NEWTOWN, Mass. (October 13, 2014) – After nine years of racing in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Mike Smeriglio III is as close as he’s ever been to securing his first series championship. The team owner is cautiously excited as he takes the No. 2 Dunleavy’s Repair/Hex Performance Chevrolet race team to Thompson Speedway for the season finale race on October 19.
The MSIII Racing team has consistently secured top finishes throughout this season. Driver Doug Coby, a former series champion, has finished in the top-5 in every race except for three. In those three races, he finished sixth, eighth and 10th.
“This season with Doug (Coby) has been more than I’ve anticipated,” said Smeriglio. “He’s a very confident, calculated and calm driver. It’s beyond my expectations. I was hoping to be a championship contender; I wasn’t planning on leading the points for more than half the season.”
The team kicked off the 2014 race season with a win at Daytona International Speedway in the Battle at the Beach non-points event.
“When we were running at the Battle at the Beach and having a top-5 car and Doug was putting himself in position to win — that was a big eye opener for me,” said Smeriglio. “Once we secured a first, second and third place finish in the first three races of the season, I started to realize what we had in place.”
MSIII Racing first lead the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points standings after Stafford, the third race in the season. The team dropped to second in the standings after a 10th place finish at Waterford. At the next race at Riverhead in June, the team was back to the top of the standings and has been leading the way ever since.
“Everyone in our series knows how difficult it is to win races, let alone championships,” said Coby. “The reason we all teamed up is to chase a championship. That’s why we do this. I knew we were going to be a contending team after the win at Stafford. We managed a 10th place finish at Waterford after being involved in an accident. So we discussed it and said if bad days are going to be a 10th place finish, then that’s pretty good.”
Crew chief Phil Moran has been with Smeriglio since the team started racing in the NWMT in 2006. Moran won his only series championship a few years prior 2003 with driver Todd Szegedy.
“This season has been incredible,” Moran said. “Doug is very smart with the car; he never puts the car in trouble. If we have a fifth place car, we finish fifth with it. He has a lot of knowledge of the cars because he works on them himself and he communicates changes easily to the team.”
MSIII Racing and Doug Coby have strong records at Thompson Speedway. This season alone, the No. 2 race team has secured a pair of third-place finishes at the high-banked oval. Coby will need to finish 24th or better in the race to win the championship. The team is leading Ted Christopher by 28 points in the standings heading into the season finale.
“I think that experience dictates that you do what you always do,” said Coby about the upcoming race. “There’s no reason for us to do anything different. We’ve run well at Thompson all year. This has been three years in a row that I’m going for a championship at this race – but it’s been three different approaches. I’m going to revert back to know who you’re racing with, who’s around you and give that little extra room on the track.”
The Sunoco World Series 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park is scheduled take place on Sunday, Oct. 19 at 3:45 p.m. ET.
-MSIII Press Release. -Photo Credit: Rick Ibsen/Speed51.com.