WATERFORD, Conn. – Doug Coby used to wonder when he'd win a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Waterford Speedbowl, wonder if he'd ever enjoy the kind of dominant run that the likes of some of the sport's best had enjoyed in their careers.
With his third win in the last four races on Saturday night, Coby doesn't have to wonder anymore.
The Milford, Conn., driver dominated the Tour's return to the Speedbowl, leading a race-high 119 laps en route to the victory in the Mr. Rooter 161 after holding off Ryan Preece on a green-white-checkered restart.
“I've been trying to win at this track for a long time in a Tour car,” Coby said. “My first career win should have come (here) back in 2004... and that was one that got away. We were terrible in practice, so anyone who thinks, 'You guys are always fast, you're up front and you qualify good – we were really struggling today. (The team) put their heads together, came up with a setup for time trials, got us up front and this car was just flawless.
“This win is a win for them.”
Coby heads to the next event on the Whelen Modified Tour schedule – at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 14 – with the series points lead and three wins in the first five races of the season.
“I've seen Donny Lia win a bunch of races in a row,” Coby said. “I saw Tony Hirschman win tons of races, and I wondered, 'Man, will I ever get to do that?' It's a really cool feeling. It's neat to have people feel good that my team and me are putting together the first half of a season that people are excited about.
“It's not the typical team or the driver that you all thought was going to be leading the points five races in or have won three races. I know that, and it feels really good.”
Justin Bonsignore finished second after sneaking past Preece in the final laps. Preece held on for third, while former track champion Ron Yuhas Jr. and two-time Tour champion Donny Lia rounded out the Top-5.
On the race's final restart, after a caution on Lap 157 erased a comfortable lead for Coby, Coby drifted out a little bit high heading into Turn 1 to force Preece out of the outside line. Though the contact was slight, it was just enough to break Preece's momentum and allow Coby to open up a two-car length lead down the backstretch.
Coby was unapologetic about the move; Preece seemed to take it in stride.
“The outside was the place to be on the restarts. (Preece) was getting great runs,” said Coby, who had just two career Modified Tour wins prior to this season. “I knew I had to take away the entry for him, and just kind of stay on the bottom up off and just change his line a little bit. I knew Ryan wasn't going to do anything stupid, so I guess I would take the chance and do something stupid.
“Hey, we're in Victory Lane.”
“It caught me off-guard. I didn't expect it – but, hey, he was leading,” Preece said of the contact. “He had to do what he had to do, but I'll remember it for next time... They're really on a roll right now.”
That they are, and it's a roll they'll take to New Hampshire in three weeks.