BATTLE AT THE BEACH
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.
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
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 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
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.
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
“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
“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
“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
Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com