Ride Hunting: Doug Coby Readying Plans For Next Seat On NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

Phil Moran (arms raised) and Doug Coby celebrate winning the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title last month at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

Since 2014 Doug Coby’s home on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour has been with Mike Smeriglio Racing. 

But some might forget, before spending the last six seasons creating a series dynasty with team owner Mike Smeriglio III and crew chief Phil Moran, Coby was a driver who spent many years jumping from ride to ride with the Whelen Modified Tour. 

And having that understanding of how to find a new place to race has the six-time Whelen Modified Tour champion avoiding panic when it comes to finding a ride for the 2020 season to defend his 2019 championship. 

It was announced Tuesday that Smeriglio would be retiring as a car owner and shutting down his team. Coby joined the team in 2014 and won the series championship every season but 2018 in his span with the organization. Nineteen of Coby’s 28 career Whelen Modified Tour victories have come driving for Smeriglio since 2014.

“I’ve been in this situation before and I’ve been in a far worse spot when this has happened to me before,” Coby told RaceDayCT exclusively Tuesday morning. “To have a couple great sponsors and a lot of dedicated crew people that want to work with me just says a lot about the last six to eight years of my life and how things have gone. 

“This sucks. Mike is a very rare type of person as a car owner. I don’t know that that can be replicated. I guess I have to be prepared that it’s not going to be the same. But there’s a lot of opportunities when things change, people talk, people get ideas and all of the sudden new stuff happens. We’ll see. It’s a little bit surprising. But I’m a pro at this.” 

Coby said the intention right now is to find a situation where his entire team, including Moran and his crew return together. 

“Out intention is to keep the entire team together,” Coby said. “Phil and I have talked about this day for the last probably three or four years because we knew it was coming. We’re a little surprised that it happened this year. We’ve always said that we’re committed to each other. Basically like I know there’s going to be offers for him and there’s going to be offers for me. But we’re looking for an offer for the two of us, along with most of our crew if possible. That might not be realistic, but anybody comes at either one of us is going to have to understand that we’ve kind of decided that we would have a say in what each other does.” 

Coby said he already has commitments from sponsors Mayhew Tools and Reynolds Auto Wrecking for next season. Coby said he has gotten a vote of confidence from Mayhew Tools president John Lawless. 

“He’s really happy with me and really happy with his involvement with our team and pretty confident that I’m smart enough to put us in a good position with wherever we go next,” Coby said. 

Coby said the hope is to find someone to essentially buy Smeriglio’s team. 

“The biggest difference between me and Phil is that this is Phil’s full-time job,” Coby said. “I’m certainly not going to be in a position from stopping him from taking him that is truly a good fit for him. But we’re both kind of like old dogs at our craft in a sense and just anything isn’t going to work for either of us. It’s got to be the right fit. We’ve got some ideas and we’ve got some phone calls to make pretty quickly here. Something could be wrapped up shortly. … Ideally we would love to find somebody that wants to own a Modified Tour team and wants to – maybe not buy all of the equipment – but some of the equipment and then needs a driver and a crew chief and a crew. That’s the ideal situation.” 

Smeriglio said the time has come to focus more on family and less on racing. 

“We’re all still raw with it all,” Smeriglio told RaceDayCT Tuesday. 
“But it’s the right thing for me at this time in my life. My family is so important to me. But also, I want to make sure that [the race team continues] to do what they do best. Phil’s livelihood is the most important piece to me. And second close is Doug’s ability to go on and win many more championships.” 

Smeriglio said he will assist the best he can in finding the ideal situation to keep the team together. 

“The goal is to have Phil and Doug continue what they’ve created with the [our] team,” Smeriglio said. “That’s the No. 1 goal. How that happens, where it happens, when it happens – it’s still all pretty raw for all of us quite honestly. I don’t have all those answers. The biggest goal is to keep Phil and Doug united.” 

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  1. Ray Skoglund says

    Hopefully the will find a buyer.
    If not, they will all still be remembered as class individuals and team.

  2. HHhhmmm… If I could only lay my hands on a high dollar lottery ticket… Good luck to all parties in their future endeavors!

  3. Pee Dee Excavation says

    Maybe Pee Dee moves to Connecticut with two cars.

  4. Captain Obvious says

    Well I, Captain Obvious, believe that the obvious choice would be Rob Fuller getting control of the team and making it the LFR house car out of their shop. Obviously LFR stands to be the biggest loser in a Doug/Phil split so it would be a very wise long term investment for LFR to keep it intact.

    The only other choice for I, Captain Obvious, is Dave Sapienza taking the feud with Bonsignore to the Next Level and adding the 2 team to his stable to get the last laugh on 2019’s most talked about rivalry.

    Until next time, Captain Obvious awaaaaaay

  5. Getting a ride should be easy for Doug. Getting a new car owner to keep the existing team together might be tough to do. Wonder who will end up with that car, and if they’ll have the same success with it. Wish Doug and his crew the best. Hopefully they kand together.

  6. Hey, where’s that LFR house car? Still looking for a Crew Chief/Driver combo?

  7. Rob P. The #2 team has three cars. Going to be interesting to see how and what gets sold. Three cars, parts, motors, truck and stacker. Where does Phil end up? Working at LFR ? Silly season has started!!!!

  8. Give Ryan Newman a call…he’s interested.

  9. Phil needs to find a team that is looking for a PAID full-time Crew Chief. That shouldn’t take long to find. I mean, how many are there? Not many of those jobs ever existed on the NWMT. Tough spot for Phil. Coby needs Phil to find that unicorn job. There just aren’t those kinds of teams running anymore. And when there were, it was only a handful of the top talented/funded teams that did this. Doug needs Phil, and Doug needs to get sponsorship to cover for Phil. Doug is nothing without Phil. It will take Doug years, if ever, to get back to winning form with a new Crew Chief.

    This is going to be THE off-season side show to watch for sure.

  10. Just me, thanks for the info. With all that equipment it’s going to be tough to find a person to purchase all of it, pay Phil Moran, and keep the team together.with 3 cars in play, wonder who gets them, and if they have the success Doug and Phil had

  11. How cool is Coby? His racing status in flux and on Tuesday still had time to do his part to encourage people on more important issues.
    “Today is Election Day. And no it’s not Trump vs the world…it’s your local elections, where the people running for office will be responsible for your property taxes, your school budgets, and your town’s economic development plans. All things that directly impact YOU and your family. Your one single vote today is a MAJOR factor in local elections that will literally come down to dozens of votes separating winners from losers. If you don’t go vote today you suck. GO!”

    They’re breaking up the Beatles. Wings was good but McCartney alone was never as good as the original.

  12. Can’t believe Coby hasn’t come up with the $350k to continue his career. With all those championships, sponsorship 💰 pouring in. Should be a piece of cake. A real no-🧠er.

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