Quietly, Doug Coby Ready To Begin Defense Of Whelen Modified Tour Title At Thompson Speedway

Two-thousand twelve? Forget about it.

Don’t get the wrong impression, Doug Coby is quite proud of what he and his team accomplished last year in winning the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title.

Doug Coby celebrates his Whelen Modified Tour title last year at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/NASCAR)

And yes, he’d like everybody to keep alive the memories of just what a magical season it was for he and his Wayne Darling owned team.

But he’d also like it if everybody kind of a forgot about it just a little bit too.

Coby is a driver who has always reveled in the role of underdog. No matter the circumstances, he wants to be the guy others kind of forget is there. Take him for granted, he doesn’t care, all the more surprised he’ll leave them when he goes by.

Though, it’s hard to do that when you’re wearing the Superman’s cape that comes with being the reigning series champion.

“[The underestimated attitude], I think that attitude is kind of ingrained in me so I don’t see me approaching this season any differently,” said Coby, who begins defense of his 2012 Whelen Modified Tour championship in Sunday’s Icebreaker 150 at Thompson International Speedway. “My racing to me doesn’t go from season to season, it’s just racing. So I’m going into the Icebreaker the same way I left Thompson last year, which is I hope I have a good finish. I’m not really one of those people that changes how I approach things based on what I accomplished of whatever I did in the past. It’s just another race to go to and I don’t want to finish 20th.”

Coming into the 2012 season with two career victories in 116 series starts – and competing for a team readying for its first season running full-time – Coby wasn’t really on anybody’s radar as a championship contender.

Then the Milford driver went and pulled off the ultimate underdog story, winning five races on the way to his first series title. He took the series points lead after the fourth race of the season and never trailed in the standings again.

He finished the season with eight top-five finishes and 11 top-10’s over 14 races and at one point during the year rattled off seven consecutive top-three finishes.

Despite putting up those gaudy numbers in 2012 and celebrating a title, Coby doesn’t see himself going into the 2013 season wearing a target any bigger than those worn by his competition.

Doug Coby (52) Races Ryan Preece during an event last season (Photo: David Silverman/NASCAR)

“I don’t even really think there is a target on me,” Coby said. “There’s 6-8 good teams on the Tour and we all have I think the same target every week. It really just matters who’s fast and who’s not that week. I don’t think the target on me is any bigger than [Ryan] Preece’s or [Donny] Lia’s or [Ron] Silk’s. I think each of sees each other as a threat and it doesn’t matter if I’m fast that week or Rowan [Pennink] is fast that week, it’s just that’s the car you’re going to have to deal with.”

Coby finished the 2012 season 11 points ahead of series runner-up Preece in the standings, with Silk, the 2011 series champion finishing third, 23 points behind Coby.

One thing Coby won’t do is put too much emphasis on the setting of any lofty must-accomplish goals in the first event of the season as it pertains to the season-long big picture of chasing another title. Last year at the season opener at Thompson there was little indication of what might be for Coby and his Darling owned team.

“The emphasis from our team comes from knowing they worked so hard over the winter to try something new and if the something new works I think it would be really good for our team to gain some momentum,” Coby said. “Maybe the media and the fans put too much emphasis on having to set the tone in the first race, certainly we didn’t set the tone in the first race [last year]. I spun out four times and we were awful in practice and I struggled all weekend and none of us were happy with our performance last year. But it certainly didn’t effect us [in the second race of the year] at Stafford [Motor Speedway]. We just went to Stafford and did our thing [and won]. I want to come out strong and I’d love to be the champion that comes out and wins the Icebreaker, but I would just like to finish good in the Icebreaker because I don’t think I ever have finished good in the Icebreaker.”

In eight career starts in the season opening Whelen Modified Tour event at Thompson Coby’s best finish is a seventh, in 2011. His average Icebreaker finish is 15.5.

“I think whoever wins the Icebreaker, I think their team instantly relaxes,” Coby said. “I think all the other teams, if they run terrible at the Icebreaker, they think ‘Oh my god are we going to run terrible every week?’ I don’t think we thought that last year, but I think other teams could think that. It’s like a mind game, mindset thing with the team.”

Handicapping the field for 2013, Coby sees a long list of candidates to be battling for a championship during the stretch run for the title in September and October.

“It’s the same guys,” Coby said. “It’s us, it’s Silk, it’s Preece, it’s Rowan, Todd [Szegedy], Lia, [Bobby] Santos, Ted [Christopher], [Justin] Bonsigore and maybe one or two other guys that have a breakout season and join that group. And that was in no order in particular. And I forget, [Mike] Stefanik on that list too.

“I think it’s a wild card for everybody. Every one of us could go out there and win five races or every one of us could go out there and finish fifth or worse in all 14 races. I think that’s what we’re all concerned about, of that pecking order, where are we going to fall in? Last year me and Preece and Silk fell in at the top, but I think that can change depending on who gets their act together and who has all the luck in the world to not get wrecked at certain places.”

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