DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — As the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour enters the final six races of the 2017 season, four-time champion Doug Coby has yet to visit Victory Lane. And that would come as a surprise to most.
The Milford, Connecticut, driver had three finishes outside the top 10 in the first four races and dug himself a deep hole in the championship standings in his search for a fourth consecutive championship. However, as the tour rolls into Massachusetts’ only oval, Seekonk Speedway, Coby could be hitting his stride at exactly the right time. The 38-year-old has finished second in the last three races and has been inside the top five in five of the last six. The runs inside the podium have allowed Coby to crawl his way back to just 19 points from the championship lead in fourth place.
“It’s game on, these guys are letting us back into it,” Coby said following his podium run at Bristol. “I’m just chipping away and trying to win races. We have three second places in a row and we have been in contention to win every week since the Icebreaker and that’s really all you can ask for.”
Heading for Seekonk, Coby has plenty of experience to lean on around the third-mile oval. He is a two-time winner of Seekonk’s “Open Wheel Wednesday” Tour-Type Modified show and he finished second in last year’s Tour race at the third-mile. A win at Seekonk could put him right in a position to taste another title heading for the final stretch.
Following the Seekonk 150, the series will visit Oswego, Riverhead, New Hampshire, Stafford and Thompson before the champion is crowned. Coby has victories at four of those five tracks.
Race: Seekonk 150
Place: Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway
Time: 8 p.m.
2016 Winner: Timmy Solomito
2016 Pole Winner: Doug Coby
Track Layout: 0.333-mile asphalt oval
TV Telecast: NBCSN, Saturday Sept. 2, 9 p.m.
Event Schedule: Garage Opens: 12:15 p.m., Final Practice: 3-4:15 p.m., Qualifying: 5:30 p.m., Seekonk 150: 8 p.m. (approx)
Track Twitter: @seekonkspeedway
Event Hashtag: #Seekonk150
The Race: The Seekonk 150 will mark the 11th of 16 championship events on the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule. It is the first and only appearance at the Massachusetts oval this season.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field per the entry blank is 28 cars, including provisionals. The first 22 positions will be determined through the qualifying process, while there will also be six provisionals available. The race is scheduled for 150 laps (49.99 miles).
The Track: A 0.333-mile asphalt oval, Seekonk has operated continuously since its opening in 1946 and original builder and owner D. Anthony Venditti ran the speedway untll his passing in 1991. For the next 14 years, it was operated by his wife, Irene, and now it operates under the guidance of Francis and David Alburn. Billed as the “Action Track of the East,” the track runs as part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series with the Pro Stocks as the top class each Saturday night.
Race Winners: There have been seven different winners in the seven previous NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races at Seekonk . Reggie Ruggiero won the inaugural stop at the third-mile in 1987. Last season, Timmy Solomito drove into Victory Lane.
Pole Winners: Much like the race winners, there have been seven different drivers to capture a pole award in the seven races. Last season, Doug Coby scored the Coors Light Pole Award. Tommy Cravenho holds the one-lap qualifying record with a time of 102.121 mph, which was set in June of 2000.
Seekonk 150 Notes:
Tight Points Battle: Entering the Seekonk 150, the fight for the Whelen Modified Tour championship continues to heat up. After his lap 68 crash at Bristol, Timmy Solomito holds just a two-point advantage in the standings over Rowan Pennink. Ryan Preece sits third, just 10 from the lead, while Coby and Justin Bonsignore round out the top five. The top six drivers in the championship chase are seperated by just 31 points with six races left on the schedule. Just two of them (Preece and Coby) are former champions.
Zachem’s Time To Shine: Preston, Connecticut driver Max Zachem has yet to visit Victory Lane in his career on the Whelen Modified Tour. Even though he has a best finish of second at Thompson last June, Zachem has put together some of his best efforts on the smaller tracks thus far. With a new car this season, he has six top 10s in nine starts. Even though he finished 13th at Seekonk last season, watch for Zachem to be in contention in the final laps. He has plenty of track-time at Seekonk in Tour-Type Modifieds and even tested there over the last few weeks.
Solomito Looking To Rebound: Last Wednesday, the Bush’s Beans 150 didn’t go exactly the way Timmy Solomito was hoping it would. When the Islip, New York driver crashed, he was forced to a finish outside the top 10, losing some crucial points. Entering Seekonk, Solomito will be looking to gain back some lost points. Luckily for him, the Massachusetts third-mile oval is a great place to get that job done. Solomito has found success on tracks under a half-mile in his career, winning at his hometown Riverhead, Monadnock and even Seekonk last year. The Seekonk 150 is a great place for Solomito to get back on track and solidify himself as the title favorite.
Owner’s Battle Shaping Up: Though Timmy Solomito leads the driver’s point standings, there is an owner’s championship battle that is heating up as the series hits the final six races. Even though Ryan Preece missed a race at Langley, George Brunnhoelzl III sat behind the wheel of the No. 6 and got the car the points it needed to stay in the chase. Right now, the Ed Partridge owned machine sits 17 points ahead of the No. 16. Preece will miss a second race at New Hampshire in September, but Partridge tabbed Jon McKennedy to drive for him.
Winning: In the first 11 races, just five drivers have been able to roll into Victory Lane. Ryan Preece and Timmy Solomito are the only two drivers will multiple wins. Bobby Santos, Rowan Pennink and Patrick Emerling have also graced the winner’s circle.
NASCAR Home Tracks: Late Models On Racing Card
Although the Division I Pro Stocks will have the night off, the Seekonk Speedway Everett’s Auto Parts Late Models will take center stage with a 35 lap feature as part of the NASCAR Whelen All American Series. The Sports Trucks and Sportsman will also join the action.
-NASCAR Home Tracks Press Release
-Photo Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images