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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The dominoes continued to fall Wednesday in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour “Silly Season” as Mike Smeriglio III Racing announced it has reached an agreement with 2012 champion Doug Coby to fill the vacant seat of its No. 2 modified.
Coby, from Milford, Conn., moves over to MSR after three stellar seasons with the No. 52 Darling Racing Team that produced eight victories and three top-five points finishes, highlighted by the 2012 championship season.
MSR announced on Nov. 8 that it had parted ways with driver Todd Szegedy, just days after it was reported that the Darling team Coby drove for was scaling back to a part-time schedule for the upcoming season.
MSR crew chief and team manager Phil Moran confirmed the hiring of Coby Wednesday evening.
“We’re really, really looking forward to working with Doug,” Moran said. “Doug doesn’t have anything to prove to me. He’s got a great reputation as a good, clean driver and that’s what we’re looking for.
“We’re going to be doing some new things from a technical standpoint, we’ve got a brand new 2014 Troyer car we’re going to run that will be on display at the upcoming PRI Show, so we’re really excited about the coming season.”
Moran confirmed that MSR’s first race with Coby in the No. 2 will be the UNOH Battle At The Beach on the short track at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February.
The move to MSR for Coby gave him the assurance of a full-time ride for the coming season.
“We were working on a plan [with Darling] to go full-time once again, but there was a little bit of indecisiveness,” Coby said. “The biggest need I have as a driver is stability. When you have the opportunity to move to another team that has comparable equipment and that has that stability factor, that’s important to me.”
Coby said he agonized over the decision to ultimately leave the team he had found so much success with the last few seasons.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Coby said of reaching a decision on his future. “I’ve had sleepless nights trying to make a decision based on so many different things, but it just got down to crunch time and I owed it to both teams to let them know what I felt was the best thing to do.”
Owner of nine wins and 66 top 10s in 114 starts, he endured four years of part-time completion prior joining forces with Darling in 2011, and didn’t want to chance slipping back into a race-to-race situation.
“It has nothing to do with equipment or people, because the 52 team is phenomenal, but it really is a stability thing,” Coby said. “I feel like the 2 team is a really stable opportunity for me to move along in racing, and I’m really excited for that opportunity.”
The 2014 season will launch for the second year in a row with the non-points UNOH Battle At The Beach on Tuesday, Feb. 18. The full 2014 schedule is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.