Ryan Preece came into World Series weekend at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) with rumors swirling around him about whether he will stay with the Flamingo Motorsports No. 16 or leave the team after the season finale for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He told Speed51.com powered by JEGS earlier in the week that his only focus was on finishing the season out on a high note. It’s safe to say he did just that after scoring his first ever NWMT win at Thompson.


Preece qualified second on Saturday night and started alongside Woody Pitkat, but he quickly got to the lead after passing Pitkat on the ninth lap of the race.


The 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion had the dominant car by far, but had to endure a green-white-checkered restart that was set up when Doug Coby came to a stop with a flat right-front tire.


The restart didn’t faze Preece as he quickly jumped out to a big lead over the rest of the field and left Donny Lia in the dust. Preece beat Lia to the checkered flag by over half a second.


“We did it in dominant fashion running the bottom like that,” said Preece. “This car was just on rails. Sly Szaban (crew chief) did a great job. The whole Flamingo team were working their tails off.”


Preece was in a Roush-YatesNASCAR spec engine built by Bob Bruneau and the power under the hood showed. After pitting under caution on lap 73, Preece came back from about the sixth position to the lead in just three laps.


“From the drop of the green flag I knew my car was good,” said Preece. “I didn’t realize that I was going to be able to get to the front as quickly as I did. That really shocked me.”


While Preece was fighting for the win up front, Coby was battling for a championship.


Coby ran a clean race all afternoon long before he hit the wall off turn two and flattened the right-front tire with just a few laps to go. He came to a stop in turn four to bring out the caution and also to not destroy his car by driving around on the rim. Coby was penalized one lap as a result by NASCAR.


That one lap is the only lap that Coby didn’t complete all season long. That was a goal that he and his team had set midway through the year. Another one was to score a top ten in every race this season. They also failed to complete that one. But Coby is mostly okay with that. The big goal, the championship, was reached.


“I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get a top ten,” said Coby. “No champion has ever finished in the top ten in every race on the Modified Tour during their championship season. We had just a great year. I’m really happy for my guys for putting up with me and doing all the things that they do away from their families. This is for my car owner, Mike Smeriglio, and for Phil Moran (his crew chief). I’m just happy I could be the piece of the puzzle that they thought they were missing and bring it home for them.”


Coby has finished no worse than second in points the last three years. He won the 2012 championship and finished second to Preece last season.


Coby came into the season finale having to just finish 24th or better to secure the championship. He finished 17th which secures him his second NWMT championship.


“That’s horrible,” he said with a big laugh. “That’s the worst. That could use a little improvement. But I don’t care anymore. We won. We are the champs.”


-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, CT and NJ) -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Feature Photo Credit: Speed51.com.


NWMT Sunoco World Series Unofficial Results:
1) Ryan Preece
2) Donny Lia
3) Rowan Pennink
4) Ron Silk
5) Justin Bonsignore
6) Matt Hirschman
7) Spencer Davis
8) Eric Goodale
9) Max Zachem
10) Timmy Solomito
11) Patrick Emerling
12) Tommy Barrett Jr.
13) Jamie Tomaino
14) David Calabrese
15) John Beatty Jr.
16) Wade Cole
17) Doug Coby
18) Glen Reen
19) Kyle Ellwood
20) Ted Christopher
21) Troy Talman
22) Melissa Fifield
23) Danny Watts
24) Todd Szegedy
25) Dave Salzarulo
26) James Cavali
27) Derek Ramstrom
28) Bobby Santos
29) Dave Sapienza
30) Ken Heagy
31) Gary McDonald
32) Jason Agugliaro
33) Keith Rocco
34) Frank Vigliarolo
35) Woody Pitkat
36) Shawn Solomito

Preece Dominates, Coby Surives to Win Title at Thompson