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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


The “Cement Palace” is A Challenging Small Bull Ring
by Denise DuPont

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) came to the quick oval of Seekonk Speedway for 150 laps of fast short track racing. The circuits clicked off fast with on track moves just as fast.

Doug Coby of Milford, CT came to Seekonk winless so far in 2017 in NWMT events. He finally made his mark by leading the most laps, surviving seven cautions, several restarts and red flags to cross the finish line first. With three circuits to go the green flag flew and Coby was able to hold off Ryan Preece of Berlin, Ct and Anthony Nocella of Woburn, MA to pull off his first 2017 victory. It has been a challenging year for Coby and the #2 Mayhew Tools/Dunleavy/AJ Romano Construction team who have with stood a lot of bad luck and unexpected finishers. To finally break through and complete a great run was an achievement the #2 team has been waiting to accomplish. Leading over one-half of the race shows the #2 team and their driver is ready to go forward and make their track presence known again.

“I am just excited that my guys made the changes that they did and gave me a car that ran in the middle as good as it was.” Stated Coby after victory lane ceremonies. “We were battling there for a while in the corners with Matt. He was pinching the corners and we tried to cross him over for position. We had a great car and it was everything that I hoped it would be. So this race with this tire, this car and with this series was really good tonight.”

There were a lot of cautions and most of them led to red flag conditions to allow safety crews to clear the track. The process was good for track crews, but modified tires cooled and made restarts continuity difficult. How did all these yellow/red conditions effect Coby’s racing? “On one hand I do not want to see the restarts because if I could stretch it out for four or five lengthens to make it easier to cruise around. On the other hand I knew on every restart the car did the same thing so it was predictable and I could make sure I did not screw up. If it was green flag racing and you are tight then you could get knocked around and if you are stretched out end to end those cautions eat up laps.”

“I did not like all those red flags. We have a series that courts caution flags for a reason.” Exclaimed Coby. “So when we go red when there is a wreck things change. I am not sure why we could not drive around and count caution laps to prevent the tires from cooling off. If this series wants to go red, just don’t count cautions laps and let us keep heat in the tires which would make for better racing for the fans. But instead we are trying to conserve laps because we count the caution laps. So we cool the tires off and cautions breed cautions because the tires have kind of an icy feeling for the drivers. Let come up with a new plan for the short tracks to make it work for us and the fans and eliminate our frustration.”

As the race unfolded drivers made their surge forward with some challenging Coby for his top position. Preece had been following him in second while Nocella had made his way from thirteenth into the top three. Nocella had the fastest car in the field and with more laps on the Seekonk groove than Coby or Preece he was ready to challenge. Coby knew there were strong cars there and ready to push him out of the way so he went into defense mode and covered the bottom. ”If I am going to have a faster car behind me near me, this is the track that I am going to want to have it.” Confessed Coby. “Because the faster car is in the crappier lane where you can be as fast as you want and when you try to stomp on the gas to get under someone you get free. I just knew I had to keep the car on the bottom and if he was able to go on the outside and use his nerf bar a little bit than maybe things would get tougher but with a green -white-checker finish where I was really strong and comfortable on the bottom, anyone would have to be superior or try to cross me over and get under me on the backstretch. And it did not seem like our entire package here was going to allow that to happen where the cars could move around a lot. If I just kept drivers on my outside near my right rear tire and they could not beat me so they would have to tuck in. Then you do not know if he is tucking in because he is fast and can give me a shot. And if he gives me a shot I would go way up on the track. So then it just is squeeze on the gas and try to get away from him.”

Nocella had only run with the tour drivers once before but with his home track advantage he gave it his all to test the NWMT teams skills. Starting mid-pack Nocella avoided incidents, ran a steady pace and broke into the top five on Lap 100. From there he made his presence know as he threatened the leaders for position. He was adept on the track and with two to go had second and made Coby work hard for the win.
“It was pretty awesome,” expressed Nocella with a big smile. “I was kind of an underdog coming into the race. This was only our second race out with these guys. Our car is always good here and we have won a few races with this car in the MRS and Tri-Track series. I also have a lot of laps here which helps out a bunch. I had a decent car all day here speed wise. We were not the quickest but we were pretty balanced which I think helps in the long runs.”

With a stable car under him Nocella was able to once again master his home track and challenge the tour drivers. “The car started coming to its own the longer that we ran while other cars just started to slow up. So we just kept on going and the car kept getting better and better as the night went on. It is tough racing with these guys because nobody is going to give you an inch. So I went to the bottom at the end and filled the hole. It is just short track racing I just kept plugging along and it is pretty awesome to pull off a second in only our second time out with these guys.”
Preece had a good car, timed well and stayed within the top five group for all 150 laps. He started on the outside pole, led for one lap, but did not have enough at the end to force his way under Coby for position.

At race end it was a green, white, checker finish. The final restart had Preece once again on Coby’s outside. Since the top does not have the grip of the bottom, Preece knew by turn two he had to get down if he was going to have any chance of getting past Coby. But when he went to go down coming out of turn three, Nocella was already there. Preece had to back off and control his car after making slight contact. After a brief squiggle, Preece collected himself and scrambled to get into third. He remained there to take home a podium finish. “I would not have expected him (Nocella) to lift. That is just racing. All I was thinking about really was that the #16 and 3 had issues during the race and I just needed a solid day. I have never been really out of this world here. I just had to be smart. I wanted to finish second because of Doug and to be there at the end. But ultimately it was a good day. Finishing third is not so bad.”

Matt Swanson finished fourth followed by Dave Sapienza for fifth. Justin Bonsignore, Matt Hirschman, Max Zachem, Gary McDonald and Wade Cole rounded up the top ten finishers.

Teams will regroup and prepare for racing next Saturday at Oswego Speedway in New York.

Notes from Seekonk Speedway:

What are your thoughts on racing at Seekonk Speedway?

Ryan Preece

“Seekonk does not work for my driving style. Maybe it is actually because I have not found a setup for me that works here. Maybe if the track put some rosin on the outside it would be great but this track is just tough for me. I am not a fan of racing in a small circle all race. It is just hard to hold back on the throttle.”

Doug Coby
“Oswego is like a big Seekonk shape wise. The difference between here and Oswego is that the gooey stuff allows you to have some grip on the outside and have some good runs and competition.”

Ted Christopher
“Running here you feel like you have a raw egg under your gas pedal and you have to drive so you do not break it.”

Heading to Oswego where you won last year your thoughts?

Doug Coby

“We won last year with a really good car. I babied that thing for 130 laps as a fuel consumption thing to ensure that we had something at the end. I told Phil Moran with ten laps to go at the end that I was going. I think we then ran our fastest lap with four to go last year. If we have the same car that we had last year it is going to be a lot of fun. If we don’t then we are going to have to work at it. It is a neat place and if they put that grippe stuff in spots it is going to be a good race. There was a great crowd there last year and it is a neat weekend. Something that brings the crowd out for that big Super Modified race. Hopefully we can win two in a row.”
Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: August 28, 2017

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