Column By: MARTY CZEKALA / RPW – BRISTOL, TN – Doug Coby’s been having some fun this season outside of racing his NASCAR Whelen Modified.
First, he skipped a Tour race in Oswego, NY, to race in the inaugural SRX event in Stafford. A surprise to many in the racing world, it wasn’t a surprise to the Modified community as he drove the “Rocky Balboa” car to victory lane.
His crew chief that night was Mike Beam, team president at GMS Racing. Following the win, Coby was given another opportunity to make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut this Thursday night.
“We just bonded real quick. We started talking about racing, and [Beam] was really curious about my history in the Modified and how I came to be,” Coby told Race Pro Weekly. “He knew I wanted to win the race. Just that mix of competitiveness and that overall desire formed the bond. I joked with him that if I went out there and won the race that he was gonna have to put me in one of the trucks. He stood true to his word and called me the day after the race and put me in the truck at Bristol. It was that much of a fairy tale story. Hopefully, another chapter is written.”
In a 1-on-1 interview with RPW on September 4th, followed by a media availability on Tuesday, Coby talked about his excitement of making his first start in a NASCAR national series.
“It’s a huge opportunity with GMS Racing to be able to hop in a truck. They have some of the best trucks out there. They’re putting a really good truck together that’s won in the series before. At my age, I knew if I was gonna get invited to do something in the Truck or Xfinity Series, I knew it had to be something good,” Coby said.
GMS Racing is one of the teams that will be threats Thursday night as the team as a whole has won four of the last five Bristol races on Concrete. Coby is driving the same truck that has succeeded in recent years at “Thunder Valley.”
“They won in 2019 with Brett Moffitt driving the truck and again in 2020 with Sam Mayer. A little bit of pressure for me to go out there and perform. Obviously, they’ve had some great drivers in their equipment over the years. Having five trucks full-time in the series is something where they’re able to share notes and make all the trucks better. It’s evident with Sheldon winning the first two Playoff races,” Coby commented.
Coby’s first laps in the truck will be when the green flies at 9pm ET Thursday night, but Coby isn’t getting any simulator or iRacing laps in. Coby isn’t a big iRacer. With the race coming quick, the Chevy simulator has been busy as GMS continues their Playoff hunt with Sheldon Creed and Zane Smith.
“I got some in-car cameras from the team from the last couple of races they ran there so I can see stuff the drivers are doing,” Coby explained. “The trucks are quite a bit slower than the Modifieds. I think that will help me just to slow things down a little bit and not have to hold my breath the whole time.”
Coby’s experience at Bristol includes eight Modified Tour races with four top fives, including a runner-up in 2017. He’s yet to lead laps at “The Colosseum.”
He expects the Truck to drive similar to the SRX car he raced in Stafford.
“The truck weighs about the same as the SRX car. It’s got about the same power. The SRX car didn’t feel a whole lot different from the Modified other than being on a super hard, smaller tire.”
Even with no practice, Coby had a game plan for the 200 lap event.
“I’m gonna use the first 30-50 laps to feel it out and figure out what I’m doing out there, and hopefully, after we get tires and come up through the field a little bit, we can get racey.”
Now that he starts 31st per the grid formula, that plan changes.
“I need to perform pretty quickly and try not to make mistakes. I need to move forward, and I’m not going out there for a Sunday drive. I need to be smart and know who I’m racing around and realize that I’m not driving a Modified,” Coby commented.