Takeaways from the Miller Lite 200 at Riverhead Raceway

After another month-long break in the schedule, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returned to action Saturday with the first of three events this year at New York’s Riverhead Raceway.

The race was dominated by Doug Coby, who received the call Tuesday to pilot Tommy Baldwin Jr.’s No. 7 at Riverhead while originally scheduled driver Jimmy Blewett cared for his ill daughter.

RESULTS: Miller Lite 200 at Riverhead Raceway

Coby started third in the Miller Lite 200 and took the lead early from polesitter Timmy Solomito, a position he held for nearly the entire race.

He survived an overtime restart to collect the victory, his 32nd Tour victory in his first start of the season.

Below are the key takeaways from Saturday’s Miller Lite 200, beginning with Coby’s triumphant return to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

Doug Coby becomes a super sub

Coby was never supposed to race at Riverhead on Saturday night, but he certainly made the most of an unexpected opportunity.

The driver from Milford, Connecticut, was practically untouchable during the Miller Lite 200 behind the wheel of Tommy Baldwin Jr.’s No. 7. The dominant performance by Coby allowed him to earn his third Tour victory at the quarter-mile bullring in the last four Tour stops at the track.

“This was a really cool opportunity to drive this car, under unfortunate circumstances, of course,” Coby told FloRacing on Saturday night. “Jimmy Blewett was supposed to be in the car. We’re just thankful that his daughter, Kayla, is home from the hospital, and from what I hear things are improving.

“The Modified Tour is a great big family. We all like to rub nerf bars and wreck each other and do all sorts of crazy stuff, but we all hang out together. Jimmy’s a good friend of mine, so I’m happy to hear his daughter is home, and to go out there and win one for Kayla was pretty neat.”

The six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion announced earlier this year that he’d be taking time off from the Tour this season with plans to complete in four Tour events as well as a few Open Modified events elsewhere.

However, Coby’s win Saturday night at Riverhead proved he still has plenty of ability left should he ever decide to return to the Tour on a regular basis.

His next scheduled NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race is on July 16 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Another strong Riverhead run for Patrick Emerling

Patrick Emerling’s runner-up showing Saturday continued his recent hot streak at Riverhead.

During the Tour’s three visits to Riverhead in 2021, Emerling did not record a finish worse than second. The final trip saw Emerling lead a race-high 85 laps and hold off defending Tour champion Justin Bonsignore for his third and final win on the year.

Unfortunately for Emerling, Saturday’s Miller Lite 200 followed the trend of the other two 2021 races at Riverhead with Coby finishing one spot in front of him, but he feels confident he can add two more wins to his resume for the other planned Riverhead races this year.

RELATED: Watch Patrick Emerling’s interview following his runner-up at Riverhead

Regardless of whether Coby ends up running those events, Emerling said he will be in a much better position to come away victorious at Riverhead if he shows pace in both practice and qualifying.

“We need to get a little bit of a better starting position,” Emerling said. “We just have to do our thing out there, but Doug was really good tonight. We were also good, but I just couldn’t get going on that restart. We’ll get them next time.”

More bad luck for Bonsignore

After winning the most recent NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Richmond Raceway in April, Justin Bonsignore thought all his bad luck was behind him.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

On Lap 59, Bonsignore suddenly slowed as smoke billowed from his No. 51 Phoenix Communications modified, resulting in the first caution flag of the race.

He was able to return to the track later in the race and completed 143 laps but finished 25th in the 30-car field.

The defending and three-time Tour champion is now 10th in the series standings after three races, 36 points behind leader Eric Goodale.

NOTES:

  • Ron Silk’s third-place finish was his best result of the season. He is now second in the Tour standings, two points behind Goodale and one point ahead of Tommy Catalano.
  • A number of local drivers were entered in the Miller Lite 200 at Riverhead Raceway, with Dylan Slepian proving the best of the bunch following his fourth-place finish.
  • Solomito was the only other driver besides Coby to lead laps Saturday night. He led 17 circuits but faded to a fifth-place finish by the time the checkered flag waved.
  • John Baker, making just his fifth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start, earned a career-best sixth-place finish.
  • Defending track champion Kyle Soper scored his sixth career top-10 finish with the Tour, all of which have come at Riverhead. Another local, John Beatty Jr., earned his fifth career top-10 finish with the Tour. They have all come at Riverhead, as well.
  • The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season continues Saturday, May 21, with the running of the inaugural Granite State Derby presented by USA Insulation at New Hampshire’s Lee USA Speedway. The race will be streamed live by FloRacing starting at 7 p.m. ET.