THOMPSON, Conn. (WWLP) – Doug Coby gave race fans a virtual instant replay from April’s Icebreaker, once again having the dominate car to easily win Wednesday’s Mr. Rooter 125 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Thompson, Connecticut. Coby started from the outside pole and led all but the first lap. In victory lane Coby told the fans, “It certainly wasn’t as easy as the Icebreaker. So loose out there, everybody was sliding around and we were as well. But we were just a little better than everybody.”
The winner was dogged by pole sitter Woody Pitkat until the first caution of the race at lap 82. The leaders pitted at lap 84 and Coby was awarded the lead as he and Pitkat came off pit road in a dead heat. Coby’s #2 Chevrolet drove away from his competition on the only two restarts, winning by 10 car lengths. Justin Bonsignore turned in his best performance of the season finishing second. Todd Szegedy qualified 20th but had to start from the rear of the field for an unapproved adjustment after qualifying, and came in third. Keith Rocco came in fourth with Pitkat fifth. Coby picked-up his 12th career win, and ended the two-race winning streak of point leader Ryan Preece. Preece qualified 12th but also started at the back of the pack because of an unapproved adjustment after qualifying. On lap 72, Preece was passed by leader Coby and second-place Pitkat. Despite going a lap down Preece finished seventh on the lead lap. Ryan retained his point lead by five points over Pitkat and six points over Coby.
After the race, Coby explained that the condition of the track played a huge role in the quality of the competition. “I was talking to Timmy Solomito at the autograph session, and I said if the track had good grip tonight, it was going to be a wreck-fest. And the track didn’t have good grip tonight. When the track loses grip, you lose a little bit of your courage out there. You’re just trying to make your car not spin out, so trying to race with somebody isn’t even really an option. So that’s what happened tonight, worse than I’ve ever experienced here. I’ve been coming here since 2003 with the tour. Just totally different, if the track had massive grip on the outside it would have been a wreck-fest.”
While Ryan Preece has been off to a strong start, so has the driver of the #88 Buzz Chew Chevrolet, 35 year old Woody Pitkat of Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Pitkat’s five NWMT race performance includes a win, two seconds, and two fifth place finishes. Pitkat told 22News, “We’ve been really good. We got together last year. We had a couple of bad ones throughout the year. We just worked together and just tried to learn these tracks and what we needed. We’ve come out of the gate really good. Ryan Preece has been really good too. So we’re just trying to keep up with him. We’re just worrying about ourselves. We’re not worrying about anybody else or what they’re doing. We’re just doing our own thing.” Pitkat said there’s very little they’d want to do over in those early season events. “There’s a couple things. I got a flat at Waterford. It could have been a what if. If I didn’t get that flat could we have contended for the win there at the end , or could we have been in another accident. It’s been great, it’s been super. We’ve been trying to click off those top fives and try to contend for a win if we can. “And to clarify, while Woody sounds like a nickname, Pitkat says that’s really his name. “I’m just Woody. If I was Woodrow, I’d be a junior. My dad is Woodrow and he actually is junior. But I’m just Woody. So there’s no junior, there’s no twin, it’s just Woody!”
There are 15 points races on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. With five completed, the season is now one third over. So which races could help win a championship or instead finish a team’s hopes? Pitkat told 22News, “Riverhead is probably a pretty good one to be an up or down. Ryan Preece has run there weekly before, he’s had success there. He could have a little bit of an advantage on us at that place. I ran very well there too in the past with the Hillbilly car. In 2013 my 2 best finishes of the season were at Riverhead. We’re really good at Loudon. I’m excited to go to Loudon. I’m excited to go back to Bristol. I feel I kind of screwed up at Bristol so I know what not to do. Riverhead could be a maker or breaker I would say.” The Mr. Rooter 125 wrapped up a mini marathon for the NWMT of three races in 12 days. All of the first five races have been at Connecticut tracks. A scheduled test on Friday for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour cars on the Thompson road course has been cancelled.
Scott Quinn won the Vintage Outlaws feature, Rick Gentes drove to victory lane in the Late Model race, Ryan Waterman took the checkered flag in the Limited Sportsman event, not even a penalty that sent him to the rear of the field could keep Ryan Preece from eventually winning the Sunoco Modified race, and Eric Bourgeois took the trophy in the Mini Stocks.