Home Track Hero: Doug Coby Ready For National Stage With Camping World SRX Series At Stafford

Doug Coby (left) and Camping World SRX Series co-founder Tony Stewart focused on series practice Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

On Saturday night the eyes of the motorsports world will be focused squarely on Stafford Motor Speedway as the Camping World Superstar Racing Experience makes it national TV debut.  

Names that carry legendary status across all realms of motorsports will grace the track for the made for TV brainchild of NASCAR Hall of Fame crew chief Ray Evernham and NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Tony Stewart. 

From Indianapolis 500 champions to NASCAR Cup Series champions, the resumes and accomplishments of the drivers that hit the track Saturday at Stafford run the gamut. 

But there will only be one driver on track Saturday who can say they’ve run thousands of laps and won championships at the historic half-mile. 

Five of the six SRX events this season will feature a driver with history at the facility the series is racing. When it came time for Evernham and Stewart to make the call on who the local driver at Stafford would be, six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby got the call. 

The 41-year old Doug Coby has been competing at Stafford since he was a teenager. Before making his way to the Whelen Modified Tour he won both a Late Model and Pro Stock division championship at Stafford. He also has 12 career Whelen Modified Tour victories at the track. 

“It’s just a big deal really for all of short track racing,” Coby told RaceDayCT. “Just the fact that Stafford Speedway is going to be on CBS national television live at 8 p.m. and that short track racing across America is going to be highlighted for the next six weeks, I think it’s really important for motorsports in general. That’s something that [Ray Evernham] has been very vocal about is that this series is not a direct competitor to NASCAR or IndyCar or anything else that’s out there. It’s just meant to be something different. Anything that puts American eyes on short tracks is a good thing. And for one of our tracks which we all know puts on great racing every Friday night. 

“And for a track that I’ve had a ton of success at in all sorts of divisions, including the [NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour], to be the guy that’s tapped to go against them is awesome. The fact that the Indy 500 from two weeks ago [Helio Castroneves] is going to be at Stafford Speedway for his next race and I get to compete against him in a car that none of us has ever driven before, that’s just something that I couldn’t turn down. I feel like at this stage in my career I feel like I have to make decisions that are good for my race team and good for me and good for the sport.” 

Coby is not the only Whelen Modified Tour star getting a chance this year with the SRX Series. Former series champion Bobby Santos III, who is also a standout USAC racer across the Midwest, will run the division’s July 3 event at Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont, Indiana. 

“I love that they’re giving the opportunity to local guys to race against us and those guys will probably beat us because it’s just the nature of the thing,” said SRX Series driver and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan. 

Said Evernham: “We wanted to add to the drama and excitement SRX will bring fans by adding a Rocky Balboa or Cinderella story to each week’s race. Our amateur all-stars will have the opportunity to prove they’re more than just the hero at their home track – that they, in fact, have what it takes to get up on the wheel against the best in the world.”

One person who will be cheering on Coby come Saturday night is CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus, who said he is not worried about the production value of events suffering should the local driver win.

“From the CBS standpoint I think that’s a great story,” McManus said. “That’s Rocky Balboa if that turns out to be the story and some of the great legends in the history of motor racing are being bested by the local hero. That’s a pretty darned good story.”

Coby understands the advantage he brings with him Saturday. Throughout its history Stafford has had a reputation as a track that many struggle to find a feel for. All drivers will be competing in equally prepared cars designed by Evernham. 

“Everybody knows that Stafford is a really tough place because both corners are totally different,” Coby said. “I don’t even know with these cars, what they’re going to want with the setups they have in them. The tires are really hard so they’re not going to grip in really good like the Modified tires would. There are some things that I’m only going to be able to try as the race unfolds and as my feeling in the car unfolds and I can pull every trick out of the bag that I have to see if it works. And if it works it works and if it doesn’t, I don’t know what to tell you.” 

Drivers will get their first opportunity to get on track in practice sessions Friday at Stafford. Coby is expecting he will be getting plenty of questions from other competitors about the track. How much he is willing to share he’s not sure of. 

“I think some of these guys are going to have questions that I’m not going to be able to answer because a lot of getting around Stafford is just experience and putting the car in different places in situations that work and don’t work,” Coby said. “I’ve had a lot of people ask me in other divisions what to do and I’ve tried to explain some stuff, and it’s just stuff that I do. And if you look at the line that I take around the track and what other people take in other divisions, we all do different things. There are drivers out there that are really successful at what they do and I can’t replicate what they do. 

“I think these guys will have some questions. I’m going to joke around with them as much as I can with whatever information I may be willing to reveal or not. Hopefully we have a good time. I have a ton of respect for those guys and I’m certainly not looking to mislead them in any way, but I also don’t feel like I need to give up my tricks to these guys who are some of the best in the world from different eras and different types of racing. We’ll see how it goes. It’s very possible that some of these guys could be a tenth of a second or more faster, so who really knows how it’s going to unfold. It will be an exciting day for practice to see how the cars go and who adapts quickly and ultimately who is going to be the most competitive lap time wise over the long haul.” 

Said Kanaan: “We’ll probably ask 400 questions to anybody that can answer questions for us. It’s not about running the track. The track you figure out. It’s the car. The car is a completely different feel than what we’re used to. It’s just all new. I’ll ask anybody that wants to answer me anything, but before we drive the car there’s not too many questions that we can ask.” 

Comments

  1. Jerry Fascione says

    Sharing information between drivers would be the best thing to do. This way the show which is most important we be improved. Everybody wants to see a good race and they choose Stafford for a reason. Stafford is a drivers track and they need to share information to improve the show. Good luck I’ll be watching.

  2. Of the national reporters included in the pressers Shawn was the one asking the question about quizzing Coby for tips on how to run the track. I got the impression that while being polite they were more concerned about the car.
    It’s a completely new animal so even Coby is going to be searching. They’re all good and all will be experimenting in practice and the races.
    It’s about finding the secrets to the car and I just don’t think Coby has that much more an advantage than most of the others. May end up they’re all so out of their element it may turn into a downright collaborative effort to advance the goal which is to put on a good show.
    In any event credit Coby for being honest. He might not be willing to share them either.

  3. It’s a really hard tire, that should provide a good deal of parity, reducing the influence of a perfect setup. The hard tire will make this a ton of fun.

  4. Does anyone’s know how many extra cars they are bringing. Hopefully half the field doesn’t crash the first turn like in Indy cars a lot of times. I hope they bring at least 4-6 so they can have a “race”.

  5. “Hopefully half the field doesn’t crash the first turn like in Indy cars a lot of times”

    What Indy are you watching?

  6. Does anyone know any tech specs on the cars? Nothing on the SRX website. Maybe 2900-3000 pounds and 700HP on hard-ish tires?

    I can’t help but think those with road racing or short track experience in heavier cars, like Super Late Models, TransAm TA2, or Xfinity might get comfortable more quickly. I really doubt they’re going to handle like an Indy car or modified, but they should be lighter than a Cup car. I picture them siding around a lot.

  7. With the hard tire, these cars are gonna slide, almost like on dirt but without the dirt. It could be fun watching the Indy car guys get acclimated… there will be NO downforce. Drivers with experience where sliding, loose and understeer are part of the ride will get used to this much quicker.

    From what I’ve read, the cars were designed to be a Swiss Army Knife, and attempt to be all things to all tracks, all the time. In other words, it ain’t gonna be a driver’s car. The drivers are gonna be tested, for sure. Those drivers that are used to high grip, high down force and/or soft tires, are in for a huge and rude awakening.

    The huge uprights that hold the “wing” will come into play when the car is sliding. That “wing” is pretty much useless on these tracks, very short chord length isn’t very productive.

  8. This series had to use a hard tire. They do not want tire wear to be a factor, just slap a set on and go racing all night with no concern for tire wear, tire changes, etc.

    Also, it helps keep costs down. Reduce maintenance and upkeep.

    This is all about the drivers, not the cars. The hard tire can even things up like nothing else. The hard tire will pretty much negate horsepower differences.

    Let’s see drivers drive. This is going to be fun.

  9. “With the hard tire, these cars are gonna slide, almost like on dirt but without the dirt. It could be fun watching the Indy car guys get acclimated… there will be NO downforce. Drivers with experience where sliding, loose and understeer are part of the ride will get used to this much quicker”

    I agree. Maybe Ken Block or Travis Pastrana should have been part of the series!

  10. Charles Goodyear says

    Are the tires bias ply or radials?

  11. Hopefully they have something figured out since Kenny Schrader tested at Stafford , had to call top Stafford late model teams for advice on getting through turns

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