Story By: KYLE SOUZA / NASCAR – MYRTLE BEACH, SC – Doug Coby’s quest for a sixth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship couldn’t have started off much better.
After two years of struggling at Myrtle Beach Speedway, Coby make those scuffles distant memories on Saturday, rolling to his 25th career Whelen Modified Tour win and first at the South Carolina oval.
He may have made the final laps of the Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety Kleen look easy, but the day wasn’t filled with only celebratory moments. He did win the first Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole Award in qualifying, but Coby was forced to start at the tail of the field after a screw in his left-front tire forced the team to make an unapproved tire change before the green.
From there, the charge was on from the rear of a 32 car field in hopes of reaching the front. In the end, he found the top spot — a familiar place for the five-time Whelen Modified Tour champion.
“This was an interesting one,” Coby said. “Ultimately, I had the best car I have ever had here. We had to go perform, and we did. The book is going to say we won the pole, started first and finished first, but the reality is, we started 32nd and finished first. We passed a lot of cars.”
After Coby dropped to the tail, Jon McKennedy was the control car for the initial start and he did just that — took control for a majority of the first half of the event. McKennedy led a race high 64 laps, but pit strategy in the final stages didn’t quite fall his way.
After a caution on lap 110, Coby charged up inside the top three after pitting for fresh rubber, then rolled by Kyle Ebersole for the top spot on lap 122. From there, it was just about getting around some lapped traffic and minding a gap over Jon McKennedy and Jimmy Blewett.
When McKennedy and Blewett started racing for the runner-up spot, Coby opened his gap, and was never challenged. Even though the tire strategy didn’t quite work out in McKennedy’s favor, the second-place effort was a good way to follow-up a winning performance in the opener last year.
“We put two tires on and the No. 2 car put three in, but we still had a really good car,” McKennedy said. “We asked the right-front tire to go 150 laps, which is tough. They knew we were here. It was a great effort by everyone.”
In his first start with Gershow Motorsports, Blewett was third, followed by Patrick Emerling and Chris Pasteryak. The top-five run was Pasteryak’s first since 2009 in Whelen Modified Tour competition.
Anthony Nocella was sixth, followed by Burt Myers, Andy Seuss, Eric Goodale and Frank Fleming.
The Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety Kleen will air on NBCSN on Thursday, March 21 at 6 p.m.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to action in just two weeks, on Saturday, March 30, at South Boston Speedway in Virginia.