DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — When it comes to NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competition at Stafford Motor Speedway, it’s been hard to bet against Doug Coby in his career. The Milford, Connecticut, driver has 10 career wins at the half-mile, along with nine Coors Light Pole awards.
In the last two years, Coby won the Fall Final at Stafford and went on to capture the championship in the season finale at Thompson. And this season, he is heading back to Stafford in position to do the same exact thing. He enters Sunday’s NAPA Fall Final 150 with an 11-point lead in the championship standings over Justin Bonsignore.
Coby only has one victory this season, but has finished inside the top five in nine of the 14 races, including two runner-up finishes at Stafford already this season.
Coby finished 15th this past weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, after leading the most laps. He still left the track with more points than his two challengers: Timmy Solomito finished 24th and Ryan Preece, the points leader entering the weekend, missed the New Hampshire event to run the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Kentucky Speedway.
The four-time series champion is seeking a fourth straight championship and fifth overall, but it isn’t going to come easy. Bonsignore will be hot on his heels after a strong summer stretch has him in a spot to pounce. He leap-frogged Preece and Solomito with a fifth-place finish at New Hampshire.
Behind him, Solomito sits third, just 14 points back from Coby and already with four victories. Rowan Pennink is 17 points out of first, while Preece slid back to fifth – 26 back of Coby.
|Race:||NAPA Fall Final 150|
|Place:||Stafford Motor Speedway, Stafford, Connecticut|
|When:||Sunday, October 1|
|Track Layout:||Half-mile slightly banked asphalt oval|
|2016 Winner:||Doug Coby|
|2016 Polesitter:||Doug Coby|
|Event Schedule:||Saturday, September 30: Garage Opens: 8 a.m., Practice: 10:45-11:20 a.m. & 12-12:45 p.m., Qualifying: 2:30 p.m. Sunday October 1: NAPA Fall Final 150: 3:15 p.m.|
The Race: The NAPA Fall Final 150 is the 15th of 16 championship events on the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule. This is the third and final appearance at the half-mile for this year. Ryan Preece won the first two races at Stafford.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field per the entry blank is 33 cars, including provisionals. The first 27 starting positions will be awarded through the group qualifying process and then there will be six provisionals available, if needed. The race is scheduled for 150 laps (75 miles).
The Track: The Stafford Motor Speedway has held 124 previous NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races, including the first two races there this season. The first race at the half-mile was held in 1985, when Richie Evans went to Victory Lane. The track holds weekly racing under the NASCAR Whelen All American Series sanction.
Race Winners: There have been 32 different drivers that have rolled into Stafford’s Victory Lane. Mike Stefanik leads all drivers with 20 career wins at Stafford. Among active drivers, Doug Coby leads all with 10 career wins. Coby is the defending winner of the NAPA Fall Final 150.
Pole Winners: There have been 44 different Coors Light Pole award winners at Stafford, led by 17 for Mike Stefanik. Doug Coby leads all active drivers with nine career Stafford pole awards. Coby has won seven of the last nine poles there, including six of the last seven.
NAPA Fall Final 150 Notes:
Stafford Retires TC’s 13: Stafford will honor the late Ted Christopher on Sunday by retiring his No. 13. Christopher died on September 16 in a plane crash while en route to Riverhead for a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race. In his career at Stafford, Christopher had 109 career SK Modified wins there and a total of 131 wins in overall competition. He captured nine career championships in the SK Modified division. His number will be retired as part of the pre-race ceremonies.
Preece Is Back: Ryan Preece missed his second race of the season last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in order to compete for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and he finished fourth. However, missing a second race places him fifth in the championship standings, 26 points from the lead with just two races to go. The bright side for Preece comes in the fact that he has won both Stafford races so far this season and has seven career wins at the half-mile in his career. His No. 6 leads the owner’s championship standings by 33 points and could clinch at Stafford if they extend the lead to 48 over second place.
Bonsginore With Momentum: The summer stretch was definitely kind to Justin Bonsignore. The Holtsville, N.Y. driver has finished inside the top six in six of the last seven races on the Whelen Modified Tour. Since getting the ‘band back together’ with crew chief Billy Michael, Bonsignore has been one of the toughest cars to beat each race. However, he sits 11 points behind Coby and will need to gain ground quickly if he wants to enter the finale at Thompson at the top of the standings. In two races at Stafford this season, Bonsignore has a ninth and a third. Even though he hasn’t won a race in his career at Stafford, Bonsignore has 10 top five finishes and 20 finishes inside the top 10. His last six Stafford races have resulted in top 10 runs.
Winning: Through the first 14 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races this season, there have still been only three drivers to visit Victory Lane more than once. Ryan Preece (five), Timmy Solomito (four) and Bobby Santos (two) are in that category. Other than them, Patrick Emerling, Doug Coby and Rowan Pennink have also visited the winner’s circle.
NASCAR HOME TRACKS: SK Mods and Late Models On Racing Card
Stafford will crown two champions on Sunday as part of the NASCAR Whelen All American Series. Going into the race, in the SK Modified championship chase, Keith Rocco holds a four point advantage over Chase Dowling. In the Late Models, Glen Reen holds a 10 point lead over Kevin Gambacorta. On Sunday, the Late Models will run 30 laps, while the SK Modifieds will run 40 laps.