For much of the first half of the 2017 season, Doug Coby’s season was a Murphy’s Law of sorts. Everything that could go wrong did for the Milford, Connecticut native.
There was the wreck under caution on the opening circuit of the Icebreaker, dominating performances at Langley and Stafford that came up short, and a late-race spin at Loudon while fighting for the win.
Coby did not have the most wins. Nor did he have the most top-fives or top-10s.
Yet Sunday, after a red-hot run throughout the latter half of the year, Coby found himself holding the Whelen Modified Tour championship trophy for an unprecedented fourth consecutive season and fifth time in his career.
August, September, and October saw Coby rack up eight top-five finishes in the final nine events, capped off with his only victory of the season at Seekonk on August 26th.
“We’re fast every week,” said Coby. “Ryan [Preece], I think, was exceptional this year, when he raced. Timmy [Solomito] had the up-and-down stuff, which kind of hurt him.”
“We just seemed to be kind of plugged away this year… After Thompson [in April], any finish that we had outside the top-four was pretty much as a result of somebody clobbering us when we were running in the top-four.”
Fittingly, for all the bad luck Coby suffered through during the first half of 2017, two incredible strokes of good luck swung in Coby’s favor during the season finale at Thompson.
Needing to finish ninth to wrap up the title, Coby simply had to stay out of trouble.
On lap 87, Fall Final winner Eric Goodale spun on the frontstretch, directly in front of Coby who, by the slimmest of margins, snuck past the spinning No. 58.
Then, with less than ten laps remaining, Woody Pitkat and Justin Bonsignore spun while racing for position, again in the path of Coby. That skermish, however, was an obstacle well within Coby’s control.
“I felt like I was in control of where I was,” said the now five-time champion. “I didn’t feel like they were clobbering me. It was just a matter of if they came up the track and, maybe I was the unlucky guy that got hit.”
With five championships under his belt, Coby has established himself as one of the all-time greats to ever get behind the wheel of a modified. He now ranks seventh on the all-time wins list with 23 triumphs, and is tied with Tony Hirschman for the second-most championships of any Tour driver.
But don’t compare Doug Coby to legends like Evans, Stefanik, Hirschman, Ruggiero, or Christopher.
“I’d rather be racing against them,” said Coby. “I raced a lot against Tony and Mike, and I learned from them, and they learned from Richie Evans.”
“You can only race against who you race against now… When I’m retired, somebody else is going to come along and win all these championships, and people are going to try to compare him to our era.”
The five championships have come quickly for Doug Coby. And he shows no signs of slowing down.
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