It only took 20 tries for Doug Coby to get the hang of things at Riverhead Raceway.
One week removed from missing the Whelen Modified Tour’s stop at Oswego Speedway, Coby got back to his winning ways with relative ease, leading 149 of 200 laps Sunday en route to the Buzz Chew Chevrolet Cadillac 200 victory, his second win of the season and second in a row at the quarter-mile track.
“We hit on something here,” Coby told NBC Sports’ TrackPass in Victory Lane following his 31st career win, tying him with Jeff Fuller for fifth on the all-time series wins list. “In Victory Lane for round two at Riverhead. Who would’ve thought that Doug Coby would be in contention to sweep Riverhead three times in a year when we come back in September? It’s so hard here and we’ve hit on something.”
Coby’s week off saw him fall to eighth in the championship standings, making a bid for his seventh title much tougher. Another win helps his chances, but unfortunately for him, the top two drivers of Patrick Emerling and Justin Bonsignore finished right behind Coby’s No. 10 once again in second and third, respectively, for the second straight race at Riverhead.
“I was just trying to bide my time there, keep the right rear on the car,” Emerling said following his fifth top-five finish in six races this season. “We got to second there and I thought we were in really good shape. I was looking forward to another 50 laps … hopefully we can come here and get one spot better (in September).”
Bonsignore, an eight-time winner at Riverhead, led the opening 51 laps from the pole before relinquishing the lead to Coby. While battling for position, he suddenly fell outside the top 10 as his No. 51 lost power before regaining it moments later.
“It’s tough here now with the spray, you gotta muscle our way to the top,” he explained following his fifth top-five finish this season. “It’s not the same track we were winning at for awhile. We gotta do our homework a little bit and see if when we get back here in September we can get a little better.”
Coby smiled and looked behind his No. 10 car in the winner’s circle at both Emerling and Bonsignore parked behind him, commenting on the championship battle unfolding.
“I wish I could get rid of these two,” Coby joked. “I finally win races up here, I look and the guys that are second and third are the guys I’m chasing in points. But that’s how good they are.”
Said Bonsignore: “These guys have been top 3 every week. Going to be one of these years it seems. It’s good to have new guys battling with us and Doug. Patrick’s team has been really good this year, they’re going to fight us until the end.”
With rain forcing the postponement of the race from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon, Coby, along with most other teams, were forced to make last-minute travel arrangements, causing a bit of a logistical headache. Emerling was quick to thank local driver J.B. Fortin, whose family allowed Emerling’s team to stay the night avoiding travel to and from the track on Father’s Day weekend.
Ron Silk and Anthony Nocella finished fourth and fifth, respectively, earning their first top five finishes of the season. Tommy Catalano, Kyle Soper, Jon McKennedy, Dylan Slepian and Tyler Rypkema rounded out the top 10 finishers.
The race was slowed six times for on-track incidents, including a red-flag period after Fortin, Eric Goodale and Dave Sapienza were involved in a multi-car accident.
The Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track on July 17 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Whelen 100. Bobby Santos III has won the last two events at NHMS (six total) and is expected to be in the field making his 2021 season debut.