Whelen Modified, K&N East Drivers Take Different Path To Wins
LOUDON, N.H. – Someone offered to hold Doug Coby's trophy when he hit the infield media center for the post-race press conference on Saturday afternoon, but Coby was having none of it.
“I'm not letting this thing go,” Coby said.
Coby's victory in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 was one half of a day at New Hampshire Motor Speedway that saw two drivers win their first career races at The Magic Mile. For Coby, he got some much needed breathing room at the top of the Whelen Modified Tour standings and grabbed a win he'd been chasing in one form or another for years.
For Kyle Larson, his New Hampshire victory came in his very first start at the 1.058-mile oval. Larson not only picked up his second win of his rookie season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, but he also was able to gain some ground on Brett Moffitt in the overall series standings.
Two drivers on Saturday with two very different stories united by one thing – a win at the largest track either series visits annually.
“We won the big race,” said Coby, whose previous best career New Hampshire Motor Speedway finish was third in July. “I didn't want to go all year just winning at the Connecticut tracks. All my Tour wins have come at Stafford, Thompson and Waterford.
“To come to this stage on TV, it's a really unbelievable feeling.”
Larson, too, was understandably excited about his victory, too. And the man who was the first to greet Larson when he pulled his Rev Racing Toyota into Victory Lane?
None other than two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart.
Stewart not only wanted to congratulate Larson, who like Stewart shares an open-wheel background in the midwest, but also to make sure the young driver had enough left in the tank to compete in a sprint car race at his own Eldora Speedway Saturday night.
“It took five or six laps for the tires to really come in so I could roll around the bottom (of the corners) better,” said Larson, who also won at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Ga., this season. “Luckily, we had enough for the win and made up some more points on Brett Moffitt.”
Unofficially, Larson closed to just three points behind Moffitt with three races remaining in the 2012 season.
Larson's victory came following a near replay of the last K&N Pro Series East race at Iowa Speedway in August.
In that race, Corey LaJoie again checked out on the field in the middle stages of the race as Larson started to reel him in. And, like in that race, they made contact on a couple of different occasions as they battled for the lanes that best suited their cars.
But unlike at Iowa, Larson had enough to hold off LaJoie – using the outside groove this time around instead of the low one he tried at Iowa.
“He got loose underneath me and I got by him,” Larson said. “The last two restarts, I just had to make sure I didn't spin my tires. I did one time, and Darrell almost got by both of us.
“Luckily, he didn't have enough speed to beat me to the line. Thankfully, he raced me clean. We rubbed fenders a couple of times, but nothing like some other drivers out there.”
For Doug Coby, a veteran of now of 19 career races with seven different teams, winning at New Hampshire was about more than points – despite extending his lead unofficially to 21 points over Ryan Preece.
It was about a New England short-track veteran – of Modifieds, Pro Stocks and Late Models – finally stepping out of his comfort zone and winning on a speedway. It was his fifth win of the season and first at New Hampshire.
Coby, of Milford, Conn., was so far out in front of Ron Silk and Donny Lia on the final lap, he surely wondered if he was dreaming.
“I've had a few bad weeks, and I've told everyone that we don't quit, we don't give up. I told everybody, my plan was run up front, because that's what this car does,” Coby said. “That thing was awesome.
“Ron (Silk) is kind of the master of last-lap passes here, and I didn't want to be his next victim… My mission the last two laps was just to break the draft and make them weave like a snake down the straightaway and look like a bunch of idiots. That's what you have to do here to stop those guys.”
All his pre-race and in-race planning went right out the window once the field went back to green on a green-white-checkered restart.
“I never really had to put it into play,” Coby said. “I was going to drive like a big jerk and make sure I held the lead.”
The only thing he had to hold onto, like Larson, was his first career New Hampshire Motor Speedway trophy in Victory Lane – something neither will have to give back.
Sources: Travis Barrett, Special To NASCAR Home Tracks