Digging Deep With Denise: Visiting With Phil Moran

“Digging Deep With Denise” is a semi-regular question and answer feature with local racers and racing personalities produced by RaceDayCT’s Denise DuPont

Phil Moran – It has been a fun ride

Like so many of the current NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour family, crew chief Phil Moran’s father started him on the path of building his race dream. With encouragement and mentoring from Art Barry, Moran has built a reputation as a seasoned Modified crew chief. He has moved from sweeping the floor to turning the wrenches and finding modified speed.  He is not behind the seat in the Modified but ensures that his driver, Doug Coby, has what he needs to get the job done on the track.

What made you get interested in racing?

“I grew up about two miles from Art Barry, who is a legend in his own realm. So, I lived near Art and my dad would take me over there when I was about 13 years old. And I started playing around and helping out – sweeping, lettering the tires for the race car for him and that is what got me the racing bug itch. I think I was 14 years old when he took me to Martinsville for the first time and snuck me in the pits. I have had the bug ever since. ”

What attracts you to Modified racing?

“I tried, I went down south for five years and worked on [NASCAR Cup Series] cars down there. I think that it is more the comradery with the Modifieds – the MRS series, Tri-Track or the Tour. It is a lot more relaxed atmosphere and there is not as much pressure as there is down south. I grew up with the Modifieds and that is where I started. I went down there and came back to what I loved and the modified family.” 

Working with the #10 Doug Coby Racing Modified team?

“It is basically the same guys as the #2 [Mike Smeriglio Racing] team, except Mike Smeriglio is not here anymore and a couple of other guys left when Mike left. But we do not have the fancy, glitzy trailer any more but we have everything that we need with this little trailer. Doug bought one of the cars which made it an easier transition. Fortunately we are still in the same shop with the same equipment with the great help of Mayhew Tools and all of our product sponsors that came on board with us when we were with Mike and the #2 team that followed us to the [new] team.  It just showed that we are doing something right and they wanted to stay on our side that has been a great help that way. It is just the number change on the door. I do not care what number we have on the door. I just work on it and make it go fast. And I love Doug, he is a great driver. We have become close friends over the last six or seven years. It has been fun.” 

Would you say racing is your hobby? Your Job? Or your life?

“Racing is all three. It is my hobby, my job and my life. I am fortunate enough to do this and get paid for it to be able to do it as a living. I have been full time on a car since 1985, since the Modified Tour inception. I have been fortunate in a way. ” 

What racing memory stands out above them all?

“Winning Martinsville with Brett Bodine driving the car for Art Barry. It was the year after Richie [Evans] had gotten killed. We bought the car that was built for Richie for the 1986 season. So we bought that car and it went to Martinsville for what then called the Dogwood race back then. And we won that race. That still stands out in my head and it was really cool to do that.”

What challenges do crew chiefs have with the tour?

“Going fast. It is a lot different than it used to be. Everybody has a cookie cutter setup. Everybody has a spec engine, an LFR or a Fury Chassis, and everyone has the same tires. So it really comes down the crew chief and the driver. So there is a lot more pressure on us to make the car go fast, instead of buying everything and here you go – it goes fast. It is more on the crew chief to get the car right and make it go fast.” 

What is your goal for 2021?

“Get some luck on our side. The first part of this year has been tough luck wise. Getting into the ownership part with Doug. With Doug being the owner and having a new team has been a challenge. Everyone thinks that it is the same team, but it is not, there is a lot more involved with it. But we are getting it. We will finish top three in points if we do not win it the 2021 Championship. With Doug missing that one race for SRX race, it sort of hurt us a little bit. But we are still there in the owner points. Unfortunately in this world the owner gets all the money. So if we win the ownership points it is not as prestigious on the stage but it is in the checking account and it will help seed next year.” 

If you had to do it all over again, would you?

“Yes, I would. I would not change it for the world. I have met a lot of great people, had a lot of relationships with a lot of great people. So I definitely would not change it for the world. It has been a fun ride.” 


  1. Full time on Modified’s since 1985, Wow He has seen it all, been there done that…. The knowledge He has must but Incredible. His set up note book must be something to behold…. Phil is the MAN in the North East along with Ryan Stone, but with CUP EXPERIENCE …… ART Barry is Amazing. If you have never seen His cars up close, it’s worth the price of a PIT PASS, He was one of the FIRST to POWDER COAT the Chassis and roll cage,, The welds are TEXTBOOK. Basically you can eat off any place on the car it is always IMMACULATE , CLEAN as a Whistle, OH Yeah Won TON”S of races TOO SPAFCO chassis is His Brand …. Him and Boehler and maybe Reg & Flemke are only David’s left , Goliath’s Fury , LFR have taken over most shops… Now His Grandson is getting lot’s of seat time, He will soon be on Tour in a few years, something to look forward too…. !!!!

  2. The Atomic Punk says

    Speaking of Art Barry cars. Check out the gold 21 that Magic Shoes drove in 1992 I believe. Its not a car its a work of art….By Art.

  3. Atomic Punk,,That COORS Sherri cup Car Was brought up on this site last year !!! And it is my Favorite and many others favorite as Well.. Some one even posted a link with a good picture Black and Gold Coors Car. !!!

  4. ” It is just the number change on the door. I do not care what number we have on the door. I just work on it and make it go fast. ”

    .” With Doug being the owner and having a new team has been a challenge”

    So what is it just a number change with a small trailer or a new team with new challenges?.

    “Everybody has a cookie cutter setup. Everybody has a spec engine, an LFR or a Fury Chassis, and everyone has the same tires. ”

    Well yes and no. It’s the same formula but some teams have closer relationships with the chassis builders, newer versions from newer cooked cutters, more of everything including backups and more support people and resources to back the front line troops. That brings me to my point.
    People who are the focus of stores here frequently monitor the responses. If that’s that’s the case here I’d ask Mr. Moran who I am every bit as much a fan of as any driver a question.
    Trying to be a subjective as possible can you say if at this stage the spec is a benefit or detriment to the success of the NWMT? Things have made a sea change since it was introduced as a cost saving measure. Since then the car counts have gone down in the NWMT and cars counts up with more events in competing tour modified series. The spec not only not popular in other series but disallowed by rules in some series.
    My questions is simple. Is it time to change the engine rules to come in line with what the rest of the tour modified racing world is doing. Allowing all kinds of more cost effective and infinitely rebuildable versions of built engines with an abundance of after market parts to choose from? Increasing the work load and creativity of local builders in the process as well as reducing one of the barriers to participation in NWMT events?

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