When people look back on the 2019 season at Doug Coby‘s championship run, they’ll see the Bud: King of Beers 150 at Thompson as the point where Coby established his dominance on the season.
Oh, Coby won’t tell you it’s over. No champion ever does. There’s still another five races yet to be run.
The five-time champion put on another clinic Wednesday night, starting on pole, leading the most laps, and getting to Victory Lane.
And after the near-misses Coby had over the previous two races at Loudon and Seekonk, where his point lead dropped after Ron Silk won both events, the Thompson victory for Coby was a massive, massive statement that the road to the championship runs squarely through him.
It was yet another race where he led, something he’s done in all but one race this year, let the most laps, which he’s done six times in 2019, and won the pole, giving him seven for the season.
This one didn’t quite go as smoothly as others, however. With 15 laps to go, it appeared that Coby would once again have to settle for less than a victory, as the car didn’t quite appear to have the speed that it had dominated the opening portion of the race with.
But on Wednesday night, the luck turned around for Coby. Leader Bobby Santos’ transmission went on a late-race restart, allowing Coby to assume the lead after restarting in fourth, a lead he would not relinquish the rest of the race.
“It worked in our favor,” Coby said of the late-race chaos. “I’m always gonna complain when it doesn’t work in my favor, because the last couple, there were reasons for that. Tonight, this wasn’t a rule that worked in our favor, it was all of us going for it.”
Justin Bonsignore, who finished second to Coby, knows exactly the type of season Coby is having. After all, it was a dream campaign by Bonsignore that vaulted him to a championship last year.
“Doug’s got that really good luck going like we had last year, where as long as you put yourself in that position, good things are going to happen for you,” runner-up Bonsignore said.
Not only did Coby earn maximum points, his closest competitor in the standings, Silk, suffered damage that relegated him to 19th. Coby’s point lead is now a full race and change, up to 47, the biggest it’s ever been.
Coby may turn 40 on Sunday, but his age hasn’t showed up yet. Last year’s champion Bonsignore went on a run of dominance that has rarely, if ever, been seen on the Whelen Modified Tour. Coby has been just as unstoppable this season, having already led more laps this year than Bonsignore did in all of 2018. Coby’s average finish of 3.6 in 2019 isn’t far off from Bonsignore’s average of 3.4 either. That average finish would go as the lowest Coby’s ever had in a full season on the Tour. The run has been nothing short of astounding.
The goal for Coby down the stretch is to stay in front of both Silk and Bonsignore, who are now tied for second in points.
“Just in front of the 85 and the 51 is a good night for us,” Coby said. “As long as one of them doesn’t win… Still a long way to go. Really, Riverhead and the Musket 250 are big wildcards. Justin has Riverhead in his grasp, so we have to make sure to go there with a car that can try to win. We just gotta perform from here on out.”
Should Doug Coby continue to perform the way he has so far this season, he’ll be celebrating a sixth Whelen Modified Tour championship before long.