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LOUDON, N.H. – The Coby isn’t letting the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship go without a fight.
The reigning champion from Milford, Conn., edged Ted Christopher by .153-seconds to capture Saturday’s Town Fair Tire 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It was the eighth career win for Coby but the first since last September, also at New Hampshire.
The win comes two weeks after Coby missed the race at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway due to a wreck in qualifying and dropped to fifth in points entering the New Hampshire race. Saturday, though, Coby started 15th and worked his way to the front. He drove the No. 52 Furnace & Duct Supply/Seekonk Grand Prix Chevrolet past Ryan Preece for the final time with four laps to go en route to the win.
“It’s really neat to be in Victory Lane here,” Coby said. “I said it last time in [last] September, I’ve been close a lot of times. I’ve really studied the draft, and I’ve really studied Modifieds here. I’ve watched a lot of video of races where I’ve missed an opportunity to finish in the top five or a win or something.”
After having never reached Victory Lane in his first 18 career starts at the “Magic Mile,” Coby has celebrated there two times in a row.
“It’s not going to happen all of the time, but I feel like I have a great understanding of where I need to be positioned at the end of a race, and it’s just a matter of whether I can get there,” Coby said.
The bad news for Coby and the rest of the title contenders is that points leader Preece finished third. While Preece had his three-race win streak snapped, he still added to his lead as his three nearest challengers all had issues and finished outside the top 10. Rowan Pennink (15th), Mike Stefanik (22nd) and Justin Bonsignore (32nd).
Preece leads Pennink by 44 points and Coby by 48 after six races.
NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour regular Andy Seuss finished fourth and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman was fifth.
Woody Pitkat finished sixth, followed by Eric Berndt, Chuck Hossfeld, Richie Pallai Jr. and Jamie Tomaino.
There were 27 official lead changes – recorded at the start/finish line – the most since 2006. As is often is the case, however, there were multiple swaps for the lead within a single lap, especially between Christopher and Pennink in the first half of the race. Christopher led a race-high 49 laps.
“Just came up a little short,” Christopher said. “I really want to thank the guys, [it’s] the first time I really probably had a car that was capable of a win here in a bunch of years.”
Preece was one of three cars that experienced engine issues in practice on Friday morning, but the swap of power plants didn’t prove to be detrimental for the points leader on Saturday as he extended his career-best streak of top-10 finishes to 12 races. The third-place result tied for Preece’s best finish in 14 career races in Loudon, recorded three times previously.
“Anytime you have a day where you can bring a car in a trailer and run up front and lead laps, it’s a good day,” Preece said.
Preece followed his podium finish in the Town Fair Tire 100 with a 24th-place result the CNBC Prime’s “The Profit 200” in his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut.
Jimmy Blewett won the Coors Light Pole Award in Friday’s qualifying, however he had to start from the back after he wrecked on his second qualifying lap. At one point Saturday he had worked his way inside the top 10, but finished 21st.
The Town Fair Tire 100 was broadcast on SPEED, the first of three tour races that will air live this season.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to the track Saturday, July 27 with the Town Fair Tire Whitcomb 200 at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. The race is a makeup date for a rain out on May 11.
Doug Coby (52) takes the checkered flag Saturday for his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of the season and second straight overall at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Getty Images