By: Kyle Souza / Photo: Tom Morris/My Race News
The first 28 wins in Doug Coby’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour career were all exciting for the Milford, Connecticut, driver. Anytime you can stop in Victory Lane on the tour circuit, after beating some of the top Modified talent in the region, you have every right to be thrilled.
Last Saturday at White Mountain Motorsports Park, Coby earned his 29th career win, but this one was a bit different. Coby celebrated his first as a car owner on the Whelen Modified Tour. He opened his own team, Doug Coby Racing, in the recent offseason, after his car owner Mike Smeriglio announced his retirement after the combo picked up Coby’s sixth championship last year.
The road was long. The battle was rough at times. But after three races with his own team, Coby was carrying the checkered flag.
“It’s been a long career and a long road, and I’ve worked with a lot of different teams and people,” Coby said. “Putting the No. 10 team together last winter was a challenge, it was unexpected, and not even really the route that I wanted to take. A lot of people don’t know the conversations that I had that led to nothing, and a lot of the equipment we tried to buy that was already sold, and making sure people and sponsors were still on board. The fact that we have been competitive at the first three events, and getting the win given all of the circumstances put together, it’s a really cool feeling. We kept our sponsors in the light and have everybody seeing that our team is still moving ahead. It’s awesome to see us having success together.”
In the first trip to White Mountain, Coby had a front-seat to a late race battle between Justin Bonsignore and Matt Hirschman, that ended with a bump-and-run that gave Bonsignore the win. Coby would finish third that day in his first effort at the North Woodstock, New Hampshire, oval.
Saturday, he had the car to beat in the second half of the race. After qualifying fifth, Coby watched Jon McKennedy, the pole sitter, lead 133 laps. But he took the top spot from him in the second half of the race and proved he was going to be tough to beat.
Coby took the lead for the final time on lap 184, per NASCAR, and picked up the victory. It gave him sole possession of sixth place on the all-time Whelen Modified Tour wins list, breaking a tie with Bonsignore and Mike Ewanitsko.
“There is no track in America that has a flat spot that long and aggressive,” Coby said of the backstretch at White Mountain. “But I love little short tracks, especially those that have a lot of grip. White Mountain fits my profile as a track where I enjoy racing as often as possible. The track has a lot of little quirks where you have to be savvy about where you put your car, and you might mess up a few times, but you make sure you don’t do it again. You are going to mess up in a 200-lap race and you might miss something by 10 inches, but you can’t do it again. I liked it the first time… this time we went back with a setup that we kicked ourselves that we didn’t have in the first race. I knew from practice that we had a different beast, not to say we were going to win, but I knew if we could keep the car like that the whole race we would be super competitive for all 200 laps. The car just performed when it needed too.”
From the outside looking in, things appear business as usual for Coby at the track, except a different hauler, car number, paint scheme, and team shirts. Does it feel like that on the inside?
“I’d say it’s business as it was before,” Coby said. “Everyone on the No. 2 team had a job and they knew what they had to do… a lot of it is still the same because the people are still the same. We are literally all just wearing different shirts and working on a car with a different number on it. That has been the easiest thing for all of us. Nothing has changed as far as the setups, or anything that we do as a team. We’re trying to get faster.”
Next up for Coby and the rest of the Whelen Modified Tour is Jennerstown Speedway on August 22, an event that is scheduled to have fans. The tour will return to Monadnock Speedway on August 29 for the first time in four years, another event that should have fans. Anything after those two races in the schedule is fluid due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re in a good spot when it comes to people, product sponsors and financial sponsors, to be able to go race to race and get through the season with whatever they hand us for a schedule,” Coby said.