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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour




Polly Reid

The final restart with three to go, Ryan Preece who dominated the event was suddenly nursing a bent left rear wheel after contact with a lap car, brought the field to green going into turn one but coming out of turn two, it was Doug Coby of Milford, CT in the Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer Repair sponsored, Mike Smeriglio owned Ford the new and final leader taking the coveted NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour/NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour UNOH Battle at the Beach victory at Daytona International Speedway.

“You think your first win on the Tour is huge, then you win some more races, win at Loudon, then they put this race together for the modifieds to come to Daytona and you think wow, this is a huge opportunity to do something bigger than you ever thought,” said Coby. “Back when I was running quarter midgets as a kid, I never thought I would ever move up into racing like this, win a Tour championship or win a race at Daytona International Speedway, what a feeling.”

Jason Myers crossed for second Luke Fleming third with Ryan Preece and Burt Myers the top five.

“Ryan did an amazing job hanging onto it,” said Coby about Preece’s incident with the lap car. “His left rear wheel was really bent, caved in and the car was wobbling as he was coming to the green so I knew when we went into turn one he wasn’t going to have great forward drive coming off – he kind of missed the corner, the 07 got sideways and I was just turning left, putting my foot down to see what would happen and ended up getting the lead. Then it was two laps to go with a whole train of cars behind me wanting to win- I didn’t want to become what Ryan was the lap before. You just cross your fingers, hang on and hope the guy behind you does not wreck you. Jason Myers is a great friend of mine, we talk all the time, I knew he was going to do it the best he could, but I knew he wasn’t going to wreck me. He tried his hardest, I tried my hardest.”

Pole winner Ryan Preece in the East West Marine/Diversified Metals Ford brought the 26 car field to green on the .37 mile temporary asphalt oval at Daytona International Speedway with Donny Lia, Eric Goodale, Timmy Solomito and Doug Coby the top five.
Preece at the drop of the green wasted no time putting distance between himself and the pack establishing that he was indeed the car to beat. Solomito moved into second with Lia, Coby and Goodale the top five. As the green run continued, Preece was already in lap traffic with 15 circuits on the board.

The first caution waved on lap 18 when Rob Fuller spun in turn four. Meanwhile Dave Brigati in the Hill Enterprises ride pitted- done for the night, a suspected broken rack.

Preece, Solomito, Lia, Coby and Goodale the top five on the restart got in a few green flag laps until a lone car spun in turns one and two slowing the action.

Preece on the restart with Lia, Goodale and Jason Myers the top five took the green only to be pulled back in when contact on the restart damaged the car of Johnny Kievman.

Another attempt to restart, Fuller and John Beatty tangled in turn one and two. A quick red flag was needed to unhook the bumpers.
On the lap 48 restart, Preece was challenged side by side by Donny Lia – the top spot was settled and by lap 50 it was Preece, Lia, Jason Myers, Doug Coby and Justin Bonsignore the top five.

Green flag prevailed until just before the half way mark when A.J. Winstead spun in the infield.

Preece, Lia, Jason Myers, Coby and Bonsignore on the restart quickly fell into single file and by lap 100, Preece had gained nearly half a straight away lead on Jason Myers, Lia, Bonsignore and Coby.

The complexion of the race began to change when on lap 122, Donny Lia was off the track, suspected brakes the issue. On the lap 128 restart it was Preece still dominating, Jason Myers, Doug Coby, Justin Bonsignore and Patrick Emerling the top five. By lap 130 it was Preece, Coby, Emerling moved into third, Ron Silk fourth and Jason Myers fifth.

The yellow waved one circuit later for Cole Powell who reportedly broke a rear end closed the field again with Preece, Coby, Emerling, Silk and Jason Myers the top five.

The Battle at the Beach was heating up as Preece, heading into turn one suddenly made contact with a lap car that had pulled out of the way for the leaders but was not able to navigate the turn making significant contact with the left rear tire of Preece.
That caution set up a three lap shootout – Preece suffering with a bent left rear wheel had Emerling on the outside, Coby behind in third, Ron Silk, Jason Myers, Tommy Barrett and Luke Fleming brought it to green.

Preece made it into turn one but coming out of turn two there was no holding the car down in the preferred groove and Coby in third slid under Preece, Jason Myers followed with Luke Fleming third. Preece dropped in line for fourth.
Coby charged on for the Battle at the Beach victory with Jason Myers second, Luke Fleming third, Ryan Preece fourth and Burt Myers fifth.

“It’s Daytona, a win would have meant a lot to me, to my family,” said Preece. “But you know, we had the best car here and sometimes, the best car doesn’t always win.”

Tommy Barrett was sixth with Cody Ware, Ron Silk, Eric Goodale and JR Bertuccio the top ten.

“We’re real happy with this 2 team, this is a new ride for me,” said Coby. “I have to thank my car owner Mike Smeriglio and crew chief Phil Moran- Dunleavy’s Trailer Truck and Repair doing what they do to get us down here. Two in a row for this team here, they won this with Steve Park last year- this is survival here and we survived.”

“We had a heck of a run,” said Jason Myers. “We ran in the top five all night long, the 16 had a great piece, I knew Doug was going to have a good car, in this race down here with a green, white, checker, I don’t care how good your car is and I don’t care where you’re running at, you have to go for it.”

“This is my kind of track here,” said Myers. “We race Bowman Gray weekly but this is no comparison to Bowman Gray, this is my speed- brakes glowing all night long, running as hard as you can, give it all you got and put yourself in position for the win on the last lap, that’s about as good as it’s going to get.”

“This is Daytona, this is a big stage in front of a lot of people, this is awesome, it’s really exciting to finish third,” said Luke Fleming. “My car was just a little off on the quicker runs, once I got the car wound up and run a few laps I came up to speed pretty good, but I was just a little too far behind them to be a player and came up just a little short today.”

“This is special,” said winning car owner Mike Smeriglio. “So proud of Doug, he drove a smart race, kept his nose clean - somebody asked me can you dream this? I always dream of winning but doing it is a whole different story, this is absolutely wonderful. I’ve got to talk about the guys behind the scenes, Phil, Bob and Hoppy, we picked up some new guys, I’m just so happy for them. This adds credibility to what the 2 team is all about. It was a tough decision with Todd (Szegedy), I’ve talked about him a lot tonight because he means a lot to me. We’re really excited about the upcoming season, we just need some luck, we’re always prepared – it’s just a question of finishing the deal and I think Doug can do that for us.”

“I had high expectations when I came down here, but not this high,” said a smiling crew chief Phil Moran who mentioned a special thanks to Wilwood Brakes who worked with the 2 team a good part of the day- a call that played a significant role in the final rundown. “I was fortunate enough to have Alex come over to this team who’s been with Doug for a few years now – that was a big, big learning curve for me because he knows Doug. Alex helps with setup, he’s an engineer- helps with everything. Bob and Hoppy, I can’t say enough about those two guys. Bob had rotator cuff surgery the day after Christmas and he was down at the shop as soon as he could doing one arm stuff with a sling, working away and Hoppy, everyone knows Hoppy, he’s the best.”

“Looking at Ryan’s wheel, I knew he was going to be in trouble,” said Moran about the closing laps. “The car was just shaking too much – I talked to Doug and he said ‘I got it, I see it,’ – he knew what was going to happen- he knew Ryan was going to go into the corner and wash up and it wasn’t because Ryan was trying to protect himself- with a wheel bent like that, it shook the rear end and it just took the car up the race track. That gave Doug the opportunity to turn underneath him and go. From there it was brake square, keep everybody lined up behind you so that if they did try to do the bump and run, he was straight when they tried to hit him – he’s a smart driver, he did that all on his own, there wasn’t anyone telling him that- that’s top caliber, split second thinking- he’s a good driver and I can understand why he is a champion.”

Join The Chrome Horn tonight at New Smyrna Speedway for coverage of the John Blewett III 76 Memorial Tour type modified event. Several haulers left Daytona and headed straight to New Smyrna to park and prepare for tonight’s race.

Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: February 19, 2014

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