Coby’s Star Shines Brightest in Field of Superstars at Stafford

Sunday, Jun 13 365
Coby’s Star Shines Brightest in Field of Superstars at Stafford Stafford Speedway Photo

Doug Coby won the season-opening race of the inaugural Camping World SRX Series Saturday night at Stafford Motor Speedway and scored a win for short-track racers across the United States.

 

Coby is a six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion and winner of 30 races at Stafford, from the Modified Tour to SK Modifieds to Pro Stocks and Late Models. He earned his 31st and arguably biggest Stafford victory on a national stage, with his triumph in the Camping World SRX Series broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and streamed on Paramount+ Premium.

 

“What a special night for short-track racing in America,” said Coby, who had to fight off NASCAR veteran Greg Biffle for much of the 100-lap race around the half-mile oval. “This is a special night for Stafford Motor Speedway and everybody who is a short-track racer around the country, whether you’re dirt or asphalt.

 

“Just to have all these fans here and all these drivers – the guy who won the Indy 500 two weeks ago, NASCAR Hall of Famers, Daytona 500 champions, and here I am, Modified Tour guy and homegrown Stafford Speedway guy. It just goes to show there are a lot of good short-trackers out there. I like to think I’m one of them, but there are hundreds of others who are good at their craft and get around their speedway really good. It ain’t going to be easy for any invader, and I love that we were in equal cars.”

 

The Camping World SRX Series features world-class drivers from an array of motorsports backgrounds competing in identically prepared racecars on some of the most iconic short tracks in America. Helio Castroneves, recent winner of the Indianapolis 500 for a record-tying fourth time, was on the same stage as Coby.

 

“We weren’t in Modifieds that I drive all the time,” Coby said. “I haven’t driven a full-bodied car here in 20 years, so it was an adjustment for me. These cars were sporty and fun and the guys figured them out. The guys who were struggling earlier in practice sure figured them out in the heat races and did a great job. I’m just really pumped for everybody in the Modified community. That’s who I represent, that’s who I am and that’s who I’ll always be, so I’m just thrilled to bring it home for them.”

 

How committed was Coby to representing short-track racers in the Camping World SRX Series season opener? He skipped the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway to race at Stafford, and that meant missing a race where prior to tonight, Coby was second in the championship standings by only five points.

 

“I’ve got six Tour championships and I’m shooting for seven to tie Mike Stefanik, and if it takes one more year to tie a great like that, I’m happy to wait,” Coby said.

 

Coby finished sixth in the first heat race, and with the field inverted for the second heat race, the Milford, Connecticut-native lined up seventh in the 12-car field. In a prelude to the feature, Coby carved his way toward the front, leading the final two laps to take the win.

 

Victory in the second heat race earned Coby the pole for the feature. He led the first eight laps before three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart took the lead. Marco Andretti led laps 12-15 before Biffle took over on lap 16. Coby, meanwhile, never ran lower than third.

 

With his extensive knowledge of Stafford, Coby worked his way back to the lead, taking the top spot away from Biffle on lap 25. Biffle made Coby earn the spot, as he was never far from the back of his bumper. Biffle occasionally got his nose just to the inside of Coby’s left-rear fender and finally got around him on lap 62, but Coby’s tenacity was unmatched. Coby took the lead away from Biffle on lap 65 and held it until lap 97 when Biffle made one final charge off turn four to briefly take the lead. Coby would have none of it. He got past Biffle one final time to lead the final two laps and cross the stripe .287 of a second ahead of the 19-race winner in the NASCAR Cup Series.

 

“The only thing I screwed up tonight is my exit, and I’d do it all over again if that’s what it takes to win this race,” Coby said. “Thank you, fans.”

 

While the win was special for Coby, it was also bittersweet.

 

“I lost a very good friend of mine this week, Don King,” Coby said. “He was one of my best friends, gave me my first Modified Tour ride, and I know the whole crew was watching tonight.

 

“He’s not just my former owner, he’s one of my best friends. He has been for 20 years. We’re going to have his funeral on Monday and Tuesday and it’s going to be a tough week, but this is an opportunity to show people who believe in somebody that 20 years later they might do something good.

 

“When somebody passes who helped you in racing, you go race and you honor them with a good drive and you tell everybody all about it. I’m just happy to be able to acknowledge him.”

 

Before departing victory lane, Coby also acknowledged the opportunity afforded by the Camping World SRX Series.

 

“Before we go, I want to thank everybody at SRX for doing this,” Coby said. “These guys have busted their butts. I know the guys at the shop, I know how hard you work to get these cars together, and I really appreciate everything you’ve done. Ray Evernham, Tony Stewart, George Pyne, the Montag Group, everybody at CBS, the fans watching at home – a short-tracker won tonight, guys.”

 

For co-founder Evernham, the debut of the Camping World SRX Series was satisfying.

 

“I thought the guys raced hard. We tore up a little bit of equipment but, again, I think the fans enjoyed it and it’s all about the fans,” Evernham said. “The drivers did a great job tonight. I think we’ve got to give ourselves a pretty good mark on tonight based on the crowd reaction. I think it was a good show. It’s pretty humbling because I know how many people work behind the scenes to make this happen, from the television side, the advertising side, the guys who built the cars. It’s humbling that the greatest drivers in the world have come here to support this program and reach out and be right with the folks in grassroots racing.”

 

Stewart, who like Evernham is a co-founder of the Camping World SRX Series and a NASCAR Hall of Famer, relished Coby’s victory.

 

“That’s what this is supposed to be all about,” said Stewart, who finished the race in third. “The whole concept about this was to have fun and to celebrate motorsports, and I think this was a perfect example of that tonight. Let’s go five more weeks and do the same thing at five more tracks.

 

“This is a very aggressive six-week stretch. To be in Connecticut tonight, then to be in Iowa next week on dirt, and to go back and forth like we are for six straight weeks and having to maintain these cars and get loaded up and travel and get set up, fix cars and do that again for six straight weeks is going to be hard on our crew guys, but I wouldn’t substitute any of the guys we’ve got for this. These guys are all excited, and I think seeing their faces after we climbed out of the cars was as much fun as it was to see the fans’ faces. These guys have worked 70-, 80-hour weeks to get 16 cars ready to come to the racetrack. I’m pretty proud of these guys.”

 

The Camping World SRX Series leaves the pavement of Stafford’s half-mile oval behind and transitions to dirt-track racing at the legendary Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway. The second of the Camping World SRX Series’ six-race short-track schedule takes place June 19 at the half-mile, semi-banked dirt oval roughly 40 miles southeast of Des Moines.

 

Joining the Camping World SRX Series regulars at Knoxville are Brian Brown, Scott Bloomquist and Hailie Deegan.

 

Brown is a prolific sprint car driver with 180 career feature victories, including five in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. The Grain Valley, Missouri-native is the four-time and reigning 410 Sprint Car champion at Knoxville (2007, 2010, 2019 and 2020), where his 53 wins place him fifth on the track’s all-time win list.

 

Bloomquist has won more than 600 dirt late model events in his 40-year career, including 94 in the Lucas Oil Dirt National Series and 33 sanctioned by the World of Outlaws. From Mooresburg, Tennessee, Bloomquist is a nine-time national champion.

 

Deegan is subbing for Camping World SRX Series regular driver Tony Kanaan, who has a commitment in his native Brazil. Deegan is a fulltime driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The 19-year-old racer from Temecula, California, is a three-time winner in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and was the first female to win a race in that series.

 

After Knoxville, the Camping World SRX Series stays on the dirt with its June 26 event at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. SRX returns to pavement July 3 at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis and then ventures north to Slinger (Wis.) Speedway on July 10 before its season finale July 17 at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.

 

Every Camping World SRX Series race will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET on the CBS Television Network with streaming live on Paramount+ Premium.

 

Heat Race No. 1 (15 minutes, 36 laps):

Note: Starting lineup determined by random draw.

1.   Greg Biffle (Started 1st; led laps 1-36)

2.   Bobby Labonte (Started 2nd; completed 36/36 laps)

3.   Helio Castroneves (Started 3rd; completed 36/36 laps)

4.   Ernie Francis Jr. (Started 4th; completed 36/36 laps)

5.   Tony Kanaan (Started 7th; completed 36/36 laps)

6.   Doug Coby (Started 10th; completed 36/36 laps)

7.   Tony Stewart (Started 5th; completed 36/36 laps)

8.   Marco Andretti (Started 12th; completed 36/36 laps)

9.   Bill Elliott (Started 11th; completed 36/36 laps)

10.  Michael Waltrip (Started 8th; completed 36/36 laps)

11.  Willy T. Ribbs (Started 9th; completed 36/36 laps)

12.  Paul Tracy (Started 6th; completed 27/36 laps)

 

Heat Race No. 2 (15 minutes, 35 laps):

Note: Drivers’ finishing positions in Heat Race No. 1 were inverted for start of Heat Race No. 2.

1.   Doug Coby (Started 7th; led laps 34-35)

2.   Michael Waltrip (Started 3rd; led laps 1-28, 30-33; completed 35/35 laps)

3.   Tony Stewart (Started 6th; completed 35/35 laps)

4.   Bill Elliott (Started 4th; completed 35/35 laps)

5.   Ernie Francis Jr. (Started 9th; completed 35/35 laps)

6.   Paul Tracy (Started 1st; led lap 29; completed 35/35 laps)

7.   Tony Kanaan (Started 8th; completed 35/35 laps)

8.   Bobby Labonte (Started 11th; completed 35/35 laps)

9.   Marco Andretti (Started 5th; completed 35/35 laps)

10.  Willy T. Ribbs (Started 2nd; completed 24/35 laps)  

11.  Helio Castroneves (Started 10th; completed 23/35 laps)

12.  Greg Biffle (Started 12th; completed 23/35 laps)

 

Feature Results (100 laps):

Note: Starting lineup was based on finishing position in Heat Race No. 2.

1.   Doug Coby (Started 1st; led laps 1-8, 25-61, 65-96, 98-100; completed 100/100 laps)

2.    Greg Biffle (Started 12th; led laps 16-24, 62-64, 97; completed 100/100 laps)

3.    Tony Stewart (Started 3rd; led laps 9-11; completed 100/100 laps)

4.    Helio Castroneves (Started 11th; completed 100/100 laps)

5.    Bobby Labonte (Started 8th; completed 100/100 laps)

6.    Ernie Francis Jr. (Started 5th; completed 100/100 laps)

7.    Tony Kanaan (Started 7th; completed 100/100 laps)

8.    Willy T. Ribbs (Started 10th; completed 100/100 laps)

9.    Paul Tracy (Started 6th; completed 99/100 laps)

10.  Marco Andretti (Started 9th; completed 98/100 laps)

11.  Michael Waltrip (Started 2nd; completed 51/100 laps)

12.  Bill Elliott (Started 4th; completed 9/100 laps)

 

SRX Racing PR