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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


New Hampshire Motor Speedway
by Polly Reid

It came down to the last lap, last corner, right to the line- Doug Coby of Milford, CT in the Mike Smeriglio III owned, Dunleavy Repair/A&J Romano sponsored Chevrolet secured the coveted win edging out Donny Lia at the stripe for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour New England 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway win.

Coby and Lia had race fans on their feet as they took the white flag, Coby leading, Lia on his bumper as they came around turn four. Lia pulled out high but came up short by inches as Coby captured his twentieth career NWMT win, his fourth victory at NHMS. The margin of victory was recorded at 0.037 seconds.

“If you’re a New England modified racer, this is what you work for your whole career, to race and win at Loudon,” said Coby. “I have four wins here now which is crazy, two have been under green and two have been under caution. To win a race here, under green, is a really special thing. This is just huge and our team has worked so hard. Our team is always trying to make our car better. Right now, our team is firing on all cylinders and that’s pretty fun. That’s what we come to do.”

“The first half, we were loose,” said Donny Lia about his Mark Sypher owned, Sypher Construction/Bardahl sponsored Chevrolet. “We made an adjustment on the stop and got back to racing, I was able to stay out front - stay with the lead draft.” Lia took the initial green flag second but after the break, started fourth. “We had a really good car, we had a car that could definitely win the race, it’s a little disappointing. When it’s all said and done, me and all these guys will think back and guess twenty different things we think we could have done different to win the race, especially when you lose by a bumper. Hats off to Doug and his guys, they’re on a tear- we’re trying figure it out, get up to them and win again.”

Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, NY took the green flag twelfth and came in for the half way break to restart sixth. Emerling moved into third on the opening circuits of the second segment and despite the pressure from the likes of Ryan Preece, Ryan Newman, Woody Pitkat and Ron Silk, Emerling held his own to bring the Buffalo Auto Auction Chevrolet across the stripe for a solid third place finish.

“We had a great car,” said Emerling about the first half of the race. “We had a good car in the second half, we were racing around fourth and fifth, then third- the lead pack got away from me, my car came to me at the end and by the time we broke out there, were already gone- once you lose the draft, you just can’t make up for it.”

Coby of Milford, CT, swapped the lead several times with Preece of Berlin, CT in the first segment of the event, Coby and Preece appeared equal and the class of the field as they stretched from the pack with as much as a nearly six second lead. Coby then led the field to green for the final segment only to watch the outside line draft ahead leaving him low and going back, the 2 car falling in line at eighth.

“So many things happened in this race,” said Coby. “Just thinking about it, it’s about being prepared with the car, then being prepared for whatever situation unfolds out on the race track. We had the best car here but, when you go back to seventh or eighth on the restart it’s just a matter of how you respond and I actually said it in my championship award speech last year, “We can’t necessarily control what happens to us but we can control how we respond. “My choice was to just settle in, see how the car would react and pick them off one at a time. I tried a couple of things that didn’t work, I’ve always said racing here in a pack of cars is knowing more about was does work than what doesn’t. I tried a couple of things and did not get anybody to help. I think if I did have someone work with me we would have gone to the front, but they didn’t, so they just got passed.”

“I think everybody raced with respect out there,” said Coby. “There were no cautions and that’s always a good thing, everybody can unload at Monadnock with whole race cars, that’s a good thing for everybody.”

“It was an excellent race and I’m real happy to come out here with a good solid day- the car with all four wheels on it and build our notebook,” continued Lia who hails from Jericho, NY. “We’re a new team. We were brand new last year and this year we’re brand new again with a new crew chief.” Lia referring to Don Barker coming on board as crew chief for the Sypher Construction/Bardahl sponsored Chevrolet. “We’re starting from scratch and to run with the #2 car, it says a lot for us, we’re making big gains quickly, it just seems like we aren’t because it’s been a completely new deal each year. It’s a big day for us and something I’m proud of.”

Coby, Lia and Emerling the podium finish, pole winner Ron Silk crossed fourth, Ryan Newman fifth with Woody Pitkat, Justin Bonsignore, Eric Goodale the top nine. Todd Szegedy who started scratch in the field of 33 cars brought the 15-40 Connection Chevrolet over the line for tenth.

It was a tough point’s day for Max Zachem who went into the New England 100 second in the standings. Diving down pit row just prior to the green, Zachem was forced to retire for the day with less than twenty laps on the board, officially listed as rear end the reason for being out. The thirty-second place finish drops Zachem to fifth in points but with ten events remaining on the NWMT schedule, Zachem has the opportunity to recover and gain back ground lost. Coby continues to carry the point lead at 290, Donny Lia takes over second with 258, Justin Bonsignore with 252, Tommy Solomito at 246 and Zachem with 237.

Next up for the NWMT is a trip to Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH – the quarter-mile high banked speedway will host the Monadnock 200 on Saturday July 23rd.
Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
: July 17 2016

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