DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — With their own teams not able to make the trip, a pair of champion NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers leaned on relationships developed through the years to secure rides for the inaugural UNOH Battle At The Beach, Feb. 18-19 at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
Reigning NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Champion Doug Coby and 2010 tour titlist Bobby Santos will head to the “World Center of Racing” thanks to arrangements secured just recently to allow them to compete in the new special event on the .4-mile oval on the backstretch at Daytona.
Those arrangements will also see them team up with another pair of champions, and legends in the modified ranks. Coby is slated to compete in a team car to Ted Christopher — the 2001 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion and 2008 Whelen Modified Tour titlist — while Santos’ car will come out of the same shop as that of nine-time NASCAR champion Mike Stefanik.
Coby turned in a dominant performance — highlighted by five wins — during the 2013 season to deliver No. 52 Chevrolet car owner Wayne Darling his first Whelen Modified Tour title. Drivers who won a race or captured the championship during the season were awarded a locked-in starting position for the Whelen Modified feature at the UNOH Battle At The Beach, so Coby had his bases covered when it came to the Daytona race.
Darling was not able to send his No. 52 team to Florida, however, which left Coby looking for another opportunity. That’s where Boehler Racing Enterprises — a Massachusetts-based team like Darling Racing — got involved.
“I guess that Michael Boehler got word that I didn’t have a ride,” Coby said. “They were looking to bring a second car, and obviously knowing that I have a guaranteed starting spot helped, so he talked to Wayne and they worked out a sponsorship deal.”
So Coby will now head to Daytona as a teammate to Christopher. Christopher will pilot famous No. 3 “Ole Blue” Chevrolet while Coby will bring his traditional No. 52 decals to put on the second BRE car.
“It’s going to be a cool race to be a part of, and to be a part of it with a Boehler car is just like the cherry on top of the sundae,” Coby said. “Obviously I would have liked to be there with my No. 52 team — first and foremost I wish I could have gone with them — but to go with a second car for the Boehler team is pretty neat.”
Like Coby, Santos was strongly looking forward to competing in the UNOH Battle At The Beach.
“When NASCAR announced the Daytona event, I think that’s a place all drivers want to go and race,” Santos said. “It’s something that I definitely wanted to do.”
And also like Coby, he was without a ride for the big race.
Santos is locked into the UNOH Battle At The Beach modified feature by virtue of his wins in the last two races of the 2012 Whelen Modified Tour season at Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson Int’l Speedway with the No. 44 Tinio Motorsports team.
But with Tinio planning to take on the full Whelen Modified Tour schedule for the first time in 2013, the team needed to focus on preparing for the coming campaign and could not make the trip to Daytona with Santos. That’s where Santos’ relationships bridged the gap to get him the UNOH Battle At The Beach opportunity.
Santos’ father, Bob, is friends with Mike Stefanik’s crew chief with the No. 22 team, Brad Lafontaine. That started the ball rolling for Santos to reach an agreement with No. 22 team owner Chris Our to drive their back-up car in Daytona, with the support of his regular No. 44 car owner Sully Tinio.
Santos will pilot a No. 44 team car to Stefanik’s No. 22 in Daytona.