Doug Coby earns second NASCAR Whelen Mods title in three years

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Doug Coby (pictured, right) finished a season-worst 17th in Sunday’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour finale at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway, but it was still enough to give him his second series title in the last three seasons.

Coby entered the Sunoco World Series 150 at Thompson with a 28-point lead over Ted Christopher. But even though Coby had a rough outing, Christopher had an even worse one as he was involved in a crash that relegated him to 20th at the finish.

At the sharp end of the field, front row starter Ryan Preece dominated proceedings by leading a race-high 137 laps that included the last 73.

Preece’s win enabled him to leap-frog Christopher for second in the series standings at 22 points behind Coby; Christopher ended up falling to fifth in the points behind Coby, Preece, Justin Bonsignore, and Ron Silk.

Consistency was the key for Coby in this Whelen Modified season. He claimed a non-points triumph at Daytona International Speedway to start the season in February and picked up his first points win of the year in June at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.

In all, Coby would collect nine Top-5 finishes along the 13-race schedule. He’s now the fifth multi-time champion in the history of the Whelen Modified Tour.

It also marks a big payoff for a big decision he had to make earlier this winter. When his previous team owner, Wayne Darling, opted to cut back his team’s 2014 schedule, Coby decided to join Mike Smeriglio’s full-time program.

“Racing is a tough sport and you make decisions to move forward,” Coby said to reporters. “Everybody on this team made a tough decision this winter. They made some driver changes, some crew changes and the plan paid off. This is all about Mike Smeriglio and this team and this family and all the hard work they put in on the Modified Tour.

“He is the most deserving car owner in the pit area to get this championship. Phil Moran is a top notch crew chief, he knows what he’s doing and the guy can put a car together and this is really about those two. It’s a great feeling to be able to drive this car and represent them.”

As with the rest of NASCAR’s touring series champions, Coby will be honored this December as part of an awards ceremony in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.

Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

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Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
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Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2