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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



by Polly Reid & Denise DuPont

Doug Coby was pretty sure his car was going to be good for the race. Any doubt was swept away when after pitting around the half, the Milford, CT driver in the Wayne Darling owned, Reynolds Auto Wrecking/Furnace Duct sponsored Chevrolet restarted fourth and a handful of circuits later made a move low going into turns one and two passing Ryan Preece for the lead. Coby dominated the final 88 circuits winning the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway.

“This is actually the best race car I’ve ever driven in my life at this speedway. I want to thank John McKenna and Wayne Darling for stepping up and doing the whole season this year. What a great car- Ryan was very, very strong in the beginning, I don’t think I had much for him but we knew what change to make- at the end, we had a ton left, I could have gone another 200 laps, it was absolutely awesome.”

Ryan Preece crossed the line a strong second with Rookie contender of the Year Keith Rocco third, defending champion Ron Silk fourth and Jimmy Blewett fifth.

This is Coby’s third career Tour win, his second time wearing the victory garland at the Spring Sizzler. “To put my name on a Sizzler win list twice now is pretty dam cool – it’s nice to not be a one hit wonder any more on the modified tour, this is going to be a great season for the 52 team, I’m really, really excited.”

The day could have possibly had an entirely different outcome for Coby who acknowledged there was a chance they might not have even finished. “We had a Subway wrapper on our grill that shot the water temperature up, we were actually debating under one of those cautions with 48 to go to come into the pits and pull the wrapper off the grill. My crew chief told me there is a light in the car and if it goes on, you’re going to have to pull in. It never came on- it was just one of those things, someone got a sandwich at Subway and it almost ruined our race.” The wrapper hitched a ride on the 52 about the time Coby took the lead, around lap 112 and while it was ‘fine for a while’, Coby started to see the water temperature rise. “When I saw the temperature go to 230 I said that wrapper is going to ruin our race.”

Luck, maybe someone watching over the team, they made it to the finish. “That wrapper is in my helmet. It’s going right in the crystal vase they give you here.”

“How is second place not a good finish?” said Preece who started on the pole for the Sizzler and absolutely dominated the first half of the event. Coming up a little short at the end, Preece crossed for a strong second. “I had plenty of forward bite, I was just starting to get a little free and couldn’t roll the center quite as well- I know what we have to do the next time we come back and hopefully we can pop off a win next time.” Preece was the Sizzler pole winner setting a new track record in qualifying the day before. The Eric Sanderson owned Diversified Metals/R.B. Enterprises Ford led the most laps but today was not his day to lead the final circuit.

“For the first half of the race the car was awesome. I told Sly (Szaban) I thought the track was going to get free-er. He has 100% trust in me so I feel like it was a little my fault but I think when we come back the next time and get a pole, we should be able to lead the whole thing. We’re having fun- that car was phenomenal at the beginning.”

“The race had a lot of long green flag runs, so it actually worked in our favor,” said Rocco in the Wheelers Auto/Silver Dollar Construction Chevrolet. “The car was good right off the green but the longer you ran the better it got. The whole BRE Team they did such an awesome job turning this car around from the Icebreaker, they didn’t miss anything on this car.” Starting 9th, Rocco worked his way to fifth when a caution waved just shy of the halfway mark. Pitting with the leaders, Rocco restarted seventh. From there the Wallingford, CT driver worked his way to third behind Preece. And while Rocco challenged Preece, the Rookie of the Year contender crossed for third, a podium finish at the Spring Sizzler. “We really got to show what kind of a team we can be here.” A new combination with Rocco in the Boehler owned modified, there are definite signs this team is a contender – for more maybe than the Rookie of the Year title. “They make it really easy for me, we communicate good- it’s just a great combination.”

“I feel honored because it is a piece of history,” said winning car owner Wayne Darling. “If you’re going to win one, win something that’s been around for a long time. Now you’re in the record books.” While Coby was cruising around making it look easy to lead the race, Darling was in the stands, concerned. “When I saw the trash on the front grill, I said, oh boy, here we go, figured we were going to get some bad luck. I was the one to see the trash bag on the grill- the crew couldn’t see it, the spotter couldn’t see it, but it didn’t affect us.”

Darling left the decision to run the whole season up to the crew. “The crew said we’re going to do it- volunteers, they use up their vacation time to go to the races so that’s why we’ve never really ever done a whole season because without them, we don’t race. They got together and said yeah we can do it. I said Ok, let’s give it a shot.” Currently sitting second in the standings, four points behind leader Ron Silk, I don’t think anyone is questioning their decision to do the full season.

Darling and crew chief John McKenna have been together “at least 15 or 16 years” starting with a 4 cylinder truck they raced at Seekonk. McKenna echoed Darling’s thought on being in victory lane at the Spring Sizzler. “To be in the history books with all of my friends?” said McKenna, “this is huge. Watching the 3 (Boehler) for years and years, I’m from that ‘neighborhood’, to be in the record books with them, that’s huge for me.”

Aside from the Subway wrapper on the grill that no one could do anything about, McKenna talked about what they could control. “The second set of tires was way better than the first; we made some adjustments on the pit stop. We didn’t practice very well Saturday morning. We were actually surprised how well we qualified because we just couldn’t find it in practice for him. We made some changes for time trials, took a guess at how the weather was going to affect us for the race. The first set we kind of went overboard on the set up, that’s why we weren’t as good.” Prior to the pit stop, Coby was running second but not able to catch Preece. “We had a plan what we were going to do if we did over shoot it and the second set hooked up. Doug is real good, we can sit down with him, make a plan and once we make a plan and stick to it, we seem to have better success. Doug is always positive with us that fits into our group being that way. Even when I give him a bad car, he’s still positive about it. What I mean by that is he doesn’t complain, he’s like we’ll fix it, make it better for next time. It’s been good since he sat in the seat.”

Rounding out the top ten was Justin Bonsignore sixth, Ron Yuhas, Jr. seventh, Woody Pitkat eighth, Mike Stefanik ninth and Bryon Chew tenth.

Daniel Hemric Continues to Lead the “Sunoco Rookie of the Year” 2012 Battle

After the second NWMT, Rookie Daniel Hemric continues to lead the 2012 race for the “Sunoco Rookie of the Year” title competition. “It is an awesome race track with beautiful facilities for the modifieds. I really enjoyed coming here.”

The Hillbilly #79 car did not have a great qualifying run. They were the first car out on the windy day and being first during qualifying runs is not the best place to always be. “We had a pretty decent car,” said Hemric. “We did not get quite the result that we wanted but we did finish the race though. So that is a good way to build for the next race. I have to thank the Hillbilly race team for giving me a good race car.”

As the laps ticked off Bryan Chew was able to get by Daniel Hemric after a restart. Hemric appeared to have the faster car but he was unable to make his way around Chew for a top ten finish. “Obviously we really wanted to get a top ten, but we also wanted to be able to roll the car on the trailer (hauler). I tried to get by him (Bryon Chew) for tenth but I lost a little bit too much forward drive and momentum. We were better than him in the center and he was better than us off. I made a couple of attempts but we did not have it.” Hemric finished the Sizzler eleventh.

Did you feel that you made you pit stop at the right time? “The way that tires were going I felt when we needed to pit that I would be on the same pit as everybody else. Then I felt maybe we should stay out and get our tires later but track position was really the key so we will build on that for the next time we come back- we know that qualifying here will be the biggest thing.”

The next NWMT event will be at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH on May 12.

And finally, Denise DuPont and I want to welcome our new ‘Cover It Live’ sponsor, Seekonk Grand Prix.

  Source: Polly Reid / Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: April 30, 2012

©2012 GeeLaw Motorsports/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.