After a rollercoaster kind of day for Doug Coby, the five-time NASAR Whelen Modified Tour champion prevailed to win the season opener Saturday afternoon at Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC).
Defending NWMT champion Justin Bonsignore set the pace in practice for the ground-pounding Modifieds, but it was Coby who laid down the quickest lap in time trials to claim the pole for the 150-lap feature.
Bad luck struck Coby before he even strapped into the race car, as his No. 2 Modified suffered a flat left-front tire following the 0n-track autograph session. After changing the tire, the team was sent to the rear of the field for an unapproved tire change before the start of the race.
“It was a crazy race,” Coby said. “We went to the back after getting a flat from being forced to drive off-road basically and pick something up. Started in the back, worked our way up and get in a jingle, go to the back and work our way up again. Then pit strategy came into play.
“They all pitted on lap 55 for right rears and we ended up putting our time trial tire on, which is a harder compound and had quite a few more laps on it,” Coby explained. “I thought I was turning some respectful times in those last 90 laps or so with it. We just stuck to our strategy to get as many tires as we could with 50 laps to go.”
The strategy paid off as Coby charged to the front of the field, making the pass on Kyle Eberole for the lead on lap 122 of the 150-lap race and never looking back.
“The stats are going to say that we started first and finished first, but in all reality we started 32nd and finished first,” Coby said. “That’s really cool for our team. I’m really proud of everybody. Nobody lost their cool. The biggest thing about Modified racing is you don’t lose your cool when things are out of your control and it ended up working in our favor.”
After a disappointing season last year with one victory and a third-place finish in the standings, Coby was thrilled to kick the 2019 season off on a high note.
“We were disappointed not to have won races last year,” Coby said. “We were actually disappointed that in the last two years in a row that we had only one won race, and now here we are in 2019 and we are one-for-one. It feels really good to start off with a win.”
Saturday’s win was the 25th NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory of Coby’s career and his first at the tricky Myrtle Beach Speedway.
Jon McKennedy, last year’s winner at Myrtle Beach, led a race high 64 laps before settling for a runner-up finish in the Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 7NY. Jimmy Blewett, driving for Gershow Motorsports, completed the podium.
Former RoC Asphalt Modified Series champion Patrick Emerling finished fourth and two-time Valenti Modified Racing Series champion Chris Pasteryak rounded out the top five.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be back in action on March 30 at South Boston Speedway (VA).
Race fans can find on-demand updates, photos and more from Saturday’s NWMT season opener by visiting Speed51’s Race Day Now coverage.
-Story by: Madison Mabry, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com