(Stafford Springs, CT)—Last season, Southington native Doug Coby captured his second career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship with 1 win, 9 top-5, and 12 top-10 finishes in the 13-race season. As Coby and the #2 Dunleavy Truck and Trailer Repair / Hex Performance Mike Smeriglio owned team prepare to defend the championship this season, they made an almost unprecedented move of changing both their chassis and engine. The #2 team switched their chassis from Troyer to LFR and will utilize the NASCAR Spec Engine this season.
“It’s very rare to win a championship and then take everything you won with and push it to the side in favor of something else,” said Coby. “We have to keep up with everyone else and we felt like last year the spec engine guys had a bit of an advantage over us at some of the tracks so we decided to upgrade to that. When Rob Fuller came out with the chassis, it was kind of a no-brainer for us with how close our team is with Rob’s team so we jumped on board. The only way to find out if something works is to try it and if something doesn’t work for us then we won’t do try it again. I think the only thing I’m worried about is having something unexpected break on the car. The combination we had last year was tried, true, and reliable and reliability is a big part of winning championships. It’s awesome to start a season knowing that you ended last year on top, but it also makes the bull’s-eye on your back bigger.”
Coby and the #2 team took a trip last month down to Caraway Speedway for the Southern Whelen Modified Tour opener to shake down the new chassis and engine combination. That experience, plus a test session at Thompson have Coby and the #2 team feeling comfortable as they prepare for the NAPA Spring Sizzler.
“We’re all ready to go,” said Coby. “I’m sure there will be some ups and downs during the season and we’ll have to deal with things as they come. It could be 14 or 15 awesome races or it could be 12 crappy races, we really don’t know. I think our goal is to improve on the car week to week. We went down to Caraway last month for the Southern Tour race and we had a small issue in practice and in the race. We lost some practice time and we lost 30 laps in the race. We had a fast car and it was really important for us to get the car out on track to try to work out some of the bugs. That would have happened to us at Thompson if we didn’t run that race at Caraway. I think we put right around 100 laps on the car during the Thompson test and now it’s all about focusing on the setup and finding out what the car will want on a longer run and what it will need after a pit stop. The car reacted how we hoped it would and we’re heading into the start of the season with more confidence than we had at the start of last year.”
Coby has 2 career NAPA Spring Sizzler victories with wins in the 2006 and 2012 editions of “The Greatest Race in the History of Spring.” Coby’s shakedown runs of the new chassis and engine combination have him feeling confident about his chances of adding a third Sizzler trophy to his resume.
“I think the car setup will be pretty similar to what we had in our Troyer car for Stafford,” said Coby. “We’ll know around lap-150 how we’re doing. I’ve had plenty of awesome runs at Stafford and I’ve had some races where we haven’t been that good. We’re coming out for the Sizzler this year with what will hopefully will be a good piece that can contend for pole position and stay up front for the entire race.”
In order to keep the car up front for the entire 200-lap distance, Coby will need to have a good qualifying effort. With the competition so close on the Whelen Modified Tour, Coby says that a good qualifying effort will go a long way toward helping the #2 team have a good finish.
Especially at Stafford, qualifying is always important because most of the top-15 or top-20 is separated by only a couple tenths of a second. There’s usually a couple of guys that are a step ahead of everyone in qualifying and then from 3rd or 4th down through about 17th you’re either on the right side of the fence or the wrong side. I’ve had plenty of times where I thought I’d have a great run and start 5th or 6th and I ended up about 14th or 15th. It’s going to be competitive for sure and when you go to a track like Stafford where everyone has such a good notebook, combined with good drivers and crew chiefs making good decisions, that’s why the field is always so close.”
Coby and the #2 team will begin their quest for NAPA Spring Sizzler victory with practice and Coors Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday, April 25th as part of the 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler. The 200-lap NAPA Spring Sizzler will run on Sunday, April 26 at approximately 3:15pm following the NAPA Pit Party from 11am-12noon and the SK Modified® and Late Model feature events beginning at 1pm. Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $38.50 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $42.00 for all ages. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available. All tickets are good for both Saturday and Sunday admission. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax.
For more information on the 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler, or to order tickets, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.