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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


Three Way Run to the Title Tightens With Two Races to Go  by Polly Reid

A caution with four to go set up a green white checker finish that pretty much had to be dissected under a microscope to determine the finishing order. What was crystal clear, at the yellow checker, was Doug Coby of Milford, CT brought the Mike Smeriglio III owned, Dunleavy’s Repair/HEX Performance Chevrolet across the line for the win in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Coby’s third career win at the Magic Mile, it is the first victory at Loudon for Coby with the MSRIII team.

Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, NY was second and Bobby Santos of Franklin, MA was third. Ron Silk of Norwalk, CT was fourth and Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville, NY fifth.

Doing what the modifieds do at the Magic Mile, the first half of the F.W. Webb 100 was a show with the lead swapped out officially eleven of the fourteen times before the competition yellow at lap 51. One thing that was consistent was Coors Light Pole winner Doug Coby was never far from being the car to beat. Woody Pitkat and Bobby Santos were the biggest threats to Coby in the first half but closing in fast was Ryan Preece of Berlin, CT who took the green flag 17th and by lap 40 was in second place following Coby.

A restart just before the halfway break with Coby and Preece on the front row- Preece edged out Coby but not for long as Coby dove low at the end of the backstretch and going into turn three re-established the lead.

At the half way mark and the competition yellow on lap 51, it was Coby, Preece, Pitkat, Santos, Timmy Solomito, Justin Bonsignore, Patrick Emerling, Andy Seuss, Eric Goodale and Ryan Newman the top ten.

Tires, fuel and adjustments – the action resumed on lap 54- Coby bringing the field back to green. Preece took over the lead on lap 60 only to have Coby come back and lead back on the next circuit. By lap 70, it was a four car breakaway with Coby and Preece nose to tail, Pitkat and Santos holding onto the draft in third and fourth.

With 20 to go, the four car breakaway turned into two- Coby and Preece still nose to tail as the green flag run continued. The big mover was James Civali of Meriden, CT in the Chris Our modified taking over fifth from Patrick Emerling, his sights set on Santos in fourth.

A caution on lap 85 for Max Zachem of Preston, CT who stopped on the access road closed the field up for a restart.

At the green, Troy Talman was spun in turn two pulling the field in tight again- now there was only six to go on the restart.

The third restart was not the charm when suddenly, Civali running fifth, was sent peeling through the infield grass in turn three coming back up the track collecting several cars. Civali was done for the day along with Eric Goodale, Matt Swanson, and Ryan Newman.
The caution turned to a short red flag for track clean up.

The F.W. Webb 100 was set for a green white checker finish.

Coby selected the outside row for the final restart. Preece on the inside had Santos behind for the push while Patrick Emerling lined up behind Coby. Todd Szegedy who won the race in July was fifth with Pitkat, Bonsignore, Seuss, Chase Dowling and Donny Lia the top ten.

Preece with the steam and push by Santos rolled into turn one for the lead, Coby tucked in for second, Santos and Pitkat the top four. The field took the white flag and the one spot where Coby had been strong, beating Preece all day, turns one and two, proved to be the surge point again. While Coby had in his mind where he was going to make his last lap pass through turns three and four, that went away when contact in turns one and two sent Preece sideways down the track.

Coby, Emerling and Santos moved forward while Preece suddenly heading in the wrong direction hit Pitkat in the low groove. That contact sent Preece into Ted Christopher who nearly made it through the sudden chaos. Christopher was ping ponged enough up the track that now Todd Szegedy ran out of room and his left side wheels ran over the right side wheels of Christopher sending Szegedy sideways off the ground into the turn two outside wall. Szegedy’s right side tires hung up on the safer barrier wall and the 4 car rode the wall seemingly like a roller in a groove.


The photo sequence from Jim DuPont helped me piece the last lap action together from the initial contact to the end of the incident.

NASCAR held the final results from second place on down for quite some time while the finishing order was carefully reviewed.
Coby the winner, second went to Emerling, Santos third, Ron Silk fourth and Justin Bonsignore fifth. Sixth went to Donny Lia, Jeff Goodale, Chase Dowling, Dave Sapienza and Woody Pitkat completed the top ten. Preece finished nineteenth.

“I got a run through the middle and I got into the back of him (Ryan Preece),” said Coby in victory lane about the last lap incident. “That is how it happened. I did not try to wreck him. It just happened. I was very content to push him off of turn two and I would get him in turn three. I am confident of that.”

“We’re all trying to win,” said Coby. “Depending on how the chess match plays out, you have a different strategy every single time, every restart, every lap. Ryan certainly was trying to do what he had to do as the leader of the last lap and I certainly wasn’t trying to win the race in the middle of turns one and two. My plan was to get a way better run than him off the backstretch and beat him into turn three. I attribute what happened in turns one and two to me having my plan and Ryan having his plan and our plans didn’t work together.”

“You can’t change the outcome of these things,” said Coby. “And if anyone wants to script it then you shouldn’t come. It’s wild craziness and it’s what we do.”

His best finish in 67 career NWMT starts, Patrick Emerling brought his Buffalo Auto Auction sponsored modified across the line for second for car owner Jennifer Emerling and crew chief Jan Leaty. This makes 8 top ten finishes for Emerling in thirteen starts- a season that continues to progress forward.

“We didn’t qualify quite how we wanted to, we ended up 12th but during the race we had a pretty good car. We managed to stay in the top ten most of the race. I gave my crew chief, Jan Leaty feedback and at the halfway break, we got the car a little better for us. Right towards the end, I did lose the draft but when we bunched back up I felt pretty comfortable in the car. We ended up with a second place out of it.”

“We’ve been focusing, trying to step up our game,” said Emerling about their season. “I have been struggling for years on this series. Last year, we started getting a little bit better and we have progressed this season. It’s just tough to run against these guys, the competition is so strong. Historically we do pretty well here, finishing in the top five frequently and we just work on getting better and better every time we show up here.”

“It’s pretty exciting because I knew we had a pretty good car towards the end there. It wasn’t quite a green white checker there which is too bad because I know we would have been right in the chase there. That was a big one there right at the end and it’s unfortunate but I guess that’s how it goes.”

“It’s our first win here with the 2 car,” said Coby about taking the checkers for car owner Mike Smeriglio III. That’s certainly fun and important to our team. You know we all treat Loudon different than any other track and for us to win here, together as a team, that’s a huge statement. And to have such a fast car in both races here – I think we could have won both, that’s exciting too.”

MSR III unloaded a new car for this trip to the Magic Mile. “When you build a brand new race car, Phil (Moran) builds them all the same. I can sit in those cars as a driver and never know which car I was in, that’s how close they are. Usually we like to shake a car down somewhere- a test session at Thompson or something like that just to make sure there are no leaks or something like that. This car was brand new here, first time on the track was yesterday morning – it was fast the whole time. Phil has a set up here at Loudon that we’ve been tweaking the last two or three races – he and Alex put a car together that I like to drive at Loudon and that’s the combination you need.”

“Winning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway means everything to modified drivers,” said Coby. “This is where we want to win all the time. I feel very fortunate to have won three races here, no matter how they come, they are always difficult. We had a stellar car today – great effort by my team all weekend- second in practice, pole and win- it really doesn’t get much better.”

The dramatic finish had a significant impact on the point standings. Woody Pitkat coming to the Magic Mile was trailing Preece by one tally. He leaves NH with an 8 point lead over Preece heading to Stafford Motor Speedway this weekend. Coby, 25 points behind prior to the green is now 11 behind Pitkat.

“It’s important to remember it’s a very long season – things can still change in two races,” said Coby. “You’ve got three teams that are very solid at Stafford and Thompson- just because we won the first three at Thompson doesn’t mean we’re going to win the fourth. Woody was strong there all three races. We have to do our job and keep putting fast cars together. Just go to Stafford, that’s all we’re focused on.”

The stage has been set- it’s down to three teams and two races to determine the NWMT Championship title. Next up is Sunday October 4th, 150 laps at Stafford for the NAPA Fall Final.

The F.W. Webb 100 will air on NBCSN October 1st at 7pm ET.

Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
: September 27, 2015

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