COBY DELIVERS ON
EXPECTATIONS FOR WHELEN MODIFIED CROWN
For Driver Secures Long-Awaited First For Team
is a virtue.” “Good things come to those who wait.”
“Great works are performed not be strength but by
Pick your favorite quote about fortitude. Chances
are, it will apply to Doug Coby, the driver whose
enduring patience has resulted in two NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour championships in the last three years.
In an age where rising stock car racers emerge
seemingly younger by the year, Coby didn’t get a
shot in a championship-caliber ride until age 32. It
was an opportunity, at one point, he thought may
The Milford, Connecticut, native made his first
Whelen Modified Tour start in 2002 at 23 and his
first full-time season was 2004. While he competed
with only two different teams up through the 2007
campaign, Coby had yet to reach his potential.
Eventually instability set in.
Coby spent the 2008-10 seasons bouncing around from
team to team, making spot starts here and there with
no real direction. It was during that period,
however, that Coby actually felt that he became more
stable as a driver.
“Right around the time when I turned 30, I felt that
I was at the top of my game driving a modified,”
Coby said. “I had made a couple of changes like
where I was working and how I was approaching life
and approaching racing. I knew my attitude was in
the right spot for me to start driving better.”
Instead of getting impatient or discouraged at the
lack of stability in when he was racing and who he
was racing for, Coby embraced the opportunity to
learn more about different teams and cars, and to
showcase his talent.
“I was really comfortable in the car, comfortable at
the different tracks we were racing at, and I really
got to explore a lot of different teams by driving
one or two races a year for a bunch of different
people,” Coby said. “That promoted me a lot to the
series, which allowed for different opportunities to
come my way.”
In 2011 Coby latched on with Darling Racing and ran
a full season for the first time in five years. A
fifth place finish in the final standings was the
best of his career to that point. One year later he
was a champion.
After a runner-up finish in his title defense, Coby
moved to Mike Smeriglio III Racing for the 2014
season. Expectations were high. Very high. The MSIII
team was itching for a title, and Smeriglio
identified Coby as the driver to succeed in that
"There was a plan in place from Mike to pull all of
the pieces that he would need to put a championship
team together," Coby said. "From the first time that
we all sat down together, winning a championship was
kind of what we set out to do from the beginning."
Even though Coby had matured, had proven that he
could win a title, and had confidence that he was at
his peak; the new situation was a lot of pressure.
"That was kind of the nerves that I had of coming to
the team," Coby said. "I was brought to the team to
do a specific thing: to win a championship. In the
beginning that kind of made me think, 'What if this
doesn't happen?' Not only what if it doesn't happen
this year, but what if it doesn't happen at all?
What if this whole experiment is a failure?
“I could kind of tell pretty quickly, from what I
knew of (crew chief) Phil Moran and the equipment
they were bringing on board, that we were going to
have everything we needed to win a championship. But
I know from my own experience that you can’t count
on all of that stuff coming to fruition.”
All of the elements came together exactly as planned
though, and in immediate fashion. Coby drove the No.
2 Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer Repair/HEX Performance
Chevrolet to victory in the pre-season UNOH Battle
At The Beach on the temporary short track at Daytona
International Speedway in their very first race
together. The points season that followed included
another win at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway
and consistent top finishes that saw the No. 2 sit
outside the top five only four times in 13 races.
“We thought we had a good team on paper and we
backed it up with our performance. That was really
important to all of us,” Coby said. “Everybody may
have talked about us as being a championship
contender, but we actually went out and did it, and
that was a really cool feeling for us throughout the
So even though the mission was accomplished, the
expectations that were formed last winter when the
Coby-Smeriglio partnership came together, well,
they’re not going away anytime soon.
“I want people to look at the 2 car, and look at me
driving it, and say if you want to win a points
championship then it’s going to go through us,” Coby
said of his expectations heading into a 2015 title
Now five years beyond what he originally identified
as the peak of his racing acumen, and with two
championships to his credit, Coby has another
opportunity to self-evaluate.
“I feel like right now at 35, I’m the same driver
that I was at 30, I just have better opportunities
now to show that,” Coby said.
Coby will be formally crowned as just the fifth
multi-time titlist in Whelen Modified Tour history
when he receives the championship ring and trophy at
the NASCAR Touring Series Awards on Dec. 13 in the
Charlotte (North Carolina) Convention Center at the
NASCAR Hall of Fame.
CHAMPION CAR OWNER:
Mike Smeriglio III
NASCAR is a passion-driven sport. Passion from the
competitors, from the team personnel, and especially
from the fans. Few bring more passion than
newly-minted NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion
car owner Mike Smeriglio III.
One of the best brand ambassadors in the Whelen
Modified Tour garage, Smeriglio’s effervescent
demeanor and willingness to help out in any way he
can buoys his team as well as the entire tour
contingent. It’s not uncommon for Smeriglio to loan
a back-up car to a competing team that encountered
issues and was in danger of not being able to
participate in a race, or to give an opportunity for
a younger driver to race a second team entry.
“The people in the garage, the officials, the track
owners; it’s my second family,” Smeriglio said. “You
treat those the way you want to be treated back.
I’ve always been given a lot of respect in this
series, and because of that it’s my way of giving
The relationships he has forged on the Whelen
Modified Tour are the effect, but Smeriglio’s
passion is the cause.
“It’s a level of NASCAR that I always wanted to be a
part of,” Smeriglio said. “That goes back to my
early days at Danbury. It’s what my dad had a
passion for and it was in my blood from a young age.
I just love the sport. I just love the modifieds.”
Smeriglio’s first exposure to stock car racing came
at the now defunct Danbury Racearena in his native
Connecticut at the age of four. His father was
involved with a couple of different teams there, and
it was a standing Saturday night appointment for
Smeriglio through his teens.
The experience left an indelible impression.
“That’s where the love of the sport originated for
me,” Smeriglio said. “Outside of family and
business, my next passion is NASCAR.”
An accountant and financial planner, Smeriglio’s
entry point into NASCAR racing on the other side of
the fence came in the late 1990s when he became the
owner of Frank Wainwright’s SK Modified team at
another famed Connecticut oval, Stafford Motor
Speedway. When Wainwright retired, Smeriglio
co-owned the No. 47 Stafford SK with various drivers
until an opportunity came along to go tour racing.
A resident of Greenwich, Connecticut, Smeriglio
bought his first Whelen Modified Tour car from the
No. 50 team that was closing up shop two years after
a championship with driver Todd Szegedy. Smeriglio
was able to attain Szegedy for his new No. 2 Mike
Smeriglio III Racing team for their first season
together in 2006.
Smeriglio finished as the championship runner-up
twice with Szegedy, and had five other seasons in
the top five of the final standings, but they were
never able to break through for the title. After 10
wins together, the pairing parted ways after the
2013 season and Smeriglio went out and got Doug
Coby, a driver just one year removed from his first
For the financial planner Smeriglio, it was an
investment that provided immediate returns: the
And Smeriglio’s valuation of the asset he invested
“Doug Coby really is the complete package as a
driver,” Smeriglio said. “He’s talented, smart,
calculated, easy on the equipment, and he’s always
there at the end. He may not lead all of the laps,
but when the checkered flag nears, he’s always in
the best position that he’s been in for the entire
Coby may have been the final piece to Smeriglio’s
puzzle, but one piece already in place took great
satisfaction in seeing the mission finally
accomplished, the No. 2 team’s veteran crew chief
“To win the championship for him is great,” Moran
said. “He’s finished second, third and fourth in the
points before, so to see the joy in his face in the
last race at Thompson was just incredible. It was
really, really good to win it for him, and to win it
for the guys that have been with Mike for a long
time and have been close before.”
Moran has great respect for his boss, who takes a
hands-off approach when it comes to the technical
aspects of the team, and serves in more of a coach
“Working for him is incredible,” Moran said. “He’s
the best kind of boss you could ever want mainly
because he has the trust in me and the team to do
what we need to do.
“He’s very competitive. He wants to win practice, he
wants to win time trials and he wants to win the
race, but he’s very upbeat all of the time. He never
Smeriglio’s resolve has been tested through his
journey to this first title though. He had the
championship within reach in the 2011 finale, but a
late-race accident ended the dream.
“That was the most difficult one to swallow, but you
hear it often that you have to lose one to win one,”
Smeriglio said. “Well, I’ve lost two, so hopefully
we’ll win a second one to make up for it.”
For a person as passionate and as driven as
Smeriglio, there will certainly be some time to
reflect on this year’s accomplishments, but he’s
also more than ready to turn the page.
“I’m really looking forward to the banquet and
celebrating with the guys, and as much as I am
excited about what took place in 2014, I’m even more
excited about the opportunity in 2015,” Smeriglio
said. “I think we’ve got a great package, and we’re
making the team even better moving forward.”
CHAMPION CREW CHIEF:
Long considered one of the elite crew chiefs on the
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the case for that
exclusive status was significantly bolstered in 2014
when Phil Moran added a second tour title to his
A second championship, which came with a different
driver and car owner, and in a different era of
Whelen Modified Tour competition.
Originally from Preston, Connecticut, Moran got his
start in NASCAR modified racing in 1985 with car
owner Art Barry and driver Greg Sacks. He’s attained
varied experience along the way, including his first
Whelen Modified Tour title in 2003 with driver Todd
Szegedy and car owner Don Barker.
Barker sold his team to Mike Smeriglio III after the
2005 season and Moran went to work for Chassis
Dynamics before eventually returning to the tour to
work with Szegedy and Smeriglio and manage the
team’s shop in Newtown, Connecticut.
In 2014, Moran was able to lead this team to its
first Whelen Modified Tour title with Doug Coby
behind the wheel.
“Doug is very meticulous, he thinks out every race,”
Moran said. “We’ll talk about strategy before the
race starts and nine times out of 10 we’re on the
same page. That’s a big thing for us to be on the
same page. Usually we’re right on the money right
out of the box as far as what we’re going to do for
Being on that same page showed in the results. The
team posted a tour-high 12 top 10 finishes across
the 13-race season.
“The consistency that we had with Doug was a lot
better,” Moran said. “We finished consistently in
the top five – we only had four finishes out of the
top five – so that was the biggest significance to
With the championship-winning team remaining intact,
Moran feels confident in a title defense.
“There are a lot of good teams out there; Ryan
Preece is going to be tough with his new deal, Woody
Pitkat is going to be tough, but we’re going to be
tough too,” Moran said. “We know that we’re going to
be a team to be reckoned with right out of the
Moran certainly isn’t going to rest on the team’s
2014 laurels though. They’re making a full team
switch in chassis from Troyer to LFR, and they will
utilize the spec engine for a number of races to
complement their two Bob Bruneau built motors.
“You’ve got to keep on moving forward to be the
best,” Moran said. “We’re just getting the best
bullet in our gun that we can get.”
Smeriglio entrusts Moran for all racing related
decision the team makes. The aforementioned major
changes for next season following a championship are
a perfect example.
“My business is as an accountant and financial
planner, and I don’t have any sophisticated or
technical knowledge as it pertains to race cars, so
I give complete reign of the racing side of the
operation to Phil, and I couldn’t be more proud of
what he has done for the No. 2 team,” Smeriglio
said. “He’s been the best crew chief that I’ve ever
had and hopefully we both retire together.”
Source: Jason Cunningham / NASCAR
December 4, 2014