Coby and the team have won the last three series titles, and Coby himself has won four of the last five series championships.
But two races into the 16-event season, the challenge of winning a fourth consecutive title for Coby and his team has been made immensely more challenging.
A wreck in the season opening event on March 18 at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway relegated Coby to a 13th place finish to start the year.
Sunday at Thompson Speedway, Coby’s day was literally over before he could complete at lap in the Icebreaker 150 at Thompson Speedway.
Slowing under caution on the first lap of the event, Coby was hit by Brendan Bock and slammed the backstretch wall, ending his day.
The 31st place finish left Coby 16th in the series standing at the end of the day, 46 points behind standings leader Timmy Solomito.
“It’s racing,” Coby said. “You’ve got to take the good with the bad and I’ve had a lot more good than bad lately so what am I going to do?
“It’s a different way to start the season than we’ve been used to the last three years, probably for me the last five years. … It’s a reminder to us that we can’t take anything for granted and nothing is given to us.”
“It’s not the end of the world. And I don’t like that people try to make it the end of the world because our team is very capable of going out and winning a lot more races this year. The reality is, the whole points championship thing, that only happens when you just go race to race and try to win every race and we have better experience and knowledge at that than anybody. We’ll just take our lumps and move on to the next race. That’s all we can do.”
At the initial drop of the green flag for Sunday’s Icebreaker 150, Chase Dowling, who was starting on the inside of the front row, slowed, causing a chain reaction through the field. The caution flag flew when Max Zachem, who started 13th, spun.
After cars were slowing on the backstretch, Coby – who started third – ended up plastered against the backstretch wall after getting hit by Bock, who started 10th.
“All I know is that I have the best spotter [Brian Sullivan] on the Tour and my spotter told me the caution was out and to get my hand up and so that’s what I did,” Coby said. “I listen to him and trust that if there’s a wreck everybody is going to slow down. I think [Chase Dowling] slowed down, he was next to me on the bottom. So we kind of slowed down at the same time. I had also heard from somebody that the flagman threw the caution but that the tower didn’t call it. So I don’t know what that exact sequence of events is. I talked to Justin Bonsignore this morning and he also was told that the caution was out. He had seen the melee that had kind of had happened so he knew that the caution was out and he was a couple rows behind me, which was apparently where the car that tagged me came from. I don’t have a whole lot to say.
“I don’t know why or how he hit me. I was told by somebody that his spotter didn’t tell him the caution was out. If the flagman threw the caution and the tower didn’t call it, maybe his spotter only listens to the tower calling cautions. I don’t know. All I know is somebody made a mistake and it wasn’t me. That’s just it. That’s not a big deal. I don’t want to sound like a crybaby through the whole thing. It’s just racing. You say one bad thing about one person and everybody thinks you’re a crybaby.
“On lap one of a race, I’m not going like it’s lap 140 and I don’t think anybody should be. Especially when the car that starts on [the inside of the front row] had a bad start and checked everybody up. You just want to survive through that, so why are you going so hard anyway? Any one of us in that situation, with how bad the start of that race was, should have been able to avoid anything other than a spinning car. If somebody else slowed up, you should respect that just with how the whole race started. I get a little bit aggravated with that stuff because I feel like I’m very heads up with those situations. When somebody has a bad start three or four rows up ahead of me, I’m not clobbering the guy in front of me to try to push him through things. It’s just a different way of racing and a different level of experience.”
After the wreck Coby got a fan’s perspective of an entire event from the infield and came away with some with interesting evaluations. Rowan Pennink ended up winning the event.
“It certainly made me think ‘Man, certain moves work and certain moves don’t work.’” Coby said. “We’ve got two races into the season on the Tour and the last 20 laps of both races have been complete chaos with people trying to steal spots from each other. I think it’s a good indication that anybody is capable of having a bad finish with the way we’re racing each other at the end of the races. All these guys that think they’re golden because we’ve had two bad races, they could have several in a row with the way things are panning out. I’m not hoping for that, whatever happens happens. We’re just going to go out there and try to win races. The winning of the races is the key thing because of all the bonus points you get. So if we’re going to claw our way back into this we’re going to have to assert ourselves as a winning car at a lot of different places. It’s doable.”