Whelen Modified Tour Points Race Tightens Once Again After Bud 150 At Thompson

THOMPSON – Doug Coby has a pretty good idea what was going through the mind of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points leader Ryan Preece following Thursday’s Budweiser 150 at Thompson International Speedway.

Doug Coby celebrates his Whelen Modified Tour CarQuest 150 victory Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Jim Rogash/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Doug Coby celebrates his Whelen Modified Tour CarQuest 150 victory on Aug. 2 at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Jim Rogash/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Last year Coby saw a string of seven consecutive top-three finishes come to an end with an 11th place run at Bristol Motor Speedway. A 13th place in the following event after Bristol, followed by a 22nd place to follow that meant Coby watched a 41-point lead in the standings cut to nine with just a few races left in the season.

Following the Town Fair Tire Whitcomb 200 at Monadnock Speedway on July 27, Preece held a 41-point lead in the standing over the second place Rowan Pennink, and a 44-point lead over third place Coby.

Two rough finishes later and that lead has been diced down to a mere 16 points over Coby, the defending series champion.

“That’s what happened to me last year,” Coby said. “Three races I went from 41 [points ahead] to nine and then I hung on. We regrouped and had some good runs.

“It’s still too early. We’ve got to get past Bristol. Bristol is always the benchmark. Then we get to September, there’s three or four races left and you find out who’s for real in this deal. Either one of us could have two [bad] races and fall back to third or fourth in points. I’m just doing what we do.”

The series heads to Bristol for a race Wednesday. After Bristol, four events will remain on the schedule, Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway (Sept. 14), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Sept. 21), Stafford Motor Speedway (Sept. 29) and Thompson (Oct 20).

Preece is hardly in panic mode, and has no reason to be. The reality is, in the last two events Preece has had very competitive cars and has been bit by bad luck.

On Aug. 2 at Stafford Preece was running in the top-five when he suffered a flat tire coming on the final lap and had to settle for a 16th place finish in an event Coby dominated and won.

Thursday at Thompson Preece started on the outside pole and seemed like he had dodged the worst luck of anybody.

A rough pit stop dropped him from racing with the leaders to fighting from near the back end of the top-20. After closing back on the front, a flat tire sent Preece back to the rear for another run towards the leaders. Once again Preece found his way back near the front of the field before he got caught up in a wreck on the final lap, settling for a 12th place finish.

“It was frustrating for sure,” Preece said. “I don’t know what happened on the pit stop. I think the tire got stuck. Stuff like that happens. We got in position, we were making forward gains, and then those guys wrecked in front of us. Then on the restart the right rear went down. We got back out there and got back up and then they wreck in front of us and I feel like I got wrecked there on that last lap.

“It’s extremely frustrating, but you can’t dwell on it. We’ll just move on and try to get back in the rhythm. We’ve been running up front. Stafford was a freak deal. The right rear went down coming to the white flag and I was running third. Here we were running the top-five all night. A right rear goes down, we get back in contention and there’s a wreck. Something was clearly wrong with [Ron Silk’s] car, I went to go underneath him and I got hit in the left rear. I don’t know.”

Preece finished in the top-five in the first seven events this season, including three victories.

“It’s a good points night,” Coby said of cutting nine points off of Preece’s advantage at Thompson. “I look at the points all the time. I look at the points 42 million times a week, but it doesn’t mean I change how I race. I just look because I like to know. You can’t win it if you don’t know how far back you are.”

The rally has Coby wondering what might have been had he not crashed in qualifying for an event on June 29 at Riverhead Raceway. Preece won that event, though Coby could not start the feature and was credited in that race with a 28th place finish

“It would have been nice to see if we would have run Riverhead what things would look like right now,” Coby said. “If I had finished seventh [at Waterford] I would have gained 21 more points. A seventh would have been respectable finish there. Even if I had finished 13th we would have almost been tied.”

“The last five races we’ve run our worst finish is fourth. That’s all you can do.”

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