RIVERHEAD, N.Y. — One week ago, Doug Coby had no idea that he would be racing in Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Miller Lite 200 at Riverhead Raceway.
Tommy Baldwin Jr.’s decision to put the six-time Tour champion in the famed No. 7NY as a substitute for Jimmy Blewett paid off for both parties, as Coby took control of the race early to claim his 32nd career victory.
Being able to win in a car as famous as the No. 7NY was a tremendous honor for Coby, but he dedicated Saturday’s victory at Riverhead to Blewett’s family as they take care of his sick daughter, Kayla.
“More important than anything, Kayla Blewett is home with her family,” Coby said. “I guess I was kind of the pseudo-Riverhead guy tonight driving the No. 7NY. Tommy gave me a great car and I want to thank him and all his guys for the hard work. It was an unfortunate circumstance, but you’ve got to make the most of it.”
Saturday’s victory marked the first time Coby had taken part in a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event this season.
A longtime staple of the division, Coby elected to scale back his own operation for 2022 to focus on obligations away from the track. His plan was to compete in four races with the Tour as part of a limited schedule.
Coby immediately jumped at the opportunity to drive for Baldwin when he got the phone call on Tuesday and promptly reminded the rest of the Tour field why he was so efficient in the series for a decade.
After passing polesitter Timmy Solomito, Coby was nearly uncontested for the rest of the evening at Riverhead as he perfectly executed multiple restarts and methodically carved his way through the ever-prevalent lapped traffic around the quarter-mile bullring.
The closest challenge Coby received came during a green-white-checkered attempt, where he was tasked with holding off the hard-charging Patrick Emerling, who had climbed his way up from the 15th starting position.
Emerling believed he was faster than Coby’s during the second half of the race, but admitted that the tires on his car were too exhausted to mount a challenge on the restart, forcing him to settle for second.
“My tires were just marbled up and I could not quite get it going,” Emerling said. “[Coby] started early and he did get me a little bit. When I got on it, the car was standing still, but I’m proud of what the team did today. We were able to drive ourselves up to the front and we had an awesome car tonight.”
Ron Silk maintained track position up front all evening to secure a third-place finish. Riverhead regular Dylan Slepian finished fourth while Solomito completed the top five.