DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – official series release by Jason Cunningham, NASCAR — Getty Images for NASCAR photo —
In the three-act structure of storytelling, the segments include the setup, confrontation and resolution. Doug Coby’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour career fits quite well with this mold, and he’s providing plenty of resolution in his third act.
Coby’s first two acts have been well-chronicled at this point, but to briefly review:
Act 1, The Setup – The Milford, Connecticut, native debuted on the Whelen Modified Tour in 2002 and competed full-time from 2003-07. He became established as a regular in the garage.
Act 2, The Confrontation – From 2008-10 he was without a full-time car, with various opportunities here and there, but nothing stable. His future on the tour, and his place in it, was in question.
Act 3, The Resolution – This is where we’ll pick up the story, and this act is still very much a work-in-progress for the 36-year-old. The story is not yet complete, but loose ends are getting tied up.
Act 3 began in 2011 when he returned to full-time competition. In the five years since Coby began The Resolution, success has been abundant. One win and no championships in the 100 races that comprised Acts 1 and 2 compared with 16 wins and three championships in 72 races of the evolving Act 3.
In addition to the experience gained over time, and being associated with top-tier teams, Coby also attributes an evolving mental approach to his success of recent seasons.
“I go back to 2010 and 2011 when I really started to have fun racing,” Coby said. “At that time it wasn’t necessarily about winning races. Those years were just about getting back to what racing is about – having fun, meeting people.”
He didn’t let The Confrontation weigh him down. That was crucial to the wealth of success that has followed in The Resolution.
“It was more about the mindset, about being thankful for what I had, which was an opportunity to drive a bunch of different cars,” Coby said.
His first Whelen Modified Tour crown came in 2012 in his second full season with Darling Racing. That team left the sport following a runner-up finish in its 2013 title defense. Coby quickly latched on with Mike Smeriglio III Racing and has won the title in both of his years behind the wheel of the No. 2 Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer Repair Chevrolet.
This year’s championship defense wasn’t all smooth sailing, however. An early crash at Bristol in August had them in third place, 32 points out of the lead with four races to go. They finished second the next time out at Riverhead and closed the season with three consecutive wins from the pole at New Hampshire, Stafford and Thompson.
It marked the greatest conclusion to a season by one team in Whelen Modified Tour history.
“The three-in-a-row, it’s weird because we just took them one at a time. It wasn’t like we put pressure on ourselves to win them,” Coby said. “It really started at Riverhead with the second place finish when we were a bumper away from winning that race, too.
“That’s probably not something I ever could have scripted or even thought about, but it happened so we’ll enjoy it while we can and move on to the future.”
With the elements in place for a dynastic run by Coby and the MSIII team, Coby’s not comfortable predicting a future of continued success though. He instead chooses to focus on what can sustain the team from one year to the next.
“I think a lot of that depends on sponsorship,” Coby said. “Even championship teams need more sponsors to keep moving forward. Certainly nobody is going to sit back and let us ride around and win championships, so we’ve got to keep moving forward.”
CREDIT: NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications