Don’t count Doug Coby out of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship picture just yet.
Whatever championship consequence the six-time champion created for himself was worth what he accomplished on Saturday night in winning the inaugural Superstar Racing Experience event at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Coby entered the weekend just five points behind Patrick Emerling for the championship and has very much looked like a threat to match the legendary Mike Stefanik with seven during the Tour era. In missing the race at Oswego Speedway on Saturday, he fell to eighth and 47 points behind Emerling.
At 41-years-old, Coby feels like he has enough time to match or surpass Stefanik, even if it doesn’t happen this year. But who is to say that it can’t happen with nine races remaining?
“We are in a little bit of a hole,” Coby told Short Track Scene during an SRX video conference on Wednesday. “But the important thing to remember is the owner points. That’s how they pay our purse fund.”
Coby was quick to point out the 2017 season when Ryan Preece missed two races and contended throughout the final races. His team, Ed Partridge Racing actually captured the owner’s championship that season with Preece, George Brunnhoelzl III and Jon McKennedy behind the wheel.
Chase Dowling finished eighth driving for Coby on Saturday at Oswego.
“For me as a car owner, the owner’s championship is our primary goal and we’re only a couple of points out,” Coby said. “So, if we can do that, and a guy like my buddy Justin Bonsignore ends up winning the drivers’ championship, I’d be okay with that.”
Meanwhile, Coby’s SRX triumph wasn’t about making some kind of personal statement. He isn’t expecting a phone call from Roger Penske or Rick Hendrick this week because he beat 50-year-old Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle. Yet, he also said he wouldn’t be able to show his face at Riverhead Raceway on Saturday if he looked foolish on the national stage.
“It means I can show my face on Saturday,” Coby said with a hearty laugh. “I won’t have to hide from anyone out of embarrassment. But seriously, Stafford is such a hard place to get around and it worked in my favor that I have so many laps there.”
Beyond that, Coby has spent so much of this past decade working to establish short track racing as something to aspire to beyond the perceived status that it’s a minor league or driver development platform. In defeating 11 legendary motorsport personalities, Coby hopes he elevated his discipline, even if only a little.
“I’ve got a big mouth and I talk about short track racing a lot on social media,” Coby said. “I kind of felt like if I’m going to run my mouth, I had to make this decision to back it up and be there to represent short track modified racing. It was a no-brainer to me. Opportunities like this one don’t come around often for someone my age.”
And again, Coby hasn’t given up on the NASCAR Modified Tour driver’s championship yet, even if he’s issued everyone else a head start.
“I’ve come from much deeper back, so maybe we can make it interesting with some good finishes,” Coby said. “If those guys have problems, it’s still early enough in the season that we can scratch and claw our way back. We’re capable of making some noise. As far as I’m concerned, it just makes our season a lot more interesting.”