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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


Doug Coby Makes Late Race Pass World Series Win
Collects Third NWMT Title
  by Polly Reid

When the final checkered flag waved at the World Series weekend at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, NWMT Director Jimmy Wilson came over the 2 car radio and gave Doug Coby a few instructions before simply stating, “You are the champion.”

The hype leading into the series finale was over. The three-way battle for the title at the green flag between Coby and Ryan Preece tied for points and Woody Pitkat a mere four points behind, was done.

Doug Coby of Milford, CT brought the Mike Smeriglio III owned, Dunleavy/HEX Performance/A&J Romano sponsored modified home for the NWMT Sunoco World Series 150 win and the 2015 NWMT Championship.

Leading 93 out of 150 laps including a decisive pass for the top spot with five to go, Coby put an exclamation point on a season that was not perfect but worked out perfectly.

“It’s a special feeling when you have a car that’s this good - to drive for a team that puts their heart and soul into racing modifieds,” said Coby in victory lane.

“Everybody on this team believes in the modified Tour- I’m just so proud of them for how hard they battled all season - we won seven races out of fifteen and six poles. It’s so competitive on our series, it just shows how much effort they put into being here. What a phenomenal pit stop they had - Justin Bonsignore’s team is a great pit stop crew and we came out right there with them - the car just couldn’t be denied today.” Coby continued talking about the pass he made with just five to go. “Justin was snug, then he got loose, I just wanted to stay out of trouble - I was trying to run the bottom and stay away from him then he got real loose coming off of four and I thought alright, I’m going to put it next to him in turns one and two.”

Following Coby across the line for second was Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville, NY in the Ken Massa owned, M3 Technology sponsored modified with Timmy Solomito of Islip, NY ending his season with a strong podium finish in third. Fourth went to Todd Szegedy in the Bob Garbarino owned, Montanari Fuel sponsored Mystic Missile with Woody Pitkat surviving the unexpected challenges in the Buzz Chew modified crossing for fifth. Ryan Preece flirting with the top five all day finished seventh.

“I think Doug was toying with us,” said Bonsignore with a smile. “He’s been the king this year- congrats to them and their championship. We really wanted to win the World Series, we’ve won all the other big races here and it would have been nice but the way our season has gone, this is a really good run for us. We’ll go into the winter with this as a good notebook and come back next year hopefully stronger than ever and give these guys a run for their money. I’ve got to thank my whole team, M3 Technology, Ken Massa, my crew chief Billy (Michael) and the entire team- they’ve done a great job this year - they never gave up - we’ll come back stronger next year.” In the hunt for the win, there is no doubt Bonsignore and the M3 Technology team will return next season more focused and determined than ever.

“These guys gave me a really good car today,” said Timmy Solomito. “We were just a little bit off compared to the 2 car- he’s been strong here all year. I’m really happy to come out with a strong finish for the Flamingo gang- these guys stood behind me all year. I can’t thank Sly, Tim, John, Jerry, Paul, the whole entire crew - they all stuck behind me all year.” The Eric Sanderson owned, Diversified Metals/R.B. Enterprises Ford will be another one to watch in 2016.

Choosing the outside front row, Coby led the thirty-two car field to green with Timmy Solomito on the inside, Woody Pitkat third, Ted Christopher and Ryan Preece the top five. The first yellow of the day flew on the second circuit when Steve Masse ended up in the front stretch wall.

Coby restarted the field again from the outside this time with Christopher lining up second, Solomito, Pitkat and Donny Lia the top five. Preece had been shuffled back to seventh.

While Coby stayed on the point, Pitkat took over second but it was clear a few circuits later that Pitkat was sliding backwards. A tire going down, Pitkat was involved in the next caution on lap 17- damage to his rear bumper, Pitkat was able to drive away but was penalized a lap for bringing out the caution.

Coby continued to command the front spot until gathered in on lap 42 for a caution.

The yellow waving on lap 52 was a break Pitkat needed, receiving the free pass, putting the Buzz Chew Chevrolet back on the lead lap.
Coby led the restart, Bonsignore, Solomito, Christopher and Preece the top five, Pitkat was taking to task of passing one at a time - 16th on lap 65, he had moved up tenth just before the half way mark.

The green run continued with Coby, Bonsignore, Solomito, Christopher and Szegedy the top five. Preece was following close in sixth.

The timing of the caution on lap 90 brought the leaders down pit road- the pit stop a possible make or break for the championship contenders. Bonsignore was out first with Coby, Bobby Santos, Timmy Solomito and Ted Christopher the top five who all lined up behind Patrick Emerling who had pitted earlier and stayed out. Preece was seventh and Pitkat who had worked his way all the way up to eighth made two trips to pit road and lined up towards the rear of the field.

A yellow on lap 99 kept the field together and on the restart, Emerling led Bonsignore, Santos, Coby, Christopher, Solomito and Preece.

Bonsignore made his move passing Emerling to become the third leader of the event on lap 103. Coby in third passed for second and with 40 to go it was Bonsignore leading Coby, Emerling, Solomito and Preece the top five.

The laps ticking off as the green flag run continued, Bonsignore was shadowed by Coby with Solomito, Szegedy, Emerling the top five and in the hunt digging was Preece sixth and Pitkat seventh.

Ten to go, Bonsignore and Coby pulled from the pack – with Pitkat now sixth and Preece seventh, Coby was on course for the title.

Coby however saw the window open a bit and timing his move, passed Bonsignore to become the final leader on lap 145. Coby stretched his sprint to the finish crossing the line for the win, sweeping all four NWMT events at Thompson this season successfully defending his title pulling into victory lane the 2015 NWMT Champion.

Bonsignore, Solomito, Szegedy and Pitkat followed for the top five with Emerling, Preece, Christopher, Rookie of the Year winner Chase Dowling and Donny Lia the top ten.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Coby about being a three time NWMT champion. “The last five, six years of my racing career have been amazing for everything that is going on. Woody and I are kind of cut the same way. We both struggled to find full time rides and now, we’re competing for championships- it’s just really neat. It just shows you have to keep digging, talking to people, meeting new people and driving race cars. Good things happen and that’s what happened today.”

“We had to battle all day,” said Pitkat. “I had a tire going down and tried to ride it out, ride it out. Then I got run over from behind- at that point, I just stopped.” That’s when the call was made to penalize the 88 car one lap. “Unfortunately, it’s a tough outcome. I never gave up, we never do, I just drove my butt off all day.” Pitkat went from a lap down in the early stages, to getting back on the lead lap and set to task making it into the top ten just before the half way mark. Pitting again on lap 101, Pitkat did it again- drove from the back to the front. Up to sixth with ten to go, Pitkat got by Emerling in the closing circuits to make it a top five finish. “It was a bad day from the start, one we didn’t need today, unfortunately, it is what it is. I can’t thank these guys enough- Buzz and Bryan and all those guys, I really wanted to win it for them. The crew gave 150%. Spot (Ron Ste-Marie) the crew chief does an amazing job, like I said yesterday, the guy is like a brother that I never had- I just love those guys. To be able to come in here and say we were running for the championship is huge. We’ve been consistent; the only thing we need to work on is leading more laps and winning more races. Hats off to Doug and Ryan- those guys have been one, two for the last four years so to even be in contention with them shows how tough our team is.”

Pitkat came to the World Series in the hunt for three championship titles. The Stafford, CT driver captured two out of three - the VMRS Championship and the Thompson Sunoco Modified Championship. “All in all, it was a good weekend,” said Pitkat. “We got two out of three championships. To be able to come here and contend for three championships, it’s the crews, the sponsors, the car owners, it’s all those- I couldn’t do it without the people that are around me. I’m the lucky guy to hold the wheel.”

Coby was asked how big today is. “It’s a big deal. Modifieds are king where we all live and this is what we do. We might not get the respect nationally that we all know the series deserves but to be at the top of the series it means a lot to me because I know how good everyone is.”

“I’m proud of my guys,” continued Coby. “The mistakes I made - they brought out a new car at Loudon after I destroyed one at Bristol- that car is the backup car this weekend sitting up in the trailer with two poles, two wins in two starts and that’s the car we brought for our spare. Just a great team effort - I’m really proud of my guys.”

“I’m humbled,” said car owner Mike Smeriglio III. “It’s not supposed to happen like this. You know, to come back from a deficit of 32 points with four races to go, you’re not supposed to dominate - win two poles in a row, you’re not supposed to win three races in a row, it’s just not how it’s supposed to happen. But it did. And it’s because of Doug Coby- it’s Phil Moran that always says keep digging, keep digging- and when you think about it, winning four races at Thompson- having to come here to win that fourth one for the championship, it’s not supposed to happen that way - but it did and I’m forever grateful for the entire team, sponsors and really, Phil Moran. It’s his show, his talent, his leadership that’s brings us all together. Doug won the championship with the 52 team, but this season- it’s about the 2 team. Doug Coby is a three time champion- he’s in third right behind Richie and Mighty Mike Stefanik, it’s unbelievable.”

Smeriglio has surrounded himself with a team that has once again raised the bar. “It took me about six years to really believe in my own decisions. I believe it was around year seven is when we turned this thing around by not being afraid to make big decisions and let Phil implement those big decisions.”

It was a chance, but the team decided to take an opportunity they delivered on that ultimately led to successfully defending their championship title.

“The off season, Doug announced at the banquet that we had made the change to LFR Chassis and that we were going with spec motors,” said champion crew chief Phil Moran. “We were looking to improve our qualifying and win races- improve our short track program.” A win at Monadnock and two podium finishes at Riverhead “that was a big thing.” The win at Monadnock Speedway, Coby will tell you, was indeed a highlight of the season.

“I’ve got the best driver in the world,” said Moran. “He knows what he needs to do. Somebody asked me, ‘you’ve got to calm him down, look at the big picture’. He knew what he had for a car, he knew he could pass Justin clean so there wasn’t any chance of banging the car up or wrecking, that’s why he did what he did.”

“Nothing makes you work any harder than being in a hole after Bristol,” said Moran about the MS III Racing season. “People asked what our turnaround was- it wasn’t the win at Loudon. It was finishing second at Riverhead because that was the next one and Doug has always struggled so much at Riverhead and to finish second there, that was the turnaround.”

“The pit stop today was great, my crew did a great job, they always do,” said Moran. “I wasn’t nervous until five to go because you never know what’s going to happen.” Those final circuits that became the realization that they were going to win the race and the championship- that hit home, “that was pretty cool.” Stopping for a moment, probably for the first time of the day, the week or maybe even the season, Moran added, “it feels good, it just feels good.”

Starting with a flurry of snow at the green flag to crowning a champion at the checkers, Coby ended up with 613 points, Preece with 602 and Pitkat with 600. The eleven point spread is the closest finish since Coby and Preece settled the title in 2012 where Coby earned his first NWMT title.

NBCSN will air the Sunoco World Series 150 on Thursday October 22nd at 8pm ET. 
Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
: October 19, 2015

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