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.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).