A year ago Doug Coby left Loudon, N.H. in July celebrating his second consecutive NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but still looking up in the standings at Ryan Preece ahead of him.
Coby never did find a way to catch Preece last year.
This week Coby heads to Loudon looking to grab a third career Whelen Modified Tour victory at the 1.058-mile NHMS oval and extend his points lead as the division heads to the halfway mark of the 2014 season.
Saturday’s Whelen Modified Tour Sunoco 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway marks the sixth of 14 events on this year’s series schedule.
A sixth place run at the Hoosier 200 at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway on June 28 vaulted Coby into the series points lead. Coby, the 2012 series champion, heads to Loudon with a seven point lead over second place Bobby Santos III in the standings. Justin Bonsignore is third in the standings, eight points behind Coby. Ted Christopher is fourth in the standings, 10 points off the lead.
“I came out of Riverhead on a positive this time, for the first time in a long time,” Coby said. “We had a decent finish and grabbed the points lead,” Coby said. “I’d like to be up 30 [points] going into Loudon, but somebody has to be the points leader so I’m happy that it’s us. It’s kind of getting to crunch time now. It’s the mid-summer and the mid-summer kind of determines who’s going to be around at the end of the fall. You’ve got to start the season off strong, which we did. Then you’ve got to survive the short track races, which we kind of did.”
While Coby has won two of the past three Whelen Modified Tour events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, both of those victories came running for Wayne Darling. Now he is actually running for the most recent Whelen Modified Tour winning team at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Todd Szegedy won driving for Mike Smeriglio Racing last year September in Loudon. Szegedy was released from the team after the 2013 season and Coby, who finished second to Preece in the standings last year, left Darling’s team to replace Szegedy at Smeriglio Racing.
“It’s one of those things where we go to Loudon and we have a lot of confidence,” Coby said. “We tested really well, we know we’re going to have a fast car. But it’s also going to be a crapshoot because a lot of guys are really good at Loudon and a lot of people have really kind of fine-tuned their setups to make them last and run well for 100 laps. I think we’ll have as good a shoot as anybody of running well, but you never know who’s going to be fast that day.”
Coby will also run the inaugural Modified Tour Whelen All-Star Shootout Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“I think it’s an awesome race,” Coby said. “I’m not looking at it as a test session because we’re bringing a second car so we’re not running the same car for Saturday’s race.
“I’ve seen guys who have said it will be nice to have Friday to kind of tune-in on the car a little bit more under race conditions. As much as that’s true, Saturday is going to be very different I’m sure. It’s going to help a little bit. But you don’t go to an All-Star race to have a test session. You go to an All-Star race to win the All-Star race and that’s why we’re bringing two cars.”