Whelen Modified Tour Championship Team Spotlight: Crew Chief Phil Moran

(Press Release from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)

Phil Moran (left) with driver Doug Coby (right)

Phil Moran (left) with driver Doug Coby (right) (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

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 résumé

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 a race.”

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 this championship.”

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 truck.”

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.”

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