UNOH Battle at the Beach proves the fastest car doesn’t always win

Patrick Smith

Doug Coby took the win in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour portion of the UNOH Battle at the Beach on the Daytona Superstretch, but was not necessarily the fastest car of the evening.

Ryan Preece led 147 of the 150 laps, but did not take home the $20,000 paycheck and most importantly is not able to call himself a winner at Daytona.

Preece faced a minimal amount of challenges for the lead throughout the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour portion of the UNOH Battle at the Beach held on part of the Daytona International Speedway Superstretch on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, damage from contact with the slower car of Dave Sapienza prevented him from holding the lead on the final restart relegating him to a fourth place finish.

"When the left rear got bent we were a sitting duck," said Preece.  "I'm not happy about it, but I'm not going to sit here and cry about it.  Just have to go on to the next race and try and win."

Sapienza had moved from the 26th and final starting spot and climbed as high as seventh before contact on the prior restart damaged the front of his Modified.  Sapienza spoke with SB Nation after the race and said he was going to pull off the track the following lap, but when the leaders approached him Preece swept down and he had nowhere to go.

Preece noted that it was not the only hard time he had with lapped traffic and attributed some of it to the track's temporary layout.

"It's such a tough track, (slower cars) would either lift five car lengths too early or they would drive it in on you; they wouldn't give you a lane.  I don't know if other people had that problem, but I know I had a couple close calls a couple times and that one was just the icing on the cake.  I almost got spun completely.  I was lucky I kept going straight so it is what it is."

Another competitor that appeared to have one of the fastest cars was Timmy Solomito. The Long Islander ran second to Preece during the early going, but was forced to pit and lost three laps in the process.

"I've never had a car that was that good," Solomito said. "We were trying to save it (early on).  We did the best we could.  They knew we were here, and that's the main thing."

Taking advantage of his fellow competitors' hard luck was 2012 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby, who took the lead on the final restart en route to the victory.  It was the second win in a row for the Mike Smeriglio team, Coby's first race in their seat.

"(Preece's) car was wobbling as he was coming to the green so I knew when he went into turn one he wasn't going to have great forward drive coming off," Coby explained regarding the final restart. "He kind of missed the corner, (Patrick Emerling, who was running second at the time) got sideways and bopped Ryan a little bit, and I was just turning left and putting my foot down and seeing what would happen and ended up getting the lead."

Regarding the outcome-changing incident in the closing laps, Coby had a similar view to Preece as to what had occurred.

"It seemed like (Sapienza) sped up going into that corner, and really socked Ryan pretty good," Coby added.  "Ryan did an amazing job hanging on to it."

In the end, Coby summed up what turned out to be the main storyline for the 150 lap race.

"You can have the winning car, but when all is said and done you've got to be the guy that crosses the finish line first."

A one-on-one interview with the 2014 UNOH Battle at the Beach winner can be found below.

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