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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



Preece and Dowling are Just Living the Dream by Denise DuPont

After a rain delayed day the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) started their feature event almost two hours later than planned. It did not make any difference to the fans though they were there for some NWMT racing and the grandstand remained standing room only to the end. As the temperatures dropped and the wind picked up, fans just added a layer on and hunkered down waiting for the ground pounders.

For the first half of the race things were mostly uneventful as Doug Coby from Milford, CT took the lead on the initial green flag and stayed there until a caution on lap 41. Most of the field pitted for gas and when Coby went to exit pit road he stalled the #2 Mayhew Tools/Dunleavy/AJ Romano Const. Chevrolet. With the delay, Coby found himself leaving pit road fourth and Ryan Preece of Berlin, CT had the lead without any hesitation. Preece remained in the lead until Coby on lap 78 retook the top position. Lap after lap it was Coby at the helm until Wade Cole of Riverton, CT spun on the front stretch to bring out a caution. It was then an opportunity for the field to pit for fresh rubber.

Eric Goodale of Riverhead, NY led briefly after the caution only to be brought up high and passed by Coby who wanted the top spot back.
From there on it seemed like it was going to be a Coby show as caution after caution and even a red flag Coby led. Then with only fourteen circuits to go, Preece made his way by Coby and never looked back. He stayed in the lead after one more late caution and crossed the finish line first to capture his first ever Stafford Motor Speedway Spring Sizzler win.

Preece was all smiles and overjoyed with the win. He was so excited he pulled up to the starter stand to get the checkered flag and when he went to spin the tires he dropped part of the #6 modified's drive train. He then sat there stranded as he waited to be towed to Victory Lane. “I do not even know what to say to be honest with you” Preece said after drinking the milk and donning the flowers. “It was a long hard run. That is all that I have to say.”

Preece has taken the responsibility of working fulltime on the #6 modified to better understand the car that is under him. “I am now working full time on this race car. I have learned a lot about race cars over the past few year,” confessed Preece. “I said to my father that I want to be in control. I really have to thank my father, Jeff Preece, and Mike Paquette. They have taught me so much growing up and I am so excited that I can apply it.”

After trailing Doug Coby by three seconds, what was your strategy? “Beat him!” Said Preece jokingly. “He had the car to beat the first half and the next 30 to 40 laps just played right into my hand.”

“I have to thank Eddie and Connie Partridge for believing in me and let me drive this TA2 car, all my sponsors and Shawn Waddell for being a great spotter.”

After dominating most of the race Coby had to settle for a second place finish. Two of his pit stops were not kind to him. The one where he stalled and a second one where the soft tire he took did not grow as he needed it to for the race end.

“I could not do it without my guys. They are a great team and we will be back in the hunt. The right rear tire never came up on the second set so we were way shy on the stagger. The track had so much rubber on it that we were never going to fight through it.” Coby expressed after the race ended.

“We survived all those restarts on the end. The series has proven in the last two races that late race restarts do not work really well with all of us. It was good to see that there were only minor wrecks so everybody can go forward to Langley.” So with a second place finish at Stafford was not a win but a great recovery for Coby after Thompson’s bad luck at race start.

Chase Dowling of Roxbury, CT, started the race fifth and was a top contender for most of the 200 laps. He had come hot off of a 40 lap SK Modified win earlier in the day and was ready to challenge the leaders in the NWMT race.
This year Dowling has moved to the seat of the #15, Rob Fuller owned modified. “We had a good run with the #15 team. We were fast in practice an d then something happened in qualifying but we came back with a big rebound.” Dowling said about his day. “All and all we had a great race and a huge gain from last week. The crew and I were better. We stayed on the lead lap. There were a lot of wrecks at the end and I was trying to keep my nose clean. I got out in front of them and go forward.”

With an SK win and third place NWMT finish Dowling was having one of the best racing days of his life. “Today was a dream day. I was sitting in my seat during a caution thinking that things were going too good to be true. And then I was just waiting for something to happen. The team had a phenomenal weekend and I cannot thank my sponsors enough. Now I am going to have to prove myself in the tour this season.“

So the forty-sixth Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway comes to an end with Ryan Preece and Chase Dowling both living their dream. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will returns to the track at Langley Speedway on May 13. Please join us there for more racing as we continue to watch racers live their fantasies on the track.
Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: April 30, 2017

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