LEE, N.H. – Unlike the Kentucky Derby a few weeks ago, there would be no upset winner in the inaugural Granite State Derby presented by USA Insulation.
Doug Coby conquered Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at New Hampshire’s Lee USA Speedway to earn his second Tour victory of the season in as many starts.
The 175-lap event was the first Tour event held at the 0.375-mile paved oval since 1998.
Coby, who was back in Tommy Baldwin Jr.’s No. 7NY for second straight race following a victory last weekend at New York’s Riverhead Raceway, spent the first half of the race conserving his equipment while Matt Hirschman led the way.
“Tommy Baldwin gave me a good car for two races in a row,” Coby said. “Just setting my pace with Matt (Hirschman) out front and just kind of seeing what his car was doing and it was really good. (We) just stuck to our plan.”
Coby moved into the lead for the first time following a restart on Lap 104, but he appeared to be in trouble as J.B. Fortin began marching through the field with fresh tires.
Fortin had nearly caught Coby when the caution flag waved for a spin by Justin Bonsignore. That allowed the entire field to hit the pits for fresh tires, with Tommy Catalano beating Coby off pit road to take the lead.
Catalano’s stint at the front was brief, as Coby quickly returned to the lead during the restart with 19 laps left. Coby had the race under control at that point and looked well on his way to victory until contact between polesitter Jake Johnson and Eric Goodale brought the caution flag back out with two laps left.
Coby held serve during the Overtime restart, fending off Jon McKennedy and pulling away to his 33rd NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory.
“This is a tough track, you can spin your tires real easy,” Coby explained. “Jon is a clean driver, Matt is a clean driver, but I didn’t want to worry too much about Jon and open the door for Matt to be the hero. They’re both so good.
“To be able to race with those guys is a great feat for this 7NY team and the Baldwin family.”
McKennedy’s runner-up result was his best finish of the season in the No. 79 Modified. It was his seventh runner-up finish in Modified Tour competition since scoring his lone Tour win in 2018, ironically driving for Baldwin at the now-defunct Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina.
“Just needed to rotate a little bit better. We were a little bit too pushy,” McKennedy said about his race car. “I just had to wait that little bit right in the middle of the corner to get the car to turn, and ultimately that’s where we struggled all day.
“Still a little bit off, but hey, I’ll take it.”
Hirschman dominated the opening 100 laps of the race but struggled to race his way back through the field following his first pit stop.
He eventually recovered to finish third, but he admitted there were some decisions he would like to have back after he dominated the opening portion of the event.
“Good start, just ended up a little bit off on strategy,” Hirschman said. “Sometimes you live or die by some of the decisions you make, and some of them start earlier in the day. What you do with your tires and how you plan on using them. I think we just ended up a little bit off. I’d like to re-do a couple things, but still a good run.”
Ron Silk finished fourth for his second top-five of the season, while Johnson was fifth in his second career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start.
Kyle Bonsignore, Austin Beers, Fortin, Goodale and Justin Bonsignore completed the top 10.
Saturday’s event was promoted by JDV Productions and was first in the three-race Whelen Granite State Short Track Cup, a mini-series within the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule that features an additional purse structure and bonus money for competing teams.
A replay of Saturday’s Granite State Derby presented by USA Insulation at Lee USA Speedway will be broadcast on USA Network on Saturday, May 28 starting at at 11 a.m. ET.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to action on Saturday night, May 28, with the running of the Jennerstown Salutes 150 at Pennsylvania’s Jennerstown Speedway. The event will be shown live on FloRacing.