Back Is The Incredible: Doug Coby Streaks To Whelen Mod Tour Icebreaker Pole At Thompson Speedway

Doug Coby

Doug Coby

THOMPSON – Doug Coby closed out the 2015 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season on a blazing run that rolled to his second consecutive series championship.

Saturday at Thompson Speedway the Milford driver showed the chill of the offseason did nothing to cool the heated the run his Mike Smeriglio Racing team was on to end 2015.

Coby was fastest in qualifying Saturday to win the pole for Sunday’s Whelen Modified Tour season opening Icebreaker 150 at Thompson Speedway.

It marked the fourth consecutive pole for Coby dating back to the final three events of the season 2015 season. Coby also won the final three events of the 2015 season on the way to his third series title.

“We definitely weren’t as good as a pole car in practice but we just kept chipping away,” said Coby, who won all four Whelen Modified Tour events at Thompson Speedway last season. “When you run as well here as we did last year, I knew what I wanted and the guys knew what changes to try to make to get it. We tried a couple things and they really didn’t work. We just kept missing the one little piece that we needed and [crew chief Phil Moran] had an idea after practice and said this race last year, we didn’t run the same setup in all four races last year. We ran something in this race and then we tweaked it a little bit over the summer just a tiny little bit and went back to what we ended up running here last year, kind of in that direction.”

Coby toured the .625-mile oval with a fast lap of 18.641 seconds (120.702 mph). He went out 26th of the 27 cars in qualifying.

Ryan Preece of Berlin, the 2013 series champion who will run part-time on the Whelen Modified Tour this year, was second fastest at 18.666 seconds (120.540 mph). Preece is running full-time this season with the NASCAR XFINITY Series and competed Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

Donny Lia of Jericho, N.Y., the 2007 and 2009 series champion, was third fastest at 18.742 seconds (120.051 mph).

Coby, who also won a series title in 2012, is considered the favorite to win another series title and is staring down some historic numbers in 2016. No driver has won three consecutive series titles in the history of the Whelen Modified Tour, which began in 1985.

Coby made his first Whelen Modified Tour in 2002 and has raced regularly with the series since 2003. He spent a decade considered a journeyman driver in the division before winning his first series title in 2012. Of his 17 career victories, 15 have come since 2012. He began driving for Mike Smeriglio Racing before the start of the 2014 season. He finished second in the series standings to Preece in 2013.

Coby said the historic number that is attainable as far as championships is not any sort of focus for him.

“For some reason everybody thinks this series is suddenly easier to win races on and championships on, and that’s certainly not the truth,” Coby said. “If anything the playing field is a lot more equal with the equipment we have to run and the tires rules and all that stuff. That’s the stuff that people forget about what the 70’s and 80’s were in all of Modifieds in general. … I don’t compare myself to anybody but me. I certainly have drivers that I look up to and to creep up on numbers that they’ve achieved is a personally satisfying thing. But in terms of any pressure for another championship, you guys have to remember, I’m still of the mindset of happy to win a race because I had that for so long. Everything happened so quickly with the other stuff that it’s all bunched together into one blur in a sense. So I still very much feel grateful for the team that I have and the opportunity with this [Mike Smeriglio Racing] car to just try to keep winning races everywhere we go.”

As far as the pressure to keep the win streak going at Thompson, Coby isn’t thinking about that either.

“I think it’s really going to depend on how the cautions play out and when we pit,” Coby said of how he expect the race to play out. “I would love to kind of have a caution come out around lap 55 or 65 and hopefully we lead the race or be in the top-three and lead everybody to pit road. I think we have a car that can go 150 laps and be fine.

“I don’t really think about what happened before. We’re here today and you look at who was fast in practice and certainly [Rowan Pennink] and [Timmy Solomito] and [Ryan Preece] were setting the pace in every practice. Even beyond what their fastest lap of the day was, they were consistently faster than everybody else, including us.”

Preece expect his consistency in practice and qualifying Saturday to pay off Sunday.

“I was pretty well almost perfect,” Preece said of his time trial effort. “Maybe I could have rolled the center just a tick better, but getting in and through the center and forward drive off was really good, just had to wait on the nose just a tick. A lot of guys they have to put stagger in to get their car to roll, but I had race stagger in mine. I feel like we’re going to be just as good tomorrow as we were today.

“All day today, I was in race trim. I was actually extremely surprised we were P3, P2 the whole time, and I never really mocked up. When I did, that was when I tried the whole big stagger thing and it just didn’t work out. It’s not going to work for what we’ve got going. Hopefully, it pays dividends. We qualified second and we’ll have an aggressive race tomorrow and have some fun.”


  1. The tour is starting to get that NASCAR xfinity feel. You use to go and say about 10 cars had a real shot to win. Now you can say maybe 3 or 4. The haves are starting to spread themselves further from the have nots. Also someone needs to tell me how the 2 car is so much faster and better than everyone else at Thompson.

  2. Greg Hardy says

    It would really make my day to see Preece make the #2 eat concrete tomorrow. Now that Preece isn’t running the tour full time anymore, this is his perfect chance to finally claim his long-awaited vengeance since penalties won’t matter to him anymore. In fact, whenever Preece can race on the tour, he should make it a goal to eliminate the 2 every time, hopefully costing him the championship. Only then would they truly be even.

  3. It’s a sad day when there is no Christopher in the opening Tour race. I love him in the SK’s, but it isn’t the same. No Rocco either. It’s a sad. But you know what. There is a reason they are not racing. NASCAR knows why. I know not why ,but… It’s just one more reason to say NO to NASCAR. I will probably just walk away from this race and wait a couple weeks for Stafford…

  4. So much better you ask? The times are extremely close. I haven’t been to a tour race in over a year after moving south but don’t remember Doug being this dominant. He was always a threat to win but never a pole winner in 2013-2014. Great racer when green flag dropped but never dominant. Is the competition that much less in a year?

  5. Kayman don’t get discouraged, SMS should be much better . Nascar has exactly what it wanted a crappy product . i feel for the younger fans because I started going to Thompson in the 70’s and back then modifieds were lined up from the pit area back road all the way to the back pit gate you had to have well over 100 mods of all shapes and sizes it was crazy . Change sucks .

  6. Preece just can’t go and wreck Cobu. If nascar feels it as intentional they could suspend him and if they suspend him that could include the xfinity series Aldo since that is nascar. Not to mention if he is trying to get a cup ride in sure owners will not be impressed over that

  7. Just came back from the ice breaker..

    Preece drove the hecks out of that car today.. The man can drive a modified, not doubt about..

  8. darealgoodfella says

    Franky said, “Also someone needs to tell me how the 2 car is so much faster and better than everyone else at Thompson.”

    Yeah, these cars are cookie cutter chassis and SPEC motors. Should look like IROC racing. We might find out soon what makes the 2 go so much faster than the rest of the other SPEC motors.

  9. Grey Matter says

    Motor this motor that… it’s not the motor. People forget that fast race cars are created in the garage not at the track. Phil Moran is a wizard with a wrench.

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