Driver Doug Coby just wants to have fun
Article Published by: greenwichtime.cmo
Doug Coby, who grew up in Milford and graduated from Law High in 1997, his goal as a professional race car driver has always been to have fun.
And he’s been having a lot of fun the past three years in the NASCAR Whelen Modifed Tour, an open-wheeled stock car division which tours tracks throughout the Northeast.
In the world of auto racing, consistency is the name of the game. If you are consistent, especially with top-five or top-10 finishes, it usually translates into a high ranking in the point standings with a few wins here and there.
Coby, who currently resides in Wethersfield, has been a model of consistency. He won the Whelen Modified Tour points championship in 2012 and came in second in 2013. In eight races this season, he has eight top 10 finishes with a win on June 6 at Stafford Speedway, a track that has been quite kind to Coby over the years.
On Friday at Stafford Speedway, he ended up fourth in the Whelen Modified Tour 150 and continues to lead in the Whelen Modified Tour point standings with 325 points. Right behind is Justin Bonsignore with 317, Bobby Santos with 310 and Ted Christopher is fourth with 309.
“For most guys out there, winning is their goal and winning drives them,” said Coby, whose family still ives in Milford. “But for me having fun comes before winning. My entire career it’s been all about having fun. Sure, everyone wants to win but you need to enjoy what you’re doing, you need to enjoy the entire process from prepping your car to crossing that finish line.”
Entering this season, Coby changed race teams, going from the Wayne Darling Race Team to the Mike Smeriglio III Race Team. Darling planned on only racing part time this season. Smeriglio had a driver opening, asked Coby to fill the spot and the guarantee of racing full time was too good to pass up for Coby.
“You never know what will happen when you change race teams and there is a certain amount of pressure to be successful,” said Coby, who had five car owners in 2010. “The Wayne Darling Team was successful and they have a great team. But Wayne Darling was considering running part time and Mike Smeriglio was committed to racing full time.
“It’s not comfortable knowing from year to year if you’re going to run full time. That stability (with Smerglia) was important to me. Our race team is committed to doing everything necessary to be successful. A big reason I’m leading in points is before each race the car has exceptional prep going into it to make it great.”
The race season couldn’t have started any better for Coby who won an exhibition race at Daytona. When the team went to Thompson Speedway for the next race, that’s when Mike Smeriglio Racing crew chief and team manager Phil Moran knew this could be a special season.
“Doug’s transition to our race team was never a concern because we knew Doug, we’ve seen him race and we knew what he was capable of on the track,” Moran said at Stafford on Friday. “In that first race, the car practiced great, it looked great and it raced great with Doug behind the wheel.
“But when the car ran well at Thompson, that’s when I knew this would be a good season. Doug has always been a smooth driver and he always puts himself in position to capitalize on what happens during a race. Doug is a good driver and his record speaks for its.”
One place Coby has had exceptional success is Stafford Speedway. He has 18 career wins at Stafford (all divisions combined). On Friday in the Call Before You Dig 811 Whelen Modified Tour 150, by finishing fourth it solidified his hold onto first place in the Whelen Modified Tour standings.
“I know Stafford really well and I’ve been lucky there the last couple of years,” Coby said. “But it’s a tough track to explain. Guys come up to me ask me to give them advice and I can’t. I tell them it’s more of an experience thing and you just have to have a feel for it.”
While fun over winning is an unusual priority for a race car driver, Coby said his main goal going into each season is finishing in the top 10 in all 14 races.
“If you compete well enough to have a chance to finish in the top 10 in all your races, the wins will come,” Coby said. “Another thing is if you have a bad day on the track and your bad day ends up with a top-10 placing, it’s great.”
Coby also competes in the SK Modified division at Stafford Speedway and is in ninth place in the point standings. But the Whelen Modified Tour has been a good fit for Coby and he is happy competing in the division. He has no plans to go beyond that race division and his focus is to finish strong this season.
“Right now I’m happy competing in the Whelen Modified Tour and don’t see myself going beyond that division,” Coby said. “I’m focused on these next races and they won’t be easy with guys like Bonsignore, Santos and Christopher right behind me.
“All it will take is one bad race to take one or two of us out of the running for the points championship. We’re all running so well all four of us could finish in a dead heat. But the bottom line for me is I know with the great crew we have my car will always be well prepared.”
The next Whelen Modified Tour race will be the Whelen Modified Tour Budweiser 150 on Wednesday (Aug. 13) at Thompson Speedway. One plus for Coby is the Whelen Modified Tour returns to his favorite track on Sept. 28 for its 13th event of the season in the 42nd annual NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend at Stafford Speedway.
About Michael Smeriglio Racing Corp.
The Michael Smeriglio Racing Corp., MSIII Racing, has won the Nascar Whelen Modified Tour Championship three years running. Along with his driver, Doug Coby and crew chief, Phil Moran they are creating a dynasty in short track racing on the east coast.