That, of course, is six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion and Connecticut native, Doug Coby.
Six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby is preparing to be the first “Balboa” driver in the Camping World SRX Series this weekend at Stafford Motor Speedway.
On Tuesday afternoon, we spoke with Coby to get his thoughts heading into the SRX opening round at Stafford, as well as on being the first short track driver to participate and his feeling on the air of celebration from his fans and supporters.
“Honestly, it’s not even about me. It’s more about the spotlight on the short track community, the facilities, and somebody just getting the chance to race,” said Cody humbly. “I’m happy to be the one to do it and it’s awesome to be tapped by Ray to be the first guy to represent in a sense. But at the same time, I understand that it’s a big deal to have eyes on what we do on a weekly basis.”
Ever the racer, Coby’s main focus is on the race itself, particularly on the new racecars that will make up the SRX field and how they are designed to be “imperfect”.
“I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit, every one of us spends every practice session and every qualifying and race trying to make our cars perfect. Often times, we lose races because somebody else was perfect and we weren’t. The interesting thing about this series is none of the cars are going to be perfect and nobody’s really going to have a chance to make them perfect. If they just said, ‘Here’s your car, take it home for three weeks, and comeback for a race at Stafford,’ then all of us would comeback with different ideas for the car,” Coby explained.
“The fact that they’ve never been raced on a track, it’s going to be interesting to see how racy they are, and if they’re not, how we’re able to adapt to put on a show. I think that’s what Ray is looking forward to is seeing when you take this car, that he acknowledges that it isn’t meant to be a perfect asphalt oval car, what are we going to do with them. It’s fun and nerve-wracking.”
Leaning on his more than two decades of racing experience at Stafford will be key to Coby’s approach to the race.
Obviously, with my time at Stafford, I know what I want to feel at Stafford, and I know what a winning car feels like at Stafford. I might be in a car that feels totally different, but I have to just make the best of it, and go out there and use my knowledge of the track with all the little tricks I’ve learned over the years of surviving a race there, we’ll see how it works.
Willy T. Ribbs grabbed the headlines some weeks back when asked about what kind of racing the fans would expect, with the veteran road racer suggesting a lot of aggression over the six week span. Coby is also plenty ready to mix it up, but he doesn’t want to see any extra action spoil a potentially good finish.
“Yeah, it fires me up. I just hope that they’re not fired up so much that they get a little too crazy a little too early,” Coby chuckled.
“I can bang wheels, nerf bars, fenders, and bumpers with the best of them if push comes to shove; I’m certainly not going to get shoved around. But at the same time, I want to make sure that I’m in a position strategically to be there when it matters, and hopefully have tire and racecar left, whether I’m towards the front or towards the back and have to try to get back to the front as the race unfolds.”
For all 12 drivers on Saturday, the big word of race day will be “unknowns.” While there’s been a lot of explanations about the event formats in the leadup to the event, there’s still information that Coby is a bit hazy on at the moment.
“There are still some things I still don’t know about the format in terms of what adjustments we’re going to be able to make and when. Also, what we are going to get for sets of tires in the race or halfway through the race, and that’s going to change my strategy. My guys who I work with on the tour on my team will tell you that I’m thinking strategy, thinking pitting, and thinking adjustments from the second we get to the racetrack, and I have to see what they tell us at the driver’s meeting. I’ve heard rumors that we may only get one set of tires for the whole day, and that could be something reflected in my strategy if that were the case.”
Should he nail down the superior race and win the night, Coby would rank the accomplishment very high in his list of racing achievements. But once again, for humble reasons.
Again, more so just about the spotlight on the short track community, and CBS being there live in front of a huge national audience of people who may not even care to follow NASCAR, IndyCar or road racing; that just have CBS on a Saturday night. I think it’s really important for all of us to put on a show that will make people want to tune in the following week at Knoxville. That to me is the most important thing and I’m going to do my part.
Thankful for the opportunity, Coby does not want to be a burden to the SRX crew either.
“I know these guys have limited cars, I think it’s 16 or 17 chassis and I don’t want to be responsible for causing those guys who have been working so hard to get ready for Stafford to have extra work to get ready for Knoxville.”
Finally, Coby shared the two things that he wants to see come out of this coming Saturday night.
“First and foremost, I hope we put on a show. Secondly, I hope it’s a show that I’d be able to capitalize and take advantage of to have it reflect in a positive manner in how difficult it is to race at Stafford; whether you’re a Superstar or a young kid trying to come up through the Friday divisions. It’s not an easy place to race, I’m ready to go and show them what I got.”
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Correspondent – Twitter: @Connor51CT