Dreams Realized For NASCAR Champs; Doug Coby Celebrated For Fifth Whelen Mod Title

(Press Release from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)

Doug Coby Friday at the NASCAR Hall Of Fame (Photo: Jim DuPont)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – For a 17-year-old, Todd Gilliland was in a familiar situation when he took the stage at the Charlotte Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame Friday night.

He had, after all, done this all before. Just one year ago.

“Ever since I was little, all I wanted to do was drive a race car,” said Gilliland. “When I got that chance to do that for Bill McAnally Racing, I really wanted to win him a championship. And now I’m here giving my speech for my second year in a row; 2017 has been a dream season.”

Gilliland wasn’t the only familiar face honored at the NASCAR Home Tracks Awards, officially receiving their NASCAR championship rings and trophies. Doug Coby received the hardware for his fifth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship, Lee Pulliam picked up his fourth NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship trophy, and Mexico’s Abraham Calderón took home his second NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series title trophy.

They were joined by first-time champions Harrison Burton (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East), Alon Day (NASCAR Whelen Euro Series) and Alex Labbe (NASCAR Pinty’s Series).

Whether they came from Israel and Quebec or North Carolina and Virginia, there was a common theme that was echoed throughout the night of celebration.

Dreams realized. And the support behind chasing the drivers chasing them.

“This season has created so many memories that will stay with me my whole life,” said Burton. “So much has gone into winning this championship, and it’s awesome to just slow down and celebrate it with my team, friends and family.”

“What a journey,” said Day. “To end up here tonight as a NASCAR champion. Who would have thought an unknown driver from a small country in the Middle East would one day wind up being a NASCAR champion. That achievement never would have been reached without the help of so many people.”

It was a night that celebrated the future of NASCAR and toasted the historic achievements of NASCAR veterans.

A year after becoming the youngest champion in NASCAR touring or national series history, Gilliland became the first driver to win back-to-back NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championships since Mike Duncan in 2004-05. He nearly became the first driver to sweep the K&N Pro Series East and West titles, but Burton overcame an eight-point gap by winning the East season finale. In the process, he broke Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Joey Logano’s record as the youngest champion in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East history.

Both Gilliland and Burton also ran several NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races in 2017 as they look to move up the racing ladder.

Canadian Labbe is also eying a move up, but first he had unfinished business in Canada. After a disappointing end to 2016, the 24-year-old bounced back with a decisive 2017 campaign that saw him finish sixth or better in all but the finale en route to the Pinty’s Series title – the national stock car racing championship in Canada.

“It means a lot — I’ve been working on it for a long, long time,” said Labbe. “To finally get that championship, to get the trophy at the end of the year: It’s a dream. It’s something that I’m going to have with me all my life.”

Likewise, Calderón took home his country’s stock car national championship. While he won his first title in 2014 without winning a race, he had a series-high five victories this year, including four in a six-race summer stretch to take command of the series lead.

“For me and my team, it’s something huge — it means a lot — to be here celebrating our second NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series championship. It’s something we’ll never forget,” said Calderón. “I remember the last race in Mexico City, it was a stunning event. I’d like to explain with words what it felt like crossing the finish line but I cannot. It’s something that just flows through your body and makes you feel alive. It was just really, really amazing.”

Day finished second in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2015 and third in 2016 before a magical run in 2017. He made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup debut at Sonoma, and then won three of the final four races of the Whelen Euro season to edge two-time champion Anthony Kumpen.

For Coby, though, the year started like a nightmare. He was involved in wrecks in his first two races, and four races into the season he was still 51 points out of the championship lead. The Milford, Connecticut, driver didn’t mind that everybody was looking to knock him off the perch.

“I’d rather be the guy with the bull’s eye on his back than the one swinging at it,” said Coby, who scored top fives in 10 of the last 12 races to earn his fourth straight title and fifth in the last six years.

Coby joined NASCAR Hall of Famers Jerry Cook and Richie Evans, NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Mike Stefanik along with Tony Hirschman Jr., as the only drivers in NASCAR Modified history with five or more titles.

“I’m just racing against who I’m racing against and doing thing best I can do in this era,” Coby said.

“It’s a testament to what you’ve done in the sport,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, told Coby. “When you look back at the series and who can represent the sport the best, (the Modifieds are) where legends are made. You’ve heard Doug talk about just concentrating on the present. But it’s fitting we’re here in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. With five championships, you’re well on your way to an historic career.”

Likewise, Pulliam moved closer to one of short track’s indelible records.

Piling up 155 Late Model wins in 290 starts since 2011, the North Carolina native tied Philip Morris for second most national titles. He’s one behind NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee, the late Larry Phillips. Phillips won five titles between 1989-96.

“Before you become legendary, you’ve got to be successful,” Helton told Pulliam. “I think you’ve laid the foundation on becoming one of the legends in NASCAR.”

Pulliam won 14 times at Myrtle Beach Speedway on his way to the track and South Carolina titles. He finished with 19 wins, 36 top fives and 43 top 10s in 45 starts at eight different tracks across the southeast.

“You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but it gets me every time,” said Pulliam. “I told my wife in 2017, I was going as hard as I can to win national championship number four. As Michelangelo once said, the greatest danger for most of us is not from setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and hitting our mark.

“Chasing a national championship requires help and sacrifice from so many people. Many nights we saw the sun come up, with no sleep. My guys never gave up. We fought, clawed and battled as a team to accomplish this. This championship was won by people banding together and not stopping until the goal was accomplished.”

Pulliam noted that at 29 years old, he feels he has plenty of racing left.

“And I think I’ve got more titles in me,” said Pulliam.

The championship car owners and crew chiefs were also recognized Friday night.

There were plenty of other trophies handed out, too.

Missouri’s Cody Jolly (Division II), Ontario’s Eric Yorke (Division III), Michigan’s Cole Roelofs (Division IV) and Iowa’s Dustin Thompson (Division V) joined Pulliam in receiving their NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national titles. The night got underway with the awarding of 34 U.S. state and Canadian province championships, along with 59 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I track champion trophies.

In addition to the championship awards, each series rookie of the year was honored. Calvin Carroll (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour), Derek Kraus (NASCAR K&N Pro Series West) and Chase Purdy (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East) were the Sunoco Rookies of the Year in their respective series; Adam Martin (NASCAR Pinty’s Series) and Mitch Keeter (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series) received their Josten’s Rookie of the Year for their series; and Stienes Longin was awarded the Junior “Jerome Sarran” Trophy by the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series as the series’ top young driver. Enrique Baca was the top rookie in the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series.

Ryan Vargas, another rising star who is moving from Late Models in California to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East next year as part of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity and Rev Racing, won the Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award for the second straight year. The award is given to the top performing minority or female driver in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.


  1. darealgoodfella says

    Congratulations to all!!!

    What about the Most Popular Driver Award?

  2. Paul Wilson says

    Congrats Doug! If Wayne Darling had a stacker trailer, this article would read, “Coby celebrates 6th straight championship”. Perhaps Nascar should add an asterisk to the championship list?

    2013* WMT Champion Ryan Preece
    (* = Doug Coby hung throttle in qualifying at Riverhead)

  3. paul wilson with your thinking there should be an asterisk after coby ‘s this year !!!! if ryan had not got married or went big time racing coby would have been racing for second in points with the 16 car ….

  4. darealgoodfella says

    Jeffrey, if Preece didn’t miss those two races and collected points as he was, he could have taken a race off and still won the championship.

    I hope Colby* gave the Preeces a wonderful wedding present.

  5. geoffrey doppelgänger says

    I’m going to start a Go Fund Me page to buy myself a stacker trailer.

  6. darealgoodfella says

    The stacker trailer would have prevented the stuck throttle?

  7. right on dareal …..in 1997 the X-6 and stefanik won the championship missing a race …..by 317 points back then a win was 180 points ….but they also won 10 races not one ….different time but cobys talent and numbers will never live up to mike or richie the kings of the modified tour also because of the talented drivers and car owners of there time nothing like that today ….

  8. First class speech. Was very impressed.

  9. Kings of modified racing Jeffrey? You forgot someone. Jerry Cook. Rome NY along with the great Richie Evans. No there will be no full time, knock down, drag out, endless competition in modifieds like when Cook and Evans went at it. Stefanik the best of his era but not the best compared to Cook and Evans. And to prove how much you don’t pay attention to detail the 5 time champ Coby is being relegated to a lucky winner by Preece’s non participation and you barely noticed it.

  10. darealgoodfella says

    2017* WMT Champion Doug Coby
    (* = Ryan Preece took two weeks off from the NWMT. One to get married, the other to drive in an xfinity series race.)

  11. darealgoodfella says

    The 2 dodged a bullet, the 6 won the Owner’s Championship. Preece would have the Driver Championship if he didn’t have to outstanding opportunity to drive in the xfinity series for Joe Gibbs Racing. *

  12. geoffrey doppelgänger says

    Jerry Cook was a cook, Mike and Richie were chefs…

  13. doug you need to learn to READ better or get glasses ….i was the FIRST post to respond on the asterisk post yesterday at 10am ……i also wrote in my next post mike OR RICHIE were the kings of the modified tour …stop the fake news reports doug …..LOL

  14. Jeffery, don’t forget about Geoff Bodine in 1978 setting a record that will probably never be broken. This record landed him in the Guinness book of records. He started 84 races winning 55 of them against the likes of Richie, Jerry and others in that era that were at the top of their game. He was one of the best as well during his time.

  15. darealgoodfella says

    Jeffrey P, reading better or glasses won’t help. He can read, the understanding part is in doubt.

    He needs one of these: 🧠

  16. sour grapes of wrath says

    stefanik won championships in two divisions the same year. a fabricator, builder, driver, wrench the total package right up there with bodine ,evans and flemke …. coby drives, well funded team with a paid crew chief.. times have changed…agree preece went for the gold and gave up championship(s) .. he`s racing for joe gibbs…. true racers are almost extinct …. fact of life ..the late ted christopher and keith rocco get honorable mention …

  17. Agree with everything you said Sour but, Rocco has a long ways to go before he gets in the company you mention, even an honorable mention. Only my opinion.

  18. Sour grapes you sold Stefanik a little short, he won championships in two divisions in back to back years (97 and 98)

  19. Your tedious fake news catch phrase aside JeffryP, I think I read what you wrote pretty well. ” mike OR RICHIE were the kings”. Kings, plural. If you want to blame sloppy, ambiguous writing on the reader I’m good with that.
    Evans and Cook, in the Nascar Hall of Fame. Their epic battles racing as many times as they could every week to accumulate points and win the championship were epic. And they did it for the better part of two decades. There is nothing to compare to their races run and win totals. Stefanik the greatest after the format change, the complete package as was said and rumored to be in consideration for induction but not there yet. Bodine, modified racings greatest innovator constantly thinking outside the box was destined for higher places.
    There is no asterisk. Shoulda-woulda-coulda is for losers. Preece would be the first to tell you that. There’s what happened and the rest will be forgotten. Coby is in his prime, where he stands in the pantheon of great modified drivers is yet to be determined.
    We don’t crown kings in this country. There’s the greatest modified driver, Evans and a battle royal for who is second through whatever.
    Nascars 2003 list of the greatest modified drivers. Evans, Stefanik, Cook,Hendrick, Bodine, Hirschman,Stevens, Desarro, Spencer and Ruggiero. Clearly Coby and Christopher should be on that list now.

  20. sour grapes of wrath says

    zeke understood.. I did sell him (steffie) short …he should be in the hall…. humphry …cant understand why you wont give rocco honorable mention. national champion. multiple track championships and he is still young. he works hard .. has not won on the tour ..that is why the honorable mention. It appears he is happy to run his stable of cars /rent/own and works at petit ..racing is his life and he has the support to do it.. spending thousands on the tour doesn’t make sense today..that’s may opinion .I believe rocco with a season or two full time on the tour with the right financial backing would be a front runner. I am guessing he chooses not to do so. does not take away the accomplishments and hard work he puts into his program..

  21. darealgoodfella says

    Rocco hasn’t been able to stay on the NWMT. Not even close to honorable mention.

  22. well doug i guess your one of those people that can never admit your wrong when the facts are in your face in writing ….this post was really about the modified tour not the whole history of racing …..richie was the best yes…set the bar high …but mike beat almost all of his records ON THE TOUR plus running busch north and winning 2 champs there ….he designed the X-6 that won 32 races in in 3 1/2 years and broke almost all the records on the tour… he built a front clip for the busch car he was the last old school driver like richie to do those things ….you my be a cook fan but he raced to finish and get points richie and mike raced to win and let the points follow ….also not rumored to be in the HOF another of you brain farts already nominated if you could read and understand at the same time what you were reading ……

  23. I agree Rocco has accomplished a lot in his racing career but I believe it has only been at three tracks Stafford, Thompson and Waterford. That is where he has amassed his statistics and I would not question his work ethic on his cars or for Mike Pettit. Everyone else mentioned Evans, Cook, Bodine, Stefanik, Stevens, Desarro, Christopher etc., etc. accomplished what they did in States up and down the East Coast along with New York State, Pennsylvania etc. God only knows how many tracks with different configurations and sizes. That is why they are regarded as some of the best modified shoes there has ever been. And also don’t forget Evans, Bodine and Stefanik designed their own chassis and dominated with them. Only my opinion.

  24. You guys all for get how many points the 2 got at the ice breaker after being wrecked needing a front and rear clip on the first lap?? What a bunch of CRY BABIES!!!!!!! Ok give Preece. 25 point lead going into the final race at Thompson how would that have worked out for you could have would have bunch of cry babies?

  25. darealgoodfella says

    Doug wrote, “Nascars 2003 list of the greatest modified drivers. Evans, Stefanik, Cook,Hendrick, Bodine, Hirschman,Stevens, Desarro, Spencer and Ruggiero. Clearly Coby and Christopher should be on that list now.”

    No way. Colby and TC are not HOF worthy.

    Rocco is on off-off-off-off-off-off-off-off-Broadway driver. He’s good at what he does, just seems to be capped at lower levels. Need to be a bit higher profile. Rocco can’t land and hold a Tour ride.

    The 6 car won the championship, and if Preece didn’t take two weeks off, he’d be on the

  26. Oh right finishing 27th at Thompson would of could of lol and don’t come up with some STUPID 50 point lead going in to the last race I have u 25 and he would be a loser and just maybe the 2 could of would of got more points keep CRYING about TC and Colby

  27. darealgoodfella says

    Racer, a simple fact is that the 6 won the Owner’s Championship, and if Ryan drove all those races instead of getting married and driving for Joe Gibbs in the xfinity series, he would have all those points and the championship. That Colby crashed has nothing to do with it, Preece would have won the Championship by a HUGE margin.

  28. Dareal Jeffrey
    First off. King is TC all day every day!!!! Coby to me is best whelen tour
    Team driver all that. Coby is exactly what yound racers should strive for…
    Guys is outstanding for sure.. Also he is a humble dude too.
    Jerry cook rome ny????? Im sure he was good….But please the tour has two names. Stefanick and. ….yes coby
    Keep doing your thing doug..You are my england patriot tom brady. 2. Team is new england patriots.

  29. I seen doug car so good he won.race.by 17 laps !!!! That starr race this year. Omg.

  30. Man I’m really starting to appreciate humphry’s entries more and more. He’s the only guy that says new smart things and doesn’t have to play tug of war with a giant chip on his shoulder.
    The only things I said Jeffry P that are not debatable is Evans is the most accomplished driver in modified racing history and your writing is sloppy and ambiguous. Lazy as well since you can’t even exert yourself enough to push the shift key and capitalize properly.
    Not a Cook fan as my reference to him ranked third by NASCAR proves, rumblings of Stefanik to the Hall of Fame are not mine, I completely admit I do not have the knowledge to rank the top ten property other then Evans and I provided historical reference to rankings by those more knowledgeable. The 2003 ranking is the only authority based ranking I could find. Debate the second position on all you like. Insult, taunt and play tug or war……..knock yourselves out.
    Coby, Christopher should be in the top 10 in my view somewhere. Rocco I’m with humphry all the way. Maybe some day, not now for all the reasons stated.
    Preece, the asterisk and shoulda, woulda, coulda is for losers. Is he in the top ten of all time great modified drivers……..you tell me where.

  31. darealgoodfella says

    Jeffrey… What about Evans?

  32. darealgoodfella says

    The thing is, Colby doesn’t have to race, he just drives. He’s been lucky to be in cars with very powerful engines, sweet carburetors, and top notch SPEC motors. And let’s not forget the flux capacitor.

    Evans, Stefanik, Bodine, Cook, Spencer, etc., these guys RACED!

  33. I love Dareal’s off off off broadway remarks. Take a ride to berlin and look at the plantation that SK racing built for Rocco. I think you will change your mind about tour racing. Rocco could of raced on the tour the last 10 years and not made the money that he has SK racing. I know that FACT bothers the purest Mod guys, but go look for yourself.

  34. Thats Bigly dareal not Huge.Racer makes an incoherent post and follows it up with a more incoherent post.BTW where do I find these hilarious emojis?Are they sold out for Christmas?I could keep Doug wound up all winter with just a few well placed ones.Hope there back in stock b4 xmas.

  35. darealgoodfella says

    art, I really meant Y-U-G-E. 😉 🎯

    Don’t worry, 🤬Dougie🤬🔅💢 keeps himself wound pretty tight all on his own.

    Jeffrey, let me know how you are doing, I have lots of this for you… 💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💵💵💵💵💵💵💵. Cheap rates too. More than enough for a double stacker filled with your favorite chassis.

  36. Doug said:
    Nascars 2003 list of the greatest modified drivers. Evans, Stefanik, Cook,Hendrick, Bodine, Hirschman,Stevens, Desarro, Spencer and Ruggiero. Clearly Coby and Christopher should be on that list now.

    thats a ‘NASCAR” list. theres alot more to modifieds than just NASCAR. from the 70’s through the present, all modified racing inclusive, Jarzombek and Troyer are surely top5. Matt Hirschman and TC are top 10. Cook, in my opinion is at best a top 15 guy. thats still a great accomplishment, but Bodine, Reggie, Bugsy and certainly Stefanik should be higher than Cook, all things considered.

  37. darealgoodfella says

    Doug wrote, “Not a Cook fan as my reference to him ranked third by NASCAR proves, rumblings of Stefanik to the Hall of Fame are not mine, I completely admit I do not have the knowledge to rank the top ten property other then Evans and I provided historical reference to rankings by those more knowledgeable.”

    What property are you ranking?

  38. Realworld said:
    Take a ride to berlin and look at the plantation that SK racing built for Rocco. I think you will change your mind about tour racing. Rocco could of raced on the tour the last 10 years and not made the money that he has SK racing.

    exactly mr realworld! same can be said for guys racing open comp! nowadays, the only people racing NASCAR WMT full time are people with $$ to burn! therefore, what we have on the tour full time is a half dozen or so good drivers and another 10 cars and drivers with $$ to burn thinking they are big time cause they run the tour, but wouldnt have qualified (or would have been also rans) at open events like the NSS, any TTOMS, the Turkey Derby, etc…
    rocco is doing it the smart way, good for him!!

  39. No I’m good with the emoji’s Art. If you girls want to play with them knock yourselves out.
    I mentioned the 2003 NASCAR ranking only as a reference. Clearly out of date. Cook, a Hall of Fame inductee down to 15th Phil A, fine. Don’t agree but put him anywhere you like. It’s for fun. But if we’re all being honest here none of us has the knowledge to rank them even remotely properly. You’d need a computer algorithm to do it and even then the argument would be about what criteria to use and what weight each would get. That’s why no other credible source rates them. To many changes since 1948, too many formats, longevity vs short term accomplishments. Can’t be done. Except Evans. Number 1.

  40. Fact is Phil A you could level that cheap shot of yours about the middle of the pack at any racing series, any racing division at pretty much any time in history the same way. Money to burn. All racing is burning money. If it was profit based you’d be sitting in the stands by yourself watching the grass grow. What I don’t get is why people such as yourself get off so much a belittling the majority of the field that does not win. You place no value on improving from 13 to 8th. Those people you mock that you say are running the tour just to pretend they are big time have their own goals. May be improving, having a good race, having fun, enjoy being part of something, sharing experiences, traveling and the challenge of different tracks. And yes they race as funding allows like EVERY OTHER PERSON THAT RACES ANYWHERE DOES.
    My suggestion. Get Amazon Prime video and tune into the first season of Route 66. Relax and enjoy seeing Buzz and Todd cruise the famed highway in their classic Corvette enjoying new adventures in different locations in a simpler time.

  41. It doesn’t need to be a zero sum game. Rocco and his formula for success and any tour drivers does not have to be at the cost of the other. They can each exist in their own spaces and be successful and neither have any relevance to the other.

  42. darealgoodfella says

    Doug wrote, “If you girls want to play with them knock yourselves out.”

    What exactly do you think you are achieving by calling grown men girls?

  43. Grown men. With those symbols. The smiling turd. Nope, not seeing it. Actually I’m starting to like them cause they’re kind of like warning signs. Caution, do not enter. Dummy at work.

  44. darealgoodfella says

    Doug, you are wrong. Bodine wasn’t going into the HoF because of his family business, TC wasn’t going into the HoF for his transmission shop, Evans wasn’t going into the HoF for his garage. Stefanik wasn’t going for working in his father-in-laws speed shop. Those that got into the HoF got there because they were DRIVERS at the highest level of their class, and a class that was substantial. SK racing doesn’t cut it.

  45. darealgoodfella says

    Doug, you’re looking like a misogynist.

  46. Ok the fenders on my old plow truck are welded up. 20% rotted out and I fix them when new ones can be purchased for $70. Checking the fitment in the rain as well. Really how dumb is that?
    So what did I miss? Oh yes, emoji guy or girl as the case may be. My comments suggesting you could be a little girl Lionel Train Engineer was not misogynistic. It was sexist implying young teen girls tend to engage in nonsensical emoji’s whereas young teen boys don’t. No hate implicit or explicit implied. Except for you and its more like complete disregard for you as a human being which leads me to Goeff Bodine. Say what? I don’t know who you were responding to cause it wasn’t me on Bodine. Not like I’d care. You’re not right boy. Or young lady as the case may be.

  47. darealgoodfella says

    Doug, I could have listed many other drivers that you did not mention. Does not mean I can’t bring them up.


  48. Another guy who is a hall of famer in my book was the late, great George “Moose” Hewitt. From racing motorcycles to modifieds he was one of the best. Now here was a guy that built his own chassis and engines and was one of the most hard nose racers in the sport of modified racing I ever had the pleasure of knowing.

  49. Wtf. What about championships. Facts are facts. Just keep racing doug. You the man
    I.am a sucesful hedge fund manager . Thats what I do..at closing bell yesterday I nade 57000 dollars

  50. You Jeffrey are a habitual liar. Good luck with that.
    I guess your point emoji man or young lady was that nothing matters except the success of people as drivers in consideration of their status in modified history and that success in the SK division is not worthy of consideration in the pantheon of great drivers. Agreed on the first part and it would be nice to hear from other folks on the second. As an SK fan I’m not objective.

  51. Where did Moose Hewitt race most frequently. I recall him at Thompson with that unique number lettering on his car but can’t recall him so much at Stafford. He never raced SK’s did he?

  52. darealgoodfella says

    Jeffrey, Doug doesn’t let facts get in his way.

  53. Doug, he won 5 championships at Waterford. From what my father in law told me, Moose and Bob Potter were huge rivals back in the day.


  54. Thanks Zeke for the link. My loss not seeing him more.

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