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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen All-American Series




Polly Reid

A caution with just a handful of laps left on the board set up a green white checker finish- with leader Doug Coby picking the outside lane, Ryan Preece the inside. The hard charging duo brought the fans to their feet as Preece used everything he had making a dash to the stripe edging out Coby for the win in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Mr. Rooter 161 at Waterford Speedbowl.

Coby crossed for a solid second with Donny Lia, Justin Bonsignore and Bobby Santos the top five.

The win marks the seventh of his career for Preece, his second victory in eight days. Driving for Eric Sanderson in the East West Marine, Diversified Metals sponsored Ford, Preece was nearly speechless in victory lane.

“What a race- I remember from last year, I went a little high and I did what he (Coby) did. We made a race out of it. We may not have had the best car but we have one of the best teams here. Everyone is a 100% behind me. I wanted to win this race more than anything. I looked at that trophy earlier, it’s unbelievable. Man, I’m still in shock right now.”

When asked in victory lane which win was more difficult coming from last to first at Stafford the week before or the green white checker with Coby, Preece did not hesitate. “This was harder than last week. Beating Doug Coby- he had a phenomenal car – it’s just one of those deals where sometimes the fastest car doesn’t always win- I really wanted this one.”

“I should have beat him,” stated Coby. “The 52 team had a stout car here tonight, the car was on rails.” It was indeed a near win for the Wayne Darling owned- Reynolds Auto Wrecking/Furnace & Duct sponsored Chevrolet. If the last caution didn’t come out, there is no doubtthe Milford, CT driver would have been the one in victory lane. Frustrated with the final caution that set up the green white checker, frustrated with the final start, in particular who was leading at the line, Coby put the night in perspective. “I’m happy for my guys, this is our first top five of the season. Hopefully we’ll keep on a roll here and get some wins later on.”

Donny Lia started the night 15th, kept his run clean and at the stripe, earned a podium finish. It was clear the Bob Garbarino owned, Circle Track Magazine sponsored Dodge was making strides forward. The Jericho, NY driver was in fifth by lap 30. Passing for fourth before the century mark, Lia passed for third by lap 115. “We had a good car on the long runs. The yellows just killed us because it took us so long to get going. These guys had a pretty good battle up front- good job to both the 52 and the 16. I want to say thank you to my team- they gave me an awesome race car tonight and it makes it a lot of fun to come out here and run up front. Hopefully – going home to Riverhead next week, we can go there and do well at my home track.”

Coors Light Pole winner Todd Szegedy in the Mike Smeriglio owned, Dunleavy Repair/ A&J Romano Construction Ford was looking forward to Waterford being the turning point to the season. Szegedy was well on his way setting a solid pace and completing strong restarts while the field sorted itself out behind the Ridgefield, CT driver.

A long green run brought Szegedy to lap traffic. Coby who battled Preece for second had just taken over the position on lap 97 and spotted opportunity. Quickly approaching lap traffic, Coby went high effectively keeping Szegedy in the low groove trapped behind the slower car and shot to the lead on lap 102. Once by Szegedy, Coby dominated.

“There is no question, I had the dominate car. I checked out from everybody,” said Coby. “The car was a little tight in the beginning, I was letting Ryan and Todd kind of play - I wanted to watch what Ryan was going to do to try and set Todd up because I figured if I was ever leading that’s what Ryan would do to set me up. I wanted to see what his car was doing. Ryan had a good car but I think he would have liked to have had more forward drive when he was making his moves. When it was time to go after Ryan and Todd, it was kind of neat to flip the switch on the car and race – the thing was awesome. That’s a step in the right direction for us.”

A restart with 35 to go was key for Preece. As Coby, Szegedy, Lia, Preece and Bobby Santos the top five, came around for the green, Preece made his move for second just prior to the next caution. The Berlin, CT driver would hold the position and with Coby on the outside, Preece the low lane, Coby surged to the lead on the next two restarts. The final caution of the night waved on lap 158 setting up the green, white, checker finish.

The assumption was Coby, who again chose the outside lane, would repeat a confident restart.

Flash back one year ago nearly to the day, this insert from the 2012 Mr. Rooter 161 race report, Coby and Preece: ‘Coming out of turn four, the green in the air, the pair sailed towards turn one. Coby adjusted his line, there was a ‘hip check’ as Coby called it unsettling the 16 car which quickly led to Justin Bonsignore in the M3 Technology Chevrolet, seeing opportunity and tucked low under Preece to claim second place.’

The 2013 version reads the same but different, Coby the winner last year, Preece this year.

Preece, up on the wheel matched Coby at the green and white. Coming around turns three and four for the checkers, a slight ‘hip check’ by Preece or as Coby called it this year, a ‘door shot’ settled the outcome. Preece crossed the line for the victory, Coby was right there for second and Lia with the best seat in the house watching the show claimed third- Bonsignore and Santos the top five.

Szegedy fighting a car with loose conditions wheeled his way across the line for sixth with Eric Goodale seventh, Rowan Pennink, Ron Silk and Bryon Chew the top ten.

“I did everything I could,” said Coby. “Ryan used me up, I used him up last year, next time around it’s my turn. We don’t have a rivalry, we don’t have a problem, we don’t have a feud - its two fast cars, two years in a row, it’s going to happen again.”

“Like last year, Doug had a really good car,” said Preece. “The way he was beating us on the outside, I just think he thought he was going to clean house on that restart. I guess he just spun his tires because we just had a really good start. That gave me the opportunity to get beside him- we ended up making it work and we won the race. It doesn’t get any better than winning on a green white checker.”

Preece remains the point leader, 17 over Rowan Pennink who closed his run at Waterford 8th. Preece spoke cautiously about leading the points. “There is still a long ways to go in the season. It’s only been four races. We’ve had a lot of good races so far. We’re definitely making leeway, winning races and that’s what we wanted to do. We’ll keep moving forward and see what we can do for the rest of the season.” Coby’s finish moves him to third in points, 21 behind Preece.

Back to back victories, car owner Eric Sanderson was proud of his driver and his team. “Last to first (at Stafford) and tonight? Both finishes were incredible. I’m stunned. Ryan had a great restart but based on the last restarts by Coby, I didn’t think we had a shot. I’m at a loss for words. Ryan runs good everywhere- big tracks, small tracks, it doesn’t seem to matter.” Sanderson added it was the first time the team collected back to back wins. Taking the season one race at a time, Sanderson is looking forward to next weekend. “I’m still smiling from Stafford and I’m going to be smiling at Riverhead too.”

“We struggled in practice like we did at Stafford,” admitted winning crew chief Stan ‘Sly’ Szaban. “We qualified good, we seemed to hit on some things at the end of practice that Ryan liked. He did a good job qualifying third. For the race, we made an educated guess on what we needed. It appeared it was working really well then the car went away and we dropped back to fourth. After that, it was all Ryan Preece. We needed to give him a better race car tonight- he made up for the deficiencies in the car. He brought it home for the win.” Szaban continued, “I thought Ryan handled himself very well the last three laps of the race- I thought it was good hard racing. Doug is a great race car driver and we enjoy racing him hard. I didn’t expect this win- when we started dropping back there I thought we would get a top five out of it. Ryan, he got up on the wheel and got more out of the car than I thought we had in it. The kid can drive a race car.”

The NWMT heads to Riverhead Raceway next Saturday June 29th for the Hoosier Tire 200, which due to work commitments, I will be unable to attend.

Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: June 23, 2013

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