Many around the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour like to refer to events for the division at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as the series’ Daytona 500. How about the SAT test?
There’s studying for a quiz and then there’s getting ready for the biggest test you’re going to take.
And series points leader Doug Coby professes to be a stout student of the intricacies of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
And the results of late seemingly prove that his study habits are working quite well.
It’s hard not to position Coby as an odds-on favorite to win when the series takes the green flag Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the F.W. Webb 100.
Coby’s stats at New Hampshire Motor Speedway over the last six years have been astounding.
In addition to a pair of victories in the last four events at the track, he has top-three finishes in four of the last five races in Loudon, top four finishes in six of the last nine events and top-10’s in nine of the last 12 events.
While equipment and talent clearly go far in putting anybody in the right spot for success on any track, Coby, of Milford, points to study habits as another big variable that has led to much of his recent success in Loudon.
“I study Loudon more than any racetrack,” Coby said. “I don’t go on iRacing or anything, but I watch every race with a critical eye. I watch every race that’s televised to see when other people do good things or bad things, what happens to them. Or what moves people make that work that I might not have tried before or that I would try now. I’ve learned a lot just by watching the last couple of races. I know that there’s probably 55 different ways you can win a race at Loudon and I happen to have won two of them in two different ways and I’m always looking for a new way to sneak in and win a race.”
In 22 career starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Coby has an average finish of 13.8. In his first 10 starts at the track his average finish was 22.5. Over the last 12 events he has an average finish of 6.5.
“For me it’s a matter of maturing and knowing what works and what doesn’t work,” Coby said. “I try to be the type of driver who knows if something didn’t work the first time don’t do it again. And Loudon is a place where I probably had to learn that four of five times over because I would try the same thing four times and it just didn’t work. Now I’ve finally stopped trying some of those things that didn’t work and that has helped put me in a position late in the race to be contending somewhere in the top five or six cars.
“Most of the tracks that we go to you try to pass everybody as quickly as you can and that’s that. I think at Loudon sometimes you need to think about the move you’re going to make and maybe wait a half a lap or a lap before you actually commit to that move. To me, the most successful drivers at Loudon are aggressive but patient. The ones that are just all out aggressive are not going to be the ones that win the race because they’re going to put themselves in a bad position with two laps to go.”
Coby, in his first season with Mike Smeriglio Racing, has one victory, eight top-five’s and 10 top-10’s in 10 events this season. He also won the non-points event for the division in February at Daytona International Speedway.
With three events remaining this season, Coby – the 2012 Whelen Modified Tour champion and series runner-up in 2013 – goes into New Hampshire Motor Speedway holding a four-point lead over second place Justin Bonsignore in the standings. After Loudon the series visits Stafford Motor Speedway on Sept. 28 and Thompson Speedway on Oct. 19.
“There’s three races to go and we’re still the point leader so that’s a good thing,” Coby said. “We’re going to three tracks that we’re good at so that’s a good thing too. It just so happens that the person we’re likely competing against – the team we’re likely competing against – is also good at those three tracks. It could come down to the wire. It could come down to every position. Or all this discussion could be for nothing. One of us could have a bad run and somebody could run away with the thing.”