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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


Sweet Comeback For Coby  by Polly Reid

Saturday was a new day, a chance to steer back on track, an opportunity to turn things around. Carrying that mindset is one thing, achieving it is another. Following a disappointing weekend all around at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the MSR III Team set to task to do just that-focus forward. There could be no sweeter rebound than what Doug Coby of Milford, CT accomplished in the Mike Smeriglio III owned, Dunleavy’s Repair/HEX performance sponsored modified. Taking the lead on lap forty-five, Coby indeed kept the focus forward surviving several cautions, two red flags, heavy lap traffic and a determined Woody Pitkat in check to score the win in the NWMT O’Reilly Auto Parts 200 at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH.

Pitkat from Stafford, CT in the Buzz Chew/Elbow East Chevrolet crossed for second, Justin Bonsignore from Holtsville, NY in the M3 Technology Chevrolet was third, Todd Szegedy from Ridgefield, CT in the Garbarino Mystic Missile Racing Dodge was fourth and Troy Talman from Oxford, MA brought the Cape Cod Copper/DCU/NAPA modified home for fifth.

“You fans are awesome- you guys packed this place,” said an elated Coby in victory lane. “I hope you guys love it when the Tour comes here because we love this speedway, we love meeting you at the autograph session. It wasn’t green to checker show like last year- I think you got your money’s worth. You got to see my first quarter mile win ever. I’ve been racing since I was six years old, that’s almost thirty years now, what a great feeling it is for me, my family and crew to bring this LFR Chassis into victory lane. We’ve been close before, this is a special feeling.”

“It’s a great night for our team,” said Coby. “We bounced back from a rough day at Loudon- that’s what you have to do if you are going to be a champion. You have to take the bad and the good, make it all work together. That’s what we’re going to do the rest of the season, chip away.”

The 28 car field was led to green by pole winner Ryan Preece from Berlin, CT in the TS Haulers/East West Marine sponsored, Ed Partridge owned modified with Coby on the outside. At the green, Preece gained the edge with Coby tucking in for second, the duo nose to tail breaking from the pack until the first caution on lap 33. Preece remained the leader through the next restart but coming into turn three, Coby tucked low, side by side with Preece, Coby emerged out of turn four to become the new leader on lap 45.

Once Coby passed for the lead, Pitkat followed putting Preece now in third place. A caution pulled the action in again and on the lap 54 restart it was Coby, Pitkat, Preece, Szegedy and Bonsignore the top five.

Anthony Nocella took a hard hit into the turn two outside wall on lap 74, the yellow flag turned red for the lengthy fluid clean up. Several cars pitted including Preece who came back on the track to restart from the end of line. Coby led the restart with Pitkat, Szegedy, Donny Lia and Andy Seuss the top five, Bonsignore sixth.

At the half, lap 100, it was Coby, Pitkat, Szegedy, Seuss, Lia the top five. Bonsignore made his move passing Lia for the fifth place spot three circuits later.

A restart on lap 124 had closed the field again when a jumble of cars nearly collected in turn four two circuits later. They straightened out to continue forward motion only to tangle going into turn one bringing the action to a halt. The red flag unfurled for the cleanup that involved Bobby Santos, Joe Ryan Osborne, Jeff Goodale and Timmy Solomito.

The final sixty-six circuits was fast and continuous green flag racing. Coby, Pitkat, Bonsignore, Szegedy and Talman held their position as multi-tasking between managing lap traffic, holding their spot and trying to gain on the leader became the priority.

At the checkers, Coby dominated the top spot crossing the stripe to claim his 13th career NWMT win, his first ever at a quarter mile short track. Pitkat, racing with the big picture in mind crossed second, Bonsignore, winner of this event the last two years followed for third, Szegedy off of his NHMS win a week ago was fourth and NWMT rookie contender Troy Talman in the Boehler machine finished fifth.

“I got the lead from Ryan and I didn’t want to give it up,” said Coby. “The car was good all night- I think it could have even gone longer- that’s a huge plus for us and great for our notebook on quarter mile tracks. To come from Riverhead with a third and here tonight, I think we proved we have a good little quarter mile set up. This is the car we wrecked in the All Star Race- it’s been our work horse all year. Phil (Moran) obviously did a great job repairing it and getting it back here in the short last seven days.”

Woody Pitkat was a threat all night but had to settle for second. “We had a bracket break earlier in the day and we didn’t get as much practice as we wanted to,” explained Pitkat. With their practice session cut short by nearly half the allowed time, the team went back to what they knew would work. “We had to throw a set up into it that we knew would work because we were trying a different set up and we just didn’t know enough about it. It timed really well, fourth- you know, Spot (Ron Ste-Marie) and the boys, they worked their butts off and they hit it pretty close. I can’t thank them enough for giving me a car as close as they did with the less practice we got. Doug had a really good car, hats off to those guys.”

Pitkat continued, “I’ve got to thank Buzz and Bryan Chew for giving me this opportunity to run this car. These guys have been together so long, they work so hard and it’s fun. To go to the track and know that you’re going to have a good car when you unload, it makes life a lot easier, a lot less stressful- it makes it a lot of fun. I just can’t thank these guys enough. I try to focus, go to the gym, take care of myself, eat right and be the best I can be every time I go out on the track. If you think about it, it was a good points night- we’re going to Stafford and Thompson, some good tracks – we just need to keep the ball rolling and keep making it better.”

Bonsignore started third and dropped back to sixth making the climb back to third with fifty nine to go. A strategy they used last year to win, the cards didn’t quite fall totally their way this time. “It worked last year and I was committed to do it again this year. The car wasn’t perfect tonight, I can’t even say it was a touch off, they were just a little bit better than us. When everyone is so close, when they are just that little bit better, it makes it very tough. I was committed to run a pace I felt was comfortable. I shouldn’t have lost as many positions as I did, I should have tried to stay in that top three or five a little bit better. I fell too far back. We were coming to the front, I got to third and I was like, ‘alright, this is like old times, we can do this’. I got to them and that was it, I was holding on for dear life. Ken Massa and Billy Michael have done great all year with this SPAFCO and hopefully this is a little bit of a turn for us. I probably fell back a little further than I wanted to and used it up too much getting back to third. We were coming on them at the end and maybe with a restart I could have done something with them but we’ll work on it and come back next year. All and all it was a good night.”

“I didn’t realize this was Doug’s first win on a quarter mile,” admitted winning crew chief Phil Moran. “I’m glad we could get it for him. The 2 Team has always had good cars here at Monadnock- when Todd drove for us we won two of them here and now, to get Doug his first win on a quarter mile – I feel good about it.”

The week between Loudon and Monadnock was non-stop for Moran and the MRS III Racing team. “It was a busy week, both cars were wrecked. This car we won tonight with was in the All Star Race that ran four laps and took a wreck. It was a lot of work getting everything back together. It was a hot week- but we did it. We’ve got a really dedicated crew, they really stick it out with us- I can’t thank those guys enough.”

Looking ahead, Moran and the team are ready. “We’ve had a fast car at Stafford- we just haven’t had the results that we needed. I’m really looking forward to going back there. Every time we race this LFR car, we’re learning more and more about it. We’re finding the little quirks that it likes. Every race car likes different things- we’re starting to find out what this thing really likes and its working great for us.” Three wins out of eight races this season, the 2 Team continues to be one to watch. “We’re real happy. Let’s keep on going.”

“I’ve been doing this for ten years,” said winning car owner Mike Smeriglio III. “Every win is special. What the team went through at New Hampshire, as fast as we were and to get bit- then to have to repair two cars in a short period of time then to come out and really dominate tonight, it’s pretty special. As you know, I’m a numbers guy- three for eight is pretty special. I’m thrilled and I couldn’t be happier for Phil, for Alex, Bob and Hoppy- it’s all about those guys. I’m fortunate to be a part of it. I’m a little humbled right now.”

Rounding out the top ten was Eric Goodale sixth, Shawn Solomito seventh, Andy Seuss, his car renumbered 13 finished eighth, Chase Dowling ninth and Ryan Preece tenth.

The NWMT point leader going into the race, Ryan Preece was setting up for a blistering day earning the Coors Light Pole Award but had to pit during the first red flag on lap 74. While Preece came back to finish tenth, the top runners were able to capitalize on Preece’s set back. Pitkat left the fast high banked quarter mile the new point leader, 3 tallies ahead of Preece. Seven races left on the schedule, the title chase is far from over. The NWMT heads to Stafford Motor Speedway August 7th for the Call Before You Dig 8-1-1 150.
Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
: July 19, 2015

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