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STAFFORD, Conn. – Doug Coby captured the checkered flag in the CARQUEST 150 in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour action on Saturday night at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Coby of Milford, Conn., took the lead from pole sitter Bobby Santos on Lap 27 and never looked back en route to his second win of the season. Those two victories have come in the last three tour events after he claimed his first 2013 triumph on July 13 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. It was the ninth career win for the defending tour champion and fifth at Stafford.
Donny Lia crossed the line 1.626 seconds behind Coby in second followed by Ted Christopher in third. Santos finished fourth while Ron Silk rounded out the top five. Eric Goodale, Woody Pitkat, Mike Stefanik, Cole Powell and Ron Yuhas Jr. completed the top 10.
Coby dominated at Stafford a season ago by winning three times, but had not experienced the same success this season. This was the first race in three trips to the half-mile track this year that his No. 52 Furnace & Duct Supply/Seekonk Grand Prix Chevrolet had led laps.
After five cautions – including two red flags – in the first one-third of the race, the final 98 circuits were contested under green flag conditions. While the long run saw plenty of competition amongst the rest of the top five, Coby was able to check out on the field, with the only challenges coming from navigating lap traffic.
By the time the checkered flag dropped, Coby had lapped all but six of the other 25 cars in the race, and at one point late in the event his lead had ballooned to four seconds.
“My guys just showed tonight why the 52 was the championship team last year,” Coby said. “What a great car – probably the best tour car you could hope for at this race track. It was so good at the end that I was just riding around.”
A three-time winner at Stafford during his career, Lia’s runner-up finish was his No. 4 Circle Track Magazine Dodge’s best result of the season. Although he was able to keep Coby in his sights, especially through heavy lap traffic, Lia was never able to challenge for the lead following the last caution restart on Lap 54.
“Doug had a great car tonight, and even with a [potential late race] caution I don’t know what we could have done with him,” Lia said. “With that being said, I think us and the 52 were a good bit better than the rest of the field anyway. It would have been fun, but we’ll take second right now.”
After running in the top five the majority of the night, season points leader Ryan Preece spun while coming to the White Flag and settled for a 16th-place finish. He still holds a 25-point lead over Coby, who overtook second from Rowan Pennink. Preece carried a 42-point advantage over Pennink into the event. Pennink, who finished 13th, fell to the third spot – 39 points behind the leader.
Coby, the reigning Whelen Modified Tour champion, ranked fifth in the standings and was 53 points out just three races ago, but with two wins and a second-place since, he’s now back squarely in the hunt to defend his title.
Preece had finished in the top five in each of the first seven races during the season’s first half. Prior to the late-race cut tire that sent him spinning into the grass inside Turn 4 and two laps down when the checkered flag flew, he was also the only driver that had completed every lap on the year.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour hits the track next on Thursday, Aug. 15 for the Budweiser King of Beers 150 at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway.
Doug Coby en route to victory in the CARQUEST 150 at Stafford. Jim Rogash/Getty Images for NASCAR