CT----------Doug Coby of Milford, CT should have at least four or five wins on
the NASCAR Whelen modified tour but various mechanical problems and crashes
ended sure-fire trips to victory lane.
So when Coby qualified poorly and needed to take a provisional just to get into
the field for the Spring Sizzler, he wasn't high on the list of potential
winners. But Coby proved everyone wrong and cruised to his first ever tour win
in the most prestigious of all races of the modified tour, the Stafford Spring
As Coby pulled into Carquest Victory Lane, the 26 year old driver paused a
minute before exiting the car to the high five's and hugs from the Chase crew
and the well wishes from many around the hallowed ground.
"Wow". That was Doug's first words when asked about what it meant to win not
only on the modified tour but to win it at the Stafford Motor Speedway, a track
just 10 years earlier when he was a mere 16 years old and drove in the late
"This means so much to me, not only to win on the tour but to win here at
Stafford. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not usually at a loss for words
but this has done it." An ecstatic Coby the track announcer as he drank the
traditional bottle of milk.
Coby, driving the #77 Curt Chase owned modified sponsored by Angellinos Italian
Restaurant and Red Line Oil was able to keep Donny Lia behind him at the end as
Eric Beers finished third with Mike Stefanik fourth and fifth to Rob Summers.
Coby, who steadily worked his way to the front took over the lead on lap 139 and
was never headed although he did encounter heavy lapped traffic, which didn't
heed the passing flag.
Many fans were wondering if Doug Coby and Donny Lia, who have a confrontational
past might get together before the day was out but both Coby and Lia didn't want
to ruin a great finish and add more fuel to an already rocky relationship.
"I know that Donny and I have had our run ins but I knew he wouldn't risk a good
finish. I knew that the only way that he was going to go around me was on the
outside but I also had saved plenty of my car so I figured that we were in good
Although Lia won the Bud Pole for the fastest car, he said after the race that
he didn't have a winning car or even a second place finish so he was thrilled to
take the second and go on to the next race.
"We just missed the set up a bit." Donny said. "I have to congratulate Doug on
getting his first win. This track is hard to pass on so track position is quite
When he was asked about if he could have gotten closer at the end and knowing of
the past history with Coby if the fans could expect more of the same but Lia was
quick to point out that is the past, for now.
"I am sure that Doug and I are going to be racing side by side a lot more and
things can happen but neither one of us are going to take a chance and ruin a
But this day belonged to Coby, who has raced and won in every division he has
raced in at Stafford and although those many 'lost' wins would have been nice,
to win at Stafford and in the Sizzler couldn't be finer.
"This track has meant so much to me and my career and to get the win here and
have Mark and Jackie (Arute, JR) come up and congratulate me means a whole lot.
I wish that Jack SR was here to see it." Doug said as one by one the crew lifted
his up off his feet in victory lane.
The 35th annual Spring Sizzler couldn't have been run on a nicer spring
afternoon and with a capacity crowd on hand, they were about to be entertained
to 200 laps of racing.
It was Chuck Hossfeld jumping out front on the initial green and for the first
43 laps, the race was being run liked they were all double parked on the street
but as the old saying goes, cautions breed cautions and that never was more true
than Sunday at Stafford.
John Blewett, III took over the lead on lap 22 before the yellow fever hit the
track, as there were five cautions, all within 36 laps and for mostly minor
On lap 52, Todd Szegedy, former series champion took over the lead from Blewett
but just as he did, Jamie Tomaino spun.
As the track clicked off lap 60, it was Szegedy setting the pace in the
Wisk/Snuggles Ford with Blewett second, with Stefanik third, Eric Beers fourth
and tour champion, Tony Hirschman fifth.
On lap 70 a caution flew for Zack Sylvester and it was a chance for both Coby
and Lia to duck into the pit area tires and adjustments and with Stafford a
tricky track to pass on, the early pitting played out later down the road.
Mike Stefanik in the Diversified Metals Chevrolet then moved into second and
began applying pressure to Szegedy for the lead but T.C., Ted Christopher, the
master at Stafford passed Stefanik and soon set his sights on Szegedy before
passing him on lap 87.
On lap 93, another caution slowed the field and many of the front cars all
pitted but Christopher and Szegedy stayed on the track hoping to pit later and
have fresher tires at the end.
On lap 100, the caution again flew as the field hit the halfway point in the
feature and the top five cars were TC, Szegedy, Reggie Ruggiero, Ken Barry and
lap 106, Reggie Ruggiero in the Dick Barney owned #41 showed he hasn't lost
anything behind the wheel despite being a part timer on the tour recently. He
dispatched Szegedy for second with Fuller taking third as Szegedy settled into
fourth with Matt Hirschman moving into the fifth spot.
Another caution flew on lap 116 when Mike Stefanik, getting impatient with cars
in front of him made it three wide in turn one trying to get around but it
caused the cars of Hossfeld and Blewett to become locked together and spin in
On lap 117, when pit road opened up, Christopher, Ruggiero, Szegedy, James
Civali, Barry and Blewett all pitted. Ruggiero's crew lost him a lap on pit road
when they had trouble with a right front tire.
That surrendered the lead over to Rick Fuller in the Joe Brady owned/Polar
On lap 130 with Fuller still setting the pace, it was Zack Sylvester second with
Tony Hirschman third, Doug Coby fourth and fifth to Matt Hirschman.
Another caution flew on lap 134 for another simple spin but it was the 'Lucky
Dog' for Ruggiero as he was able to get back on the lead lap.
Zack Sylvester and Tony Hirschman were on the front row for the restart but as
the duo hit turn one, Sylvester rode Tony up the track and Hirschman spun and as
Sylvester was trying to correct himself, Coby sneaked by for the lead.
The final caution of the day, thankfully, flew on lap 145 as Kirk Alexander
brought out the caution as he stopped in turn three.
At lap 150, the top five were Coby, Lia, Rob Summers, Eric Beers and Matt
Mike Stefanik was now on the move up to seventh on the track and he was clearly
the quickest car on the track but would there be enough time.
Stefanik moved to sixth on lap 158 and then just four laps later passed the
younger Hirschman for fifth.
On lap 174, Eric Beers got by Rob Summers, who the night before won the feature
at the Waterford Speedbowl, for third and Stefanik took the opening to get by
Summers also for fourth.
In the mean time, Coby was beginning to stretch his advantage just slightly over
Lia but as they clicked off lap 190, the leaders were beginning to encounter
On lap 196, they caught the last car and Steve Whitt, who has run up front in
the past didn't give Coby and Lia any room and that allowed not only Lia a
chance at Coby but for Beers and Stefanik to close in and challenge.
But it wasn't to be and Coby finally got the big ape off his back and cruised to
win the biggest race in modified racing, the Spring Sizzler.
"To be racing here since I was 16 and to get my first win here and to win the
Sizzler is unbelievable. I have to thank Curt and the entire team for taking a
chance on me and today it finally paid off."
One can be sure that the second win won't take as long as the elusive first one
Coby earned $7,600 for the win
Sixth through tenth was Ted Christopher, James Civali, the highest finishing
rookie for the second straight race, Matt Hirschman, Tony Hirschman and Danny
Sammons in his first top ten finish.
MOD SERIES NOTES
Eric Beers who finished third and captured his first tour win last year at the
Seekonk Speedway said the cautions just didn't fall right for him but was
pleased with the results. "When I didn't want a caution, we got plenty of them
and when I wanted one at the end, I couldn't get one but that's the way it
goes." "I want to congratulate Doug on the win, he deserved it but I am really
proud of our team today." The Northampton, PA driver said after the race.
Danny Sammons is in his first year driving on the modified tour for veteran car
owner, Ralph Solhem after running in the Hooters Cup series and other full
fender series but the New Jersey resident has made some noise. He earned his
first top ten here but was also running in the top 12 at Thompson when he was
caught up in a wreck late in the race at the season opening Icebreaker. Sammons
and the rest of the young rookies are capable of running up front and giving the
veterans fits before the season is out. These rookies on the tour this year are
rookies in name only.
Donnie Lia captured the Bud Pole award for the Spring Sizzler, setting the
fastest time for the 48 drivers who attempted to qualify for the race. Lia
turned the half-mile in 18.600 seconds good for 96.774 MPH.
Defending series champion, Tony Hirschman was second with Todd Szegedy third,
Eddie Flemke, Jr. fourth while Mike Stefanik rounded out the top five.
Sixth through tenth was John Blewett, III, Eric Beers, Ted Christopher, Chuck
Hossfeld and Mike Andrews.
M. Jodi Rell, the Governor of Connecticut was the grand marshal for the annual
The 35th annual Carquest Spring Sizzler was the second of 17 modified tour races
in 2006 and the first of four at the half-mile Stafford Motor Speedway. The
other events at Jack Arute's oval will be May 26th with the Connecticut Classic
150, August 11th for the New England Dodge Dealers 150 and October 1st for the
Carquest Fall Final weekend.
The Carquest Spring Sizzler was the 79th modified tour event at Stafford and the
460th since the inception of the tour back in 1985.
Richie Evans was the winner of the first Whelen modified tours Spring Sizzler.
Posted Awards for the Spring Sizzler, one of the most prestigious events on the
modified circuit was $90,963 for the 200-lap event.
Tony Hirschman captured last years Spring Sizzler; it was the first of his
career and his fourth victory at Stafford. He also won the New England Dodge
Dealers 150 and the Fall Final bringing his total wins at six.
Mike Stefanik leads all drivers with 18 modified tour wins at Stafford. Reggie
Ruggiero is second with eight, Ted Christopher and Tony Hirschman with six; Rick
Fuller with five while Jerry Marquis has four. Eddie Flemke, Jr. has 3 wins with
John Blewett, III, and Todd Szegedy has 2 checkers while Jamie Tomaino has one.