Doug Coby’s race-winning streak may have come to an end two weeks ago at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, but the Milford, Connecticut driver continued another streak Saturday afternoon at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT).
Coby, of Milford, Connecticut, became one step closer to the history books by winning his fifth straight NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour pole award during qualifying for the Spring Sizzler 200. The two-time defending NWMT champion became just the second driver in tour history to accomplish that feat joining legendary driver Mike Stefanik.
“Anytime you match Mike Stefanik for anything (it’s good), it’s just the team and Mike will tell you the same thing,” said Coby after qualifying. “You’ve got to drive good cars to do this stuff. There’s a lot of us with experience out there now and I guess I’m one of the more experienced guys now that a lot of guys have retired.”
After posting the fastest time in Saturday’s final practice, Coby knew he had what he needed to win the pole.
“We just have a good qualifying setup,” Coby said confidently. “I feel confident in the car now after so many poles with the thing that I just have to go drive whatever it is and it’s probably going to be fast. It might not be perfect, but it’s probably going to be fast.”
Though Coby believes starting up front is important in any race, the extra length of the Spring Sizzler at 200 laps and 100 miles puts an added importance on winning the pole.
“It helps because this is such a long race you just want to settle in,” he said. “Hopefully when you’re out front you can just ride around and fine tune the car for the end of the race. It’s always nice to start up front no matter what, but this one especially. It’s nice to go out to the Pit Party Sunday, people ask how you qualify, and tell them you’re on the pole so they watch you.”
Jimmy Blewett will start alongside Coby on the front row Sunday. After an unstable setup at the Icebreaker, the Mystic Missile team took most of practice to work on race setup, while taking a shot at qualifying trim.
“Practice, we focused on race trim then we were about qualifying. We went into it a little dark, we didn’t do a mock time trial run,” said Blewett. “We scuffed the tires without trying to go for speed. To get the car on the front row definitely takes a lot of pressure off for Sunday.”
Four-time NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III made the trip to Stafford, Connecticut and clocked in third on Saturday, while Ron Silk qualified fourth and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five in his first start of the 2016 season.
Ryan Preece, who finished second in the season-opening Icebreaker, is entered in the Eddie Partridge No. 6, but was in Richmond, Virginia for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Saturday afternoon. Long Island racer Kyle Ellwood practiced and qualified the car for Preece, who will return to Connecticut on Sunday to race the car.
Woody Pitkat looked to have one of the fastest cars in practice, but the Kevin Stuart No. 85 slowed on his first qualifying lap. A broken crank was the early suspect as the crew scrambled to see if they can repair the car for the race.
The 2016 NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour rolls off Sunday at approximately 3:15 p.m. ET. Live coverage of the race can be seen by visiting NASCAR Home Tracks’ Race Central Live coverage powered by Speed51.com. Coverage is scheduled to begin at noon ET.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, LI) – Twitter @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
NWMT Spring Sizzler Qualifying Results
|3||28||George Brunnhoelzl III||18.212|
|16||38||Tom Rogers Jr||18.468|