Before Doug Coby could drive to victory lane at Stafford Motor Speedway Friday night, he had to withstand two postponements of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour TSI Harley-Davidson 125. Then that wait had to be lengthened even further through a green-white-checkered restart at the Connecticut half mile.
The three-week and extra-lap wait was worth it for Coby.
The 34-year-old from Milford, Connecticut dominated the 125-lap feature at Stafford Friday for his 10th career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win. He held off polesitter Bobby Santos III and Justin Bonsignore on a final green-white-checkered restart for his first points win of the 2014 season and first with his new Mike Smeriglio-owned No. 2 race team.
“I’m sure you heard me lifting at the start-finish line for as long as I could because I knew it was going to happen. I knew a caution was going to come out,” said Coby. “I just tried to save what I could and I knew that Bobby and a couple guys behind us also didn’t pit. But then I saw the 51 (Bonsignore) and he pitted with tires.”
Bonsignore slipped by Santos on the final restart, but was left disappointed with a scoring decision that kept him from a challenge for the win.
“We got robbed,” said Bonsignore. “We were third right before that last yellow for two laps and they put us back to fourth. That was just enough to slow us down on the last restart. Hat’s off to my crew chief Billy Michael. Hell of a call to come in with 20 to go to put rears (tires) on. Sometimes you just need things to fall your way and pass people, a couple people washed up in front of us and we were in position, but I feel like we got robbed.”
Coby took the lead from Santos on lap seven and showed the way for the remainder of the race. The victory puts an exclamation point on an already strong start to the 2014 season. After leaving Wayne Darling’s No. 52 team that he won a NWMT championship with in 2012, Coby partnered with the Smeriglio team before the 2014 season and the success rolled in right off the bat.
Coby won the 2014 UNOH Battle at the Beach non-points event at Daytona International Speedway and ran strong at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida. The NWMT point season started for Coby with a third-place finish in the opener at Thompson Speedway and continued with a runner-up finish in the Spring Sizzler at Stafford.
“This car has been awesome every time we’ve taken it out,” added Coby. “Daytona, New Smyrna, Thompson, Sizzler, here. It’s awesome to be with these guys. Some of the guys came over with me from the 52, a move that was difficult for me to make, but I’m happy with this 2 car.”
Santos, who set fast time in qualifying when it was held on its original race date of May 23, finished third.
“The first part of the race I knew they were a little better, so I was just saving something for a last-ditch effort. I wish that last yellow didn’t come out because I think we had a shot at Doug. I’m happy with another good finish.”
Rowan Pennink and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top five in the TSI Harley-Davidson 125. Ron Silk, Patrick Emerling, Ted Christopher, Ryan Preece and Glen Reen rounded out the top 10.
In other action Friday night at Stafford, Preece won his third-consecutive NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature of the season over Eric Berndt and Joey Cipriano. Tom Fearn won the 30-lap Late Model feature over Jay Stuart and Cory Casagrande.
Next up for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is the June 21 Mr. Rooter 161 at Waterford Speedbowl in Waterford, Connecticut.
– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Diretor – Twitter: @mattkentfield. Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR