THOMPSON, CT – When it was announced prior to the 2014 season that Doug Coby had teamed with crew chief Phil Moran and car owner Mike Smeriglio III, they became instant favorites to win the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Championship.
On Sunday afternoon, as the sun began to set on Ct’s Thompson Motorsports Park that belief became reality as the Milford, Conn., driver earned a second championship in three years, despite his worst finish of the 13 race season.
“I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get a top ten,” Coby admitted. “No champion has ever finished in the top ten on the Modified Tour during their championship season. We were in position to do that.
“With just a couple of laps to go I bopped the wall up there off of turn two and flattened the right front tire, and then got penalized for deliberately bringing out a caution.”
That miscue was the only one all season, as up until the final few laps of the final race of the season, Coby had completed every lap, recording nine top five finishes in 12 starts. The memory of that disappointment should fade quickly, as Coby is honored as NWMT Champion in Charlotte, N.C., on December 13.
“We wanted to win races and contend for wins,” Coby noted. “We won one race in the tour season, but we did win Daytona (FL.) too. We had top four finishes at both Loudon (New Hampshire) and Bristol (Tenn.). Those are our big races and we were contending at every one of those.
“I never felt the pressure to win a championship. It’s in the back of our mind. Our car owner is a cheerleader for us and he wants to win so bad. He’ll do whatever it takes- give us everything we need to accomplish it.
” Fortunately for Coby and the Smeriglio team, they had built an advantage in the season standings so that barring a major failure the title was all but locked up at the drop of the green flag on the 150-lap season finale.
With this title comes some bad news for the rest of the NWMT teams, as both Coby and Moran talked after the race about their plan of continuing to strive for excellence on the tour not just in the short term, but for many years to come.
“This isn’t a two or three year deal with us,” Coby said. “We’re building a program here that’s designed to win races everywhere we go.”