“We’re going to need some help in terms of the finishes that Ryan [Preece] and Woody [Pitkat] get,” Coby said after winning the pole for the Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 at NHMS.
Coby’s wish for a victory and bad finishes for Preece and Pitkat came true, though it happened in dramatically controversial fashion centered squarely on Coby’s final lap intentions.
A tap from Coby on the final lap sent Preece spinning out of the lead and allowed Coby to take the checkered flag as the winner of the F.W. Webb 100 Saturday at NHMS.
It was the fifth win of the season for Coby, the reigning series champion, from Milford. The race was extended to 102 laps because of a late caution.
Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, N.Y. was second and Bobby Santos III of Franklin, Mass. third.
As Coby drove away from the last lap incident, Pitkat, running fifth at the time, drove into the spinning Preece. Pitkat ended up 10th in the running order and Preece 19th.
“I pushed him into turn one and he basically stopped,” Coby said of Preece. “I wanted to pass him in turn three not in turn one and two. I was going to push him off the corner and he didn’t go through turn one and two the same way he did all the other laps and it might have caught me a little off guard because I was in throttle and when we made contact his car went right around. At that point my job is to save my own car. I certainly did not mean to wreck him there.”
Preece said Coby purposefully wrecked him.
“I got wrecked, one hundred percent,” Preece said. “No if ands or buts. I really like Doug, he’s a really good guy, me and him on the personal level. But on the racing level now, respect-wise, I have zero. He’s used me up before, no big deal, I don’t get wrecked. But for what he did right there going into turn one, there’s no explanation for that.”
Coby came into the event third in the standings, with Preece leading the points chase and Pitkat in second place, one point behind Preece.
After the dust settled Pitkat ended up in the points lead with two events remaining this season. Preece fell to second, eight points behind Pitkat. Coby is third, 11 points off the lead.
“Obviously I expect their team to say I wrecked him because of the points deal and I probably expect Woody’s team to say the same thing,” Coby said. “But that’s not what happened.”
Said Pitkat: “From my point of view I don’t think [Coby] should be in victory lane. Obviously [the officials] must have saw something different.”
Preece quickly drove to the front from his 17th starting spot. Coby and Preece ran in first and second together for the entire second half of the event.
A James Civali spin after contact with Justin Bonsignore on lap 97 set up the decisive green-white-checkered finish with Coby leading Preece and Santos in third.
On the lap 101 restart, Preece got a push from Santos in third to clear Coby off turn two and take over the lead. Preece and Coby ran nose to tail in first and second into turn one after taking the white flag before the fireworks in turns one and two.
“Everyone of us, we race and things are going to happen,” Coby said. “That’s the nature of the beast. Whether you choose to believe stuff happens on purpose or stuff happens because we are racecar drivers driving racecars at 150 mph, that’s the only thing I can say. I don’t think I made a mistake. I think I sent him into the corner like I should, rolled through the gas like I should and was content to roll up off the corner off of turn two and get a big run down the backstretch and that never happened because he screwed us up in the middle of the corner.
“I know what my intentions were. I know when I do things on purpose and I don’t and I’m probably the only one in our series that will step up and say when I do something on purpose that I did it on purpose. I didn’t do this on purpose. I think he checked me up in the middle of the corner to try to slow me up.”
Said Preece: “I got wrecked leading this race. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t check up more than any other time I have. The guy leading gets tight, the guy leading has a way better run, control your car. He’s good enough to do it. I don’t know what happened. … There’s nothing he can say that’ as far as what happened that’s going to change anything.”
The series visits Stafford Motor Speedway for the NAPA Fall Final 150 on Oct. 4 before closing out the season at the Sunoco World Series 150 on Oct. 18 at Thompson Speedway.
Preece, the 2013 series champion, is looking for his second series title in three years. Coby, who also won a championship in 2012, is looking for his third title in four years. Pitkat is trying to win his first series title.
“Points will take care of themselves,” Preece said. “We have two more races, anything can happen.”
“I think going to these other races, if it’s going to turn into a slugfest I’m ready to slug it out if I have to,” Coby said. “That’s not what I want to do. I’d love to just go racing, on to the next race and that’s that. But the reality is, if that’s what people want to turn this into, I’m ready to go. I don’t like that that’s what happened in the race. I would have been perfectly content winning and him finishing second. That would not have been an issue for me. We’ll just see what happens at Stafford.”
Emerling had a career best second place finish. Before Saturday his best series finish was a fourth place, which he did in the July series event in Loudon.
“It was going pretty well for us I thought,” Emerling said. “We didn’t quite qualify how we wanted to. We ended up 12th there. But during the race we had a pretty good car and managed to stay in the top-10 for most of the race. … We got the car a little bit better for us [at the halfway break]. Towards the end I was feeling very comfortable with my racecar and we ended up with a second place out of it.”