Doug Coby returned to his winning ways on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Sunday afternoon in the renowned NAPA Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway. After finishing fourth in the season-opening Icebreaker at Thompson two weeks prior, Coby started Sunday’s Spring Sizzler from the pole position and led all but seven laps on his way to victory lane.
Coby knew he had the car to beat after winning his fifth straight NWMT pole award on Saturday, but recognized that his competition was at its most dangerous on restarts following the race’s five cautions.
“(We’re) very lucky to have good cars here, that was probably best compared to the other cars I was against.” Coby told the media after the race. “I was pretty confident if I could make it through turn one and two on the first lap of restarts, I would stretch it out. I know how it is when you’re chasing a dominant car, you’re going to overdrive for those first three or four laps after the caution, so I went my hardest to make them go their hardest and eventually when you’re the second or third-place car and you can’t get to the leader you settle in and say ‘I’ll wait for the next caution and try then.’”
The Sizzler’s long length of 200 laps for 100 miles around the half-mile Stafford Motor Speedway coupled with live pit stops meant that teams had to take on fuel during the race. Tour rules forbid teams to fuel while changing tires, turning the race into a two-stop affair. The No. 2 Mike Smeriglio team got Coby out ahead of teams that took similar service both times.
Despite the performance of his driving on track, his crew on pit road and the speed of his car, it was not easy despite what the box score may show.
“It’s never easy, there’s a lot of things that can happen,” stated Coby. “You know how racing works, you can be out front, something happens with a lap car. With the fuel it’s still going to be pretty close even though we took fuel, you don’t know how much you’ll burn. Nothing is ever easy in this series and that’s why we are always very appreciative when we can win and get poles. We just take one race at a time and try to improve from the last time we were at the track.”
Coby was especially appreciative of this win, which was his third in “The Greatest Race in the History of Spring,” the same event where he got his first win on the Whelen Modified Tour 10 years ago. Stafford is also the track that he called home for a number of years when he first began racing full-size cars.
“The Sizzler is probably the biggest one left in terms of history. Aside from winning at one of the NASCAR national tracks, this is the biggest race by far,” Coby remarked. “It’s cool to know that back in 1996 when I first ran a Late Model here, I think I drove into the turn one fence my first lap on the track because the car just wouldn’t turn. Now I got three Sizzler’s and a bunch of other wins here. It’s amazing how fast time goes and you think back to my first win in ’06, ten years ago already and it’s fun to go out with a group of people and keep winning and keep racing.”
Behind Coby, Todd Szegedy and Rowan Pennink battled it out for the second spot with Szegedy eventually winning the battle in his first start of the 2016 campaign for Rob Fuller Motorsports.
“The 3 (Pennink) and I were pretty similar. “I think if it went green I would’ve had a really difficult time getting by him if I could at all, so it was luck of the draw starting on the bottom on that last restart.”
Szegedy, who is running a partial schedule was happy to be in contention for the win, but a little frustrated he couldn’t give Coby a more direct challenge.
“It’s frustrating because I drove my tail off from the time we dropped the green. The last thing I want to do is make a mistake. I couldn’t be aggressive as I wanted to on those restarts just enough to be able to get him.”
Timmy Solomito continued his solid start to the season, backing up his win at Thompson with a solid fourth-place finish.
Coby and Solomito are locked in battle for the points lead heading to the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on May 14. Coby leads Solomito by just one point with Justin Bonsignore in third, just eight points back.
An on-demand lap-by-lap replay of Sunday’s race can be found by visiting NASCAR Home Tracks Race Central Live coverage powered by Speed51.com. Click here
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, LI) – Twitter @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
NWMT NAPA Spring Sizzler Results
|17||28||George Brunnhoelzl III||199|
|32||38||Tom Rogers Jr||91|