Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Coby Looks to Continue Hot Streak
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The results have always been there for Doug Coby, it's been the stability that was the hurdle. Fortunately for Coby, that's a thing of the past, and now he's a championship contender.
From mid-2007 through the majority of 2010, Coby did whatever it took to compete on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, which required working with seven different teams in just 25 appearances through the four year span. He had 11 top 10s and led five races during that stretch, but stability was not there.
Finally, Coby got the break he needed. Car owner Wayne Darling put the Milford, Conn., driver in his No. 52 for the 2010 finale at Thompson International Speedway where he led 25 laps and drove the car to a third-place finish. The result landed Coby his first full-time ride for 2011, a season in which he finished a career-best fifth in the final standings.
Through 20 races together, Coby and the No. 52 team have posted 14 top 10s and led laps in eight of those outings, highlighted by wins last year at Thompson and this year in the Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway. He backed up that Stafford victory with runner-up effort last time out at Monadnock Speedway and now sits just one out of the championship lead.
Coby and the No. 52 team now head back to Stafford's historic half mile, site of their most recent triumph. While two of his three career Whelen Modified Tour wins have come at Stafford, Coby's experienced mixed success there through the years. The runs he's had with Darling's team, however, have marked the best stretch of his career at the track. Following an accident in their first race there together, the four subsequent appearances have all produced top 10s, including the Sizzler triumph. In 25 previous starts at Stafford - where he's found so much success in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition - he was only able to put together two-consecutive top 10s once.
The TSI Harley-Davidson 125 will be the shortest of the four events this year at Stafford and can likely be run without a pit stop, which will put a premium on track position to start the race, yet another advantage that Coby will have. He's earned the pole in two of his five outings at Stafford in the No. 52.
Coby and the man he's chasing, defending TSI Harley-Davidson 125 winner and Tour champion Silk will head a stacked group of potential race contenders for Friday night's feature. Following afternoon practice and early evening qualifying, the Whelen Modified Tour will follow five divisions of Whelen All-American Series action at approximately 9:15 p.m.
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Tight competition at the top: With just three of 14 races on the 2012 schedule in the books, it might be a little early to talk about the championship standings, but it is worth noting the closeness of the competition at the top. Leader Ron Silk is just one point ahead of Doug Coby, who is three tallies in front of Ryan Preece. After three races last year, Rowan Pennink had a 56-point lead on second-place Silk with Ted Christopher another three points behind in third. The closeness of the standings should be attributed, in part, to the switch to the 43-to-1 points system at the NASCAR touring level for 2012.
Success with new teams: Destined to be tied to each other throughout the season, Ryan Preece and Mike Stefanik have settled in just fine with their new teams. Prior to the 2011 finale, Stefanik moved on from Flamingo Motorsports to team up with Ed Marceau in the No. 66 and Preece replaced Stefanik in the No. 16. In the four races since Preece has earned four-straight poles, won last time out at Monadnock Speedway and currently sits third in the standings. Stefanik is just nine points back of Preece in fourth and has an average finish of seventh in his four starts with Marceau.
Preece joins elite club: With the previously-mentioned fourth-straight pole that he earned at Monadnock, Preece became just the third driver in the 28-year history of the Whelen Modified Tour to be the top qualifier that many times in a row. Mike McLaughlin was the first to accomplish the feat when he took four poles in a row in 1989 and Stefanik established the mark to beat when he nabbed six in a row in 1994.
First driver change already made: After just two races together to start the season, Daniel Hemric has moved on from the Hillbilly Enterprises to focus on stock car racing. Jon McKennedy stepped in last time out at Monadnock to become the sixth driver in the seat of the No. 79 since the beginning of the 2008 season. McKennedy is slated to be in the car this week at Stafford, but the remainder of the season is uncertain.
Home Tracks: Stafford
An Also full-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers, Eric Berndt and Ted Christopher are currently tied for the lead in the SK Modified division standings at Stafford Motor Speedway in weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition. Both have 98 points after two races with a win apiece. Defending track champion Ryan Preece is third with 90 points. Woody Pitkat (Late Model), Dylan Kopec (SK Light Modified), Josh Wood (Limited Late Model) and Cliff Saunders (DARE Stock) are the other division leaders early in the 2012 competition season.
Last Time Out: Monadnock
The most recent NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race was held at Monadnock Speedway on May 12 in Winchester, N.H. Here are some highlights from the Whitcomb 200 pres. by Mobix & Town Fair Tire:
* For the second year in a row, the Monadnock race winner led wire-to-wire from the pole. Ryan Preece captured his fourth career Whelen Modified Tour victory and his ninth career pole at the high-banked quarter mile.
* It marked Preece's third pole in a row to start the season, and fourth-consecutive overall dating to 2011. Preece also set the Tour's qualifying record at Monadnock, his second in a row after also breaking the mark at Stafford Motor Speedway on April 29.
* In his return to the Tour for a spot start after a five-year hiatus, 2000 champion Jerry Marquis was unable to finish the race due to an accident and finished 22nd.
Up Next: Waterford
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl for the first time since 2006 for the Mr. Rooter 161 on Saturday, June 23. The Tour held 17 races at the .375-mile oval from 1985-2006. Raceday will feature afternoon practice and qualifying with the 161-lap feature - a tribute to NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans' No. 61 car - set to go green at approximately 9 p.m.
The Race: The 22nd Annual TSI Harley-Davidson 125 will be the fourth race of 2012 and the second of four events this season at Stafford Motor Speedway.
The Procedure: The starting field is 31 cars, including provisionals. The first 26 cars will have secured starting positions based on two-lap qualifying. The remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 125 laps (62.5 miles).
The Track: A half-mile, slightly-banked oval, Stafford originated as a horse racing track in the 1870s. After seven decades as a horse track, the dirt oval started holding automobile races following World War II. Stafford became a NASCAR track in 1959 and was paved for the first time in 1967.
Race Winners: There have been 31 different race winners at Stafford all-time, led by Mike Stefanik's 20 victories. Three of the last five winners of this event have gone on to capture the season championship, including Ron Silk last year, who led wire-to-wire.
Pole Winners: There have been 40 different pole winners at Stafford, led by Stefanik's 17. Ryan Preece set the track qualifying record in the first race there this year, the Spring Sizzler, at 17.924 seconds (100.424 mph).