WATERFORD – What is it that’s said about payback?
In 2012 the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returned to the Waterford Speedbowl and Doug Coby and Ryan Preece gave the fans what they were looking for with a banging battle on a green-white-checkered final restart to end the race. In that event it was Coby who used some strategic banging into the side Preece over the closing flurry of action to secure the win.
Saturday night at the Waterford Speedbowl, Preece got to exact his revenge.
In another green-white-checkered finished, Preece got by Coby in a full-contact battle for victory to win the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Mr. Rooter 161 at Waterford.
The race was extended to 166 laps because of a late caution. It was the second consecutive Whelen Modified Tour victory for Preece, of Berlin, who won on June 14 at Stafford Motor Speedway.
“It was a race man,” Preece said. “I just remember from last year when we went a little high. I did what he did and we made a race out of it. We may not have had the best car, but we have one of the best teams here. … I wanted to win this race more than anything.
“All the restarts before Doug was just killing me. I couldn’t get the drive up off. This one we just timed it right and it was unreal.”
Coby, of Milford, held on for second and Donny Lia of Jericho, N.Y. was third. Coby was left questioning a procedural call by NASCAR on the final restart.
On the decisive final restart, Coby, as the leader of the race, chose to restart in the outside lane.
When the green flag flew the two went side-by-side into turn one with Preece getting into the side of Coby’s car. The side-by-side duel went on into turns three and four, with Preece giving Coby another shot from the low lane.
Preece led on the outside at the start-finish line with the white flag showing and beat Coby to checkered by .110 of second.
“I knew he was going to drive into my door if he was next to me,” Coby said. “I was planning on being clear of him so he couldn’t get to my door. Side-by-side going into [turn] one I said, I know I’m getting a door-shot here because I kind of gave it to him last year so I think that’s fine. I didn’t think I deserved to get it again. I got it back the second time. The first time was ‘Hey, go away’, the second time was just a blatant right hand turn. But you’re winning a race so I don’t necessarily blame him because I probably would have done the same thing.”
Before the final caution flew, Coby had about a 10-car length lead over Preece, who chalked up the late race contact to hard racing for a win.
“I held my line on the bottom and there was a little bit of banging and bumping, but nothing to take him out of contention and we won the race,” Preece said. “Final lap, green-white-checkered. Last year the [hit] he gave me was enough to put me back to third. So I guess if you add the two [hits] together it kind of adds up to what it was last year.”
Coby was upset after the event for the way the final restart was ruled on by series officials.
Series rules state the leader of the race is supposed to cross the start-finish line first on restarts, barring visible issues by the leader to get started seen by series officials.
On the final restart, Preece actually did beat Coby to the finish line by .021 of a second.
Over the last two seasons Rowan Pennink and Jimmy Blewett have had what were seemingly victories in the series taken away for issues with the restart rule.
“If they’re going to stay consistent with the rules, they should have told him to give [the lead] back and give it back doesn’t mean drive into your door and take off,” Coby said. “I’m not so much upset at Ryan hitting me, I’m upset with the lack of consistency with the rules.
“I think it’s a questionable call and I think you err towards the leader. You don’t err towards, ‘Hey this is a great finish.’ So, is it sour grapes? I’m pissed because I lost. I had the dominant car, no question about it.”
Series director Jimmy Wilson, communicating a message through spokesperson Jason Cunningham saying that officials felt Coby got himself sideways on the restart, and that combined with the miniscule advantage led to the decision not to call Preece for jumping the start.
“If they would have told me to give [the lead] back I would have given it back,” Preece said. “I just felt like I did everything I needed to do try and at least stay with him. If I didn’t stay with him he obviously would have probably won that race and we’re here to put on a show for the fans.”
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