THOMPSON, Conn. – And then there were three.
With only the Sunoco-Town Fair Tire World Series left on the schedule, there are three drivers left to vie for the 2012 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway on Oct. 14: Doug Coby, Ryan Preece and reigning titlist Ron Silk.
With a 19-point lead, Coby is in the proverbial driver’s seat. The Milford, Conn., driver has registered finishes of eighth, third and 13th in the tour’s first three visits to Thompson this year. With another finish of 13th or better in the World Series, Coby will capture his first career Whelen Modified Tour title.
The 2012 title would be a crowning achievement for Coby, who has alternated between part-time and full-time status on the tour since 2002. He has two previous top-10 points finishes: seventh in 2005 and fifth a year ago.
Five wins and 10 top 10s this year have the 33-year-old Coby in position to earn his first championship of any kind since he earned titles in weekly competition at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway in 1998 (Late Model) and 2000 (Pro Stock).
At 17 and 18 points behind Coby, respectively, Preece and Silk have their work cut out for them at Thompson. But like Coby, Preece has the hunger of chasing what would be his first title while Silk has the motivation to become the first back-to-back champion since Tony Hirschman in 2004-05.
While there are many variables that would clinch the championship for any of the three contenders based on their potential finishes in the Thompson World Series, Preece and Silk will undoubtedly be looking to reach Victory Lane to gain those three additional winner’s bonus points.
Preece will also be looking for that elusive first career Thompson triumph. A winner of 10 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified features at the track this season alone, Preece has yet to find Victory Lane in 21 Whelen Modified Tour events there. He’s finished second three times and third twice, including the tour’s last visit there in September.
Silk has more of a pedigree of winning at Thompson than any of the other two contenders, having collected four checkered flags at the .625-mile oval, including the season-opening Icebreaker in April. Last year he survived a Thompson World Series full of twists and turns to celebrate his first tour title.
Whichever driver comes out on top in the championship chase, the Sunoco-Town Fair Tire World Series promises to fall in line with many of the recent Whelen Modified Tour events at Thompson: packed full of action. The previous six season-opening and season-closing events at the track have averaged eight lead changes and 10 cautions, providing plenty of excitement for competitors and fans alike.