Doug Coby took a big swing during the offseason when his Mike Smeriglio Racing team made the change from a Troyer chassis to a new LFR chassis. When the defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion made the decision, his team had no idea how it would pay off. Leading up to the green flag for the season-opening event on Sunday, even Coby himself still had questions about the new car.
But when his dominant weekend at the Icebreaker 150 ended with a trip to victory lane at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, Coby believes a few of those questions being asked may have been answered.
“It answers a few,” Coby said after the race. “We’ve got a good car at Thompson but that doesn’t mean we’re going to have a good car anywhere else. So hopefully we’re in the running for four wins this year. You just never know and I told you guys this, it’s tough when you make big decisions and to make big changes like that. But when you have guys like (crew chief) Phil (Moran) putting the car together it’s not like this car came from outer space. It’s a Modified and it’s very similar to a Troyer car.”
Coby started the weekend on Saturday afternoon by setting fast time in the only NWMT practice session at the 5/8-mile Connecticut oval. He followed that up by scoring his first Coors Light Pole Award since 2011 and then put the cherry on top by leading 127 of the 150 laps on Sunday afternoon.
“Two laps trying to go fast is very different than trying to keep the car under you for 150 laps,” said the Milford, Connecticut native. “If this was the Thompson 300, I could have run the 300 and it would have been fine. It was a great car. That’s what it was today. Fast engine, great car and nobody screwed up.
“It’s just a good car and does what the driver wants it to do. When you have a car as dominant as it was, you try not to goof up. That was my job today. Don’t be making dumb decisions on restarts and spinning tires and whatnot and the car would take care of itself.”
Following Coby across the finish line was Woody Pitkat, who began his second season in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet No. 88 on Sunday. Pitkat rebounded to finish in the runner-up spot after being black flagged earlier in the race for leaking fluid on the track. His crew fixed the problem under caution and Pitkat got up on the wheel to work his way back to the front during the latter stages.
“It was tough,” said Pitkat, of Stafford, Connecticut. “It was harder to finish second today than it was last year. I can’t thank my guys enough. They kept their composure and kept their cool. I told them that I thought it was maybe leaking power steering fluid. They got under the car and found the leak and tightened up those.
“It was just an awesome job in the pits. I just drove my butt off after that. I had to dodge a couple wrecks there and three-wides and this and that. I was getting really frustrated having to start on the bottom every restart. Finally there at the end I started fourth and my brother-in-law (Bobby Santos) spun his tires pretty good so I was able to get by him.”
After starting on the outside of the front row, Santos would end up being the driver in position to challenge Coby most often throughout the 150-lap feature. He had his chances on restarts, but in the end would never be able to make the inside groove work to his advantage. The driver from Franklin, Massachusetts would settle for a third-place finish.
“I don’t think so,” Santos said with a laugh when asked if he ever thought he had enough to challenge Coby. “Doug was playing with everybody. They have something figured out right now and they’re very good.”
Ted Christopher would battle within the top-five for the majority of the race before crossing the finish line in fourth, while Ryan Preece battled back from being a lap down to round out the top-five.
An on-demand lap-by-lap replay of today’s race can be found by visiting NASCAR Home Tracks Race Central Live powered by Speed51.com at the following link: http://hometracks.nascar.com/nwmt_race-central_041215_Thompson
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com