Change is tough on everybody. When making a life-changing or career-changing move, there will always be questions you have to ask yourself. Will the new house be better than the last? Will the new job be more rewarding and enjoyable than the previous job?
For Doug Coby, his tough decision came following the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season.
Following his runner-up performance with car owner Wayne Darling that season, Coby was forced to make a difficult decision. He decided to leave the team that he won a tour championship with in 2012 and made the decision to join Mike Smeriglio Racing full-time for the 2014 season.
“The hardest part of the season was before the season began. It was making the decision to leave an organization with (Darling) that I had grown to love,” Coby told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “It was the toughest decision I’ve ever made in racing.”
It’s safe to say that Coby’s decision, despite how tough it was for him at first, paid off.
In his first race driving the No. 2 MSIII Racing Modified, Coby went out and won the NWMT portion of the Battle at the Beach at Daytona International Speedway (FL). He, crew chief Phil Moran and the rest of the team turned their Daytona success into a successful season that concluded with Coby celebrating his second NWMT championship in three years at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) on Sunday.
On their way to the championship, they finished in the top-10 in all but one of the 13 races on the 2014 schedule. They completed all but one lap, and they scored a dominating win at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) in June.
“I think for us the ‘happy factor’ is that we just came out of the gate top five every race,” Coby said “There has not been a race that I have driven this car that I have not raced in the top five in that race.”
Coby’s consistency throughout the year had everyone wondering if he would ever falter.
“Everybody was just waiting,” he said. “They were all saying that the 2 has to have their bad week at some point.”
Fortunately for Coby (and unfortunately for his competition), they saved their bad race until the very last race of the season at Thompson. Coby hit the wall on the exit of turn two with just a few laps to go and suffered a flat tire. He stopped in turn three to bring out the caution and was penalized one lap by NASCAR. He finished 17h, one lap down.
“I guess I didn’t want to achieve all of our goals this year so I went and hit the fence and knocked the right-front off the thing,” Coby said jokingly. “I was like, ‘Yeah, we don’t need a top-10.’ I’m actually really pissed off about that.
“We had a hell of a weekend. Everything was working against us it seemed. We persevered and did what we had to do. The (championship) is what we are here for. They kept saying big picture over the radio. I was a little crabby and was getting a little frustrated, but to get out of here with a championship is really cool for everybody on the team.”
While he may have been frustrated with how the final race went, it was obvious just how thrilled Coby was with how their whole season played out. From a win at Daytona to celebrating a championship at Thompson, Coby couldn’t have planned the season out any better than how it unfolded.
“I’m just happy that the work these guys put in paid off,” he said. “It’s about the sacrifices. That’s why the championship means so much. To pay back everybody for the sacrifices they make.”
Despite having a team that he knew was capable of winning a championship, he has been around racing long enough to know that bad luck can strike at any time and get in the way of a team’s chemistry.
“You just never know how things are going to work,” he said. “It’s just whether you have that racing luck. You could have the best equipment and the best car owner, driver, crew chief, but you might have those bad days where a guy spins right in front of you and you rip the right front
off. And you might have those four races in a row.”
Coby also knows that he’ll be with this team for quite some time, and stability is something he’s sought after for a while. He’s done the role of part-time driver in the past. He’s even gone home from races because he failed to qualify. At the age of 35, Coby finally feels that he’s found his home in racing.
“To me, for a couple races I was driving Todd Szegedy’s car,” Coby said. “Now it’s my car. This is my team. These are my guys. The championship is for all of them. They deserve it. Good shit.”
Now Coby, who works as a real estate agent, is focused on making another move. But this time around, the move won’t be affecting his racing.
“I’m actually buying a house for me this week and selling my own house,” said Coby. “So that’s going through my brain. I’ve got a big move coming up and I’ve got a lot of shit to do to get ready for it.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, CT and NJ) -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Feature Photo Credit: Speed51.com.