THOMPSON, Conn. (WWLP) – Doug Coby won the pole, the race, and his third NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Championship in Sunday’s Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing presented by XtraMart at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Coby led nearly 100 of the 150 laps. He has now won all four NWMT races at Thompson this season. Previously only Mike Stefanik in 1998 and Steve Park in 1996 had recorded a season sweep at Thompson.
After the race Coby told 22News, “We just had a really good car at every track we went to and it was just every race was battle, battle, battle and try to be fast out of the box and it’s just Phil (Moran) and the guys putting good cars together. Pretty neat to sweep everything here.” Coby talked of how good his car really was on Sunday, as he told 22News, “Up until the pit stop it was perfect. I had no concerns about anything about where I needed to be on the racetrack. No concerns about restarts. After the pit stop it was pretty good. I think the track changed the last 30-40 laps and it threw me a little curve ball because the track had a lot of grip up top through the whole race and it seemed like the harder Justin (Bonsignore) and I race. The grip up top kind of went away a little bit. Just found some grip on the bottom and that’s why I was able to go by him (Bonsignore).”
Coby was tied with Ryan Preece for the points lead going into the final race. Preece finished seventh after starting fifth. He told 22News, “We kind of struggled, I guess. We thought we had a handle on our struggles this year. Just couldn’t get it where we needed it. We tried we worked hard. We ended up a little short so second in points which I believe is where we’re at.” Woody Pitkat had a shot at the championship as well, trailing the leaders by just four points before Sunday’s finale. Pitkat finished fifth after an early caution and penalty that had him a lap down. Pitkat told 22News, “We had a great year, great weekend. We just had a bad day today. That’s the racing game a lot of it is luck. Unfortunately, it wasn’t our day. We had a really good car. I think we might have had something. We restarted 14th. Got into second. Felt like maybe we were going to have something for Doug there to get in front of him and lead some laps early. Had a tire going down. Unfortunately, did the best I could with the tire going down and then got run over from behind a little bit and got into the fence. I guess they think I caused the caution, blatantly caused the caution, but definitely it’s a tough situation. Just a bad day but a great year. Like I said the 6 team and the 2 team are established teams on the tour that have been here for a while. Buzz (Chew) hasn’t been on the tour for a long period of time. For me to be here and do what we have done and be able to run with these guys. It just shows you how good this team is.” Justin Bonsignore finished second, Timmy Solomito was third, and Todd Szegedy took fourth. Coby becomes the third driver in NWMT history to win three or more championships.
Pitkat did leave Thompson with two World Series weekend championships even if the third eluded him. On Sunday, Pitkat was crowned Thompson’s Sunoco Modified Series champ. Pitkat finshed second to Ryan Preece in the 30-lap feature that determined who would earn the series’ title. On Saturday, Pitkat became the Valenti Modified Racing Series champion, after a second place finish in the 50-lap feature that was won by Keith Rocco. Pitkat started from the pole and entered the race with a seven point lead over Chris Pasteryak, who finished fifth in the race. Woody won the title despite missing one race because of a conflict with his NWMT schedule. He told 22News, “That’s what we needed to going into Lee. He (Chris) had such a bad start to the season and we had such a good start to the season and then halfway through the year. We kind of struggled and he had a really good year. It kind of started to level out. When I had to miss that race to go to Riverhead with the tour. I figured, ‘Ok, it won’t be so bad. Maybe he will have a fifth, sixth place finish and it won’t be so bad’ and he goes there and wins, and then at Stafford he beat us and then I thought we were pretty much out of it. We had a couple weeks off and we knew we had to go to Lee on our A game because we knew how good he was there. We went in there and had a really good day and unfortunately he had a bad day and that set us up well for the final race.” This is Pitkat’s first VMRS title. Preece also found little consolation in winning the Sunoco Modified race and then failing to capture another NWMT crown. He told 22News, “I think I would trade 20 SK wins here for a championship.”
Brian Hoar won the race and Wayne Helliwell, Jr. secured the championship in the American-Canadian Tour World Series 100 Saturday at Thompson. It was Helliwell’s third ACT championship in four years. Leading the race proved ultimately unkind for three drivers. Early leader Joey Polewarczyk saw his night end in a late race crash. Smoke and flames curtailed a promising race for Eddie MacDonald. Dillon Moltz crashed on the front straight during a restart with eight laps to go. Tom Carey of New Salem also met with misfortune and the front stretch wall.
Joe Arena is now the first North East Street Stock Champion. Arena finished second to race winner Ed Puleo. Arena began the day third in points. The focus of the championship battle was on Geoff Rollins and Chris Douton, who both lost positions due to on-track incidents. Arena used to race at the former Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam and this is the first championship of his career.
Thompson was prepared for any weekend wetness as they had an Air Titan 2.0 at the track. With the exception of early Friday the weekend was dry overall. Cold and some occasional Sunday snow flurries certainly generated more attention.