By Travis Barrett ~ Special To RaceDayCT
THOMPSON — Competitors on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will begin the 2015 season the same way they ended 2014: Chasing Doug Coby.
The two-time and reigning Tour champion Coby of Milford was one of only two drivers to top the 120-mph barrier en route to winning the Coors Light Pole Award for the Icebreaker 150 Saturday afternoon at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
Coby’s lap of 18.679 seconds (120.456 mph) bested Bobby Santos III’s fastest lap by 0.056 seconds to earn him his fifth career pole.
“We just had a good car all day,” said Coby, who paced the one and only practice session Saturday morning. “We made some adjustments from the mock run in practice that we did, and they worked, I guess. Anytime we can come out a tick ahead of [Santos] here, that mean’s we’ve got a pretty fast car. It seems like he’s been a dominant qualifier here.”
Corey LaJoie of Concord, N.C. — making his first appearance in the No. 15 for Rob Fuller Motorsports — qualified third for Sunday’s Icebreaker 150. Ted Christopher and Timmy Solomito rounded out the Top-5.
Coby’s last pole came in 2011, making this his first since joining the MSIII Racing team prior to the 2014 campaign.
Not long after securing the championship here at Thompson last October, the team made the decision to go in a new direction. They sold off cars and equipment that carried them to that title, opting for a fresh approach to 2015.
“We had to,” Coby said. “You can’t just sit back and think that what you have one year is going to be fast enough the next year. We still ultimately don’t know if we have a car that’s going to win races this year. But that’s why we made our changes, just to try it. So far, so good — one day into the Tour season.
“It’s really important for our team mentality to defend our championship in a way — with all this new equipment — that we feel like we’re always trying to be fast every week.”
Topping Santos, of Franklin, Mass., was a good start. Santos, the 2010 Tour champion, has five career Thompson poles to go with four wins at the .625-mile track.
“We had a good qualifying run,” Santos said. “I wasn’t so positive after practice. We definitely made some good adjustments for our qualifying run. I’ve got to thank… all the guys. They gave me the car I needed to qualify good and be ready for (Sunday).”
Coby was the 22nd driver to hit the track during the qualifying session, knocking Solomito off the provisional pole at the time. He held off charges from Santos, defending Icebreaker 150 winner Justin Bonsignore, LaJoie and 2014 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champion Ryan Preece over the final 10 cars to hold on for the pole position.
“With so many cars here, it is important to start out front and try and lead every lap,” Coby said.
Eric Goodale, Woody Pitkat, Patrick Emerling, Preece and Derek Ramstrom rounded out the Top-10 qualifiers.
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour – Icebreaker 150 Lineup
Race Sunday; Qualifying Saturday
at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
Lap Length: 0.625 miles
1. (2) Doug Coby, Milford, Conn., Chevrolet, 120.456
2. (44) Bobby Santos, Franklin, Mass., Chevrolet, 120.096
3. (15) Corey LaJoie, Concord, N.C., Chevrolet, 119.923
4. (13) Ted Christopher, Plainville, Conn., Chevrolet, 119.872
5. (16) Timmy Solomito, Islip, N.Y., Chevrolet, 119.592
6. (58) Eric Goodale, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 119.541
7. (88) Woody Pitkat, Stafford, Conn., Chevrolet, 119.516
8. (6) Ryan Preece, Berlin, Conn., Chevrolet, 119.351
9. (07) Patrick Emerling, Orchard Park, N.Y., Chevrolet, 119.193
10. (35) Derek Ramstrom, West Boylston, Mass., Chevrolet, 119.079
11. (40) Ron Silk, Norwalk, Conn., Chevrolet, 119.029
12. (8) Donny Lia, Jericho, N.Y., Chevrolet, 118.947
13. (22) Tommy Barrett, Jr., Millis, Mass., Chevrolet, 118.784
14. (51) Justin Bonsignore, Holtsville, N.Y., Chevrolet, 118.702
15. (75) Shawn Solomito, Islip, N.Y., Chevrolet, 118.633
16. (31) Steve Masse, Bellingham, Mass., Chevrolet, 118.409
17. (4) Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield, Conn, Dodge, 118.129
18. (93) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa., Chevrolet, 118.123
19. (3) Troy Talman, Oxford, Mass., Chevrolet, 118.030
20. (9) Chase Dowling, Roxbury, Conn., Chevrolet, 117.875
21. (29) Jon McKennedy, Chelmsford, Mass., Chevrolet, 117.746
22. (99) Jamie Tomaino, Howell, N.J., Chevrolet, 117.604
23. (79) James Civali, Meriden, Conn., Pontiac, 117.579
24. (36) Dave Sapienza, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 117.555
25. (14) Max Zachem, Preston, Conn., Chevrolet, 117.530
26. (63) Tom Rogers, Jr., Patchogue, N.Y., Chevrolet, 117.273
27. (46) Jeff Goodale, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 117.267
28. (64) Anthony Nocella, Woburn, Mass., Chevrolet, 116.853
29. (37) Dave Salzarulo, Monson, Mass., Chevrolet, 116.315
30. (18) Ken Heagy, Calverton, N.Y., Chevrolet, 116.027
31. (19) Brandon Oltra, Alden, Pa., Chevrolet, 114.890
32. (33) Johnny Bush, Huntington Station, N.Y., Chevrolet, 114.626
33. (82) Danny Watts, Jr., Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 113.901
34. (26) Gary McDonald, Ronkonkoma, N.Y., Pontiac, 112.731
35. (01) Melissa Fifield, Wakefield, N.H., Chevrolet, 106.605