes so I don’t think there’s a lot of pressure on either of us. The last time out at Stafford we were just a little bit off with the car and we finished fourth, so that’s definitely a good feeling to have knowing the car was a little off and we still managed to finish fourth. We know why the car was a little off so for the Fall Final we’ll make changes to the car that we wish we had made before the feature in August and we feel pretty confident we’ll have another good car. Stafford is a track where if you’re fast in time trials, you’re usually going to have a fast car in the race where at Riverhead, you might not have a car that will last for 200 laps and at New Hampshire your car might not be that good in the draft and you can slide backwards. I think that Stafford has proven to be my strongest track on the Tour the last couple of years and I’m hoping that it stays that way.”
Coby and Bonsignore are separated by only 4 points and with races upcoming at Riverhead and New Hampshire before the Tour comes to Stafford on Sept. 27-28 for the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final weekend, who will be leading the points standings heading to Stafford is anyone’s guess.
“I would say those two tracks are wildcards for everybody,” said Coby. “You never know what is going to happen at those places. It’s easy to get caught up in something at Riverhead and at a place like New Hampshire, you can be running good and have a late race caution and then if you get caught up in a wreck you could finish 25th. Whether it’s me, Justin, Teddy, Bobby, Ryan, or any of those guys in the points race, we all run pretty well at the remaining tracks on the schedule and we just have to keep on doing what we’ve been doing all season long and race for every position we can at all the tracks. I think it’s going to come down to who doesn’t screw up during the last 4 races of the season.”
Coby joined forces with the Mike Smeriglio owned #2 team in the off-season and the new combination paid immediate dividends as they won the season opening non-points feature at Daytona. Coby says that win has helped carry the team to the positon that they now enjoy at the head of the point standings.
“I think the race at Daytona certainly set the tone for the season and it definitely helped our confidence,” said Coby. “When you’re going into the season and you’re not sure if thing are going to work out or not, winning at Daytona made our season a success regardless of what happens the rest of the year. I think everyone on the team is comfortable with each other and we’re all pretty well jelled together at this point. Everyone on the team, from me as the driver, to Phil [Moran] as the crew chief, down to the crew guys, we all do whatever the team needs us to do and everyone is on the same page. We feel pretty confident and we’ll see what happens these last four races.”
The Whelen Modified Tour cars will qualify for the NAPA Fall Final 150 on Saturday, Sept. 27 before hitting the track for 150 laps on Sunday, Sept. 28. Tickets for the 42nd Annual NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend are priced at $38.50 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $42.00 for all ages. All NAPA Fall Final tickets are good for admission on both Saturday and Sunday and ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Visit your local participating NAPA Auto Parts Store for discount ticket offers.
For more information on the 42nd Annual NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend, or to order tickets, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.
-Stafford Motor Speedway Press Release. Photo Credit- Rick Ibsen/Speed51.com.