BRISTOL, Tenn. — It’s Bristol, baby.
It’s the race everyone wants to win at any level of auto racing. Whether it’s the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the Camping World Truck Series, the Sprint Cup Series or anything in between, everyone wants to climb out the window and have the fireworks go off as they celebrate a victory in ‘Thunder Valley.’
Wednesday night, in the annual Bush’s Beans 150 combination race for the NASCAR Whelen Modified and Southern Modified Tours, another driver will look to add his or her name to the list of winners on the 0.533-mile oval.
The list of 38 drivers that has been compiled for the event is star-studded and filled with talent, meaning there are many drivers who could definitely collect a Bristol crown and celebrate a gladiator’s glory.
The list of Northern invaders includes two-time defending series champion Doug Coby, who has yet to win at Bristol in his career — one that already includes three total NWMT championships. However, Coby’s career stats show that Bristol hasn’t been one of his best tracks.
His best finish at the famed oval is fourth in 2014, but other than that successful top five run, Coby has not finished inside the top-10. Out of his five races at the track, Coby has failed to finish two of them, including a motor failure in 2011 and a crash in 2015. He got sideways and wrecked out of last year’s event just two laps in and never got a chance to show the speed under the hood of the No. 2 Dunleavy Truck and Trailer Repair mount.
“Bristol is a big race for us,” Coby said. “To be there with the Sprint Cup Series and be there at a facility like that to begin with. It’s one of the coolest things we actually get to do. Last year was a mistake on my part and I think there is a couple of things they are going to change on the car this time. Bristol is such a wild card, it’s a place where one persons mistake can just ruin your day.”
His list of challengers from the North is a tough one. Recent series winner Justin Bonsignore, who triumphed at Thompson last Wednesday, is entered behind the wheel of his No. 51 M3 Technology SPAFCO Chassis for Ken Massa. Bonsignore sits second in the point standings coming into the race, just 15 points from Coby at the top and his career at Bristol has also seen him run up at the front.
In his first start there in 2010, he won the pole award and finished fifth. He notched a second in 2011, then a fourth in 2012. Since then, Bonsignore has finished eighth, sixth and 24th. The only finish outside the top-10 was 2015, when Bonsignore was involved in the same crash that took out Coby on lap two.
“I’m really hoping the second half of the year is a good stretch for us,” Bonsignore said. “I know Bristol is one of my favorite tracks, I’m really excited to get down there and hopefully we can keep this momentum going. We have to just stay on top of things and stay smooth.”