LOUDON, N.H. – On June 29 at Riverhead Raceway in Riverhead, N.Y. reigning NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby was at the bottom, emotionally and literally.
After crashing in qualifying for the event at Riverhead, Coby – without a backup car – was forced to watch the fifth event of the Modified Tour season from the sidelines.
In the end, the final results credited Coby with a last place finish in the event, despite the fact that he didn’t even take the green flag.
Saturday Coby rebounded from the Riverhead nightmare in the most perfect fashion possible.
In a three-way battle for victory over the closing laps, Coby came out on top in the Whelen Modified Tour Town Fair Tire 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
It the first victory of the season and eighth career Whelen Modified Tour win for Coby, of Milford. It was his second win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Coby’s last series victory came in the division’s last visit to Loudon last September.
Ted Christopher of Plainville was second and Ryan Preece of Berlin third. It snapped a three-race winning streak for Preece, the series points leader. The race saw 27 lead changes between four drivers.
Coby said his team had left Riverhead deep in the rearview by the time they arrived in Loudon.
“We came here with defending our Loudon win [last September] on our minds,” Coby said. “You forget about the highs and lows. If you dwell on them you’re never going to move forward. If I remember all the lows I’ve had in my career I wouldn’t be where I am today and focused on always being a positive person. Whether Riverhead was last week or four years ago, it’s in the past and I can’t change it.”
The first half of the race saw Christopher and Rowan Pennink embroiled in a heated duel at the front. Christopher and Pennink traded the lead 17 times over the first 42 laps.
Coby put himself into the mix at the front of the field after the halfway break. Coby assumed the lead for the first time on lap 58. From that point, the lead changed hands nine more times between Coby, Christopher and Preece.
Coby took the lead from Preece on lap 97 and then left Christopher and Preece to fight for second place. Christopher went to the high side of Preece on lap 99, but had nothing for Coby over the closing circuit.
“I’ve really studied the draft here and studied Modifieds here and watched a lot of video,” Coby said. “… I feel like I have a great understanding of where I need to be positioned at the end of a race. It’s just a matter of whether I can actually get there. Both wins I wanted to be second on the last lap, I think that’s still the best place to be. It just so happens that we had a caution last September and we won and this time I really think [Christopher] going side-by-side with [Preece] gave me an opportunity to start moving my car around and not give them a good chance to get a good draft on me.
“It was chaotic. … It’s one of those deals where I don’t know how the heck it happened, but it did.”
Christopher said he was sure he could have beat Coby if he hadn’t spent laps 97 and 98 trying to get by Preece.
“I wish I was up a little further,” Christopher said. “What happened is I was too free, so I just couldn’t get really good drive when I wanted it. It took that extra bit to clear Ryan and if I could have cleared him earlier I would have got Doug because I could pass those guys by myself where they always had to pass me by ganging up. But I just wasn’t close enough.”
Coby moved from fifth to third in the standings and now sits 48 points behind Preece at the top of the standings.
“Everybody is handing the championship to Ryan and they’re such a strong team, but the [No. 52] team won the championship last year and we’re going to go for it again this year and I’m really proud of them,” Coby said.
—- Follow RaceDayCT at Facebook
—- Follow RaceDayCT on Twitter