In the return to White Mountain, Doug Coby showed he’s all the way back, Justin Bonsignore won’t sweep the season, and there’s plenty of new faces contending for wins — and to climb into the championship picture.
It took just three races for Coby, a six-time championship driver, to find Victory Lane on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. That should worry anybody who was looking to dethrone the Milford, Connecticut, driver.
Here is what we learned from the White Mountain Showdown 200 at White Mountain Motorsports Park.
New owner, who’s this?
Coby’s demise have have been greatly exaggerated, after all, he finished seventh and third in the first two races after the delayed start to the season. However, for a driver won won 18 of 75 races (24%) from the beginning of 2015 through August of last year, the seven races since that last win at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park seemed particularly revelatory.
After all, the had just three top fives in those seven starts, and led laps in only two of them. Especially when matched up with his primary challenger in Bonsignore, who won five times and had a second and a fifth in that span, and led 484 laps.
Throw in an offseason in which Coby parted ways with his long-time car owner, and ended up as a driver/owner heading into 2020.
Then came Saturday.
And Coby parked the No. 10 Mayhew Tools in Victory Lane.
— NASCAR Roots (@NASCARRoots) August 2, 2020
“It was a tough offseason,” said Coby, “winning a championship and coming back and trying to put a new team together.
“Had a lot of people step up and make this a reality, and bring the number 2 team over to the number 10 team. You guys think it’s hard to drive these cars. Try owning them and driving them, and trying to make it all work.”
In Victory Lane, Coby thanked his sponsors who stuck by him during the transition. He said Mayhew Tools was the first to say they’d go with him with his new team after former car owner Mike Smeriglio III announced his retirement from the sport.
“I could not be more proud of all my guys — not knowing where we’re going to be racing, and battling with this new car first time out last time here,” said Coby. “We made the right changes today, because, man, it was awesome in practice, didn’t qualify great, but it was stellar the whole race.”
Coby qualified fifth and marched his way to the front, diving under pole sitter Jon McKennedy on Lap 135 after applying the pressure for several laps before that.
— NASCAR Roots (@NASCARRoots) August 1, 2020
“This is a tough track,” said Coby. “The lane changes, the groove changes all the time. Both corners pick up rubber at a weird spot. And you just have to know the timing and figure out where your car works.
“At some point, you’ve gotta go. You think you’re trying to save tires, and at some point, you want to be the leader and make them all try to catch you.”
Bonsignore failed in his bid to become the first driver in tour history to win three straight races to start the season. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
The No. 51 Phoenix Communications Inc. Chevrolet was 15th in practice, qualified eighth and struggled early in the race.
The Holtsville, New York, driver made a late run though to salvage a fifth-place finish and maintain a nine-point lead over Coby in the championship.
“We struggled all day,” said Bonsignore. “You’ll have sometimes. Probably the first time since 2018 that’s happened to us, that’s just part of it. It shows everybody’s human; no matter how good we’ve been all year.
“All in all, the way we should have finished and the way we did, I’m really happy with it.”
The good news for Bonsignore is the tour heads back to Pennsylvania’s Jennerstown Speedway on Aug. 22, a track in which he led every lap in winning the season opener in June.
New Faces Contending
Kyle Bonsignore’s runner-up finish was his best in the 12 races he’s run since his first career win at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway at the end of 2018. It also moved him into a tie for fourth in points with Craig Lutz, 23 back of Justin Bonsignore.
“Huge massive effort just to get this car here,” said Kyle Bonsignore, who qualified 18th. “It’s first race where we were able to put it together. Worked really hard; sweated our butts off all day. It was a lot of fun. I wish we could have started a little better, I think we had something for (Coby) if we started in the top 10. We used it up getting up there.”
After power steering issues cut his day short in the first White Mountain race, Matt Swanson came back and put finished third after qualifying 13th.
Jon McKennedy qualified first, lost the lead, went around with 17 to go while battling Chris Pasteryak for second but kept it pointed in the right direction and moving, and wound up fourth at the end of the day.
Calvin Carroll, 19, finished sixth. It’s his second top 10 this season. Anthony Nocella, in his first start in the No. 82, finished eighth.