Neither Ryan Preece nor Doug Coby won the Thompson 125 on Thursday night but they were ‘the show’ if nothing else.
Coby led from the pole early, but Preece caught him from 10th on Lap 38, but just couldn’t complete the pass. Preece could get an impressive run off Turn 4, but just couldn’t finish in Turns 1 and 2. That continued until the two champions reached lap traffic, cutting in and out, and largely staying nose-to-tail.
Ultimately, they finished third and fourth, but they were the focal point for much of the night.
“Short track racing, man,” Preece told Short Track Scene. “When racing is tire-to-tire, it’s a lot of fun. I love it. I love this atmosphere and passion and it’s cool to be able to be a part of this. It’s just cool to be able to be a part of that and it’s what we all grow up wanting to do.
“His car was good where mine wasn’t and my car was good where his’ wasn’t. And the way the bottom is here, with the gear you run, it’s super tough to run off the bottom. We were making it work. We were rolling off the center well. I just couldn’t complete it. I wasn’t going to slam him to get by.”
Even more remarkable is that neither driver was holding back. They both were betting on a caution.
“I was going hard because I knew they were going off,” Coby said. “With the way the car was handling, I needed them to wear out. I was so tight all day, I figured if I went all-out, I would be better over the final 20. I just knew the caution would come out. It always comes out.”
Preece believes he had a race-winning car, but just didn’t order up the right changes on the Lap 95 caution.
“We just had a slow stop and should have made an adjustment and didn’t,” Preece said. “It was too tight. If we had a 50 lap run, maybe it would have helped us, maybe it would have come back to us the way it did late in the first run. Overall, I’m happy with it. I’m happy with the baseline. And I wasn’t when the season started. Winning these races aren’t easy.”
Coby says he had a good car, just not a race-winning car, and that’s what he needed on the final restart against Justin Bonsignore.
“If he was as tight as he was in the beginning of the race, I would have blew by him,” He was better and we were kind of the same.”
— Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverAW) June 15, 2018