Long considered one of the elite crew chiefs on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the case for that exclusive status was significantly bolstered in 2016 when Phil Moran added a fourth tour title to his résumé.
Originally from Preston, Connecticut, Moran got his start in NASCAR modified racing in 1985 with car owner Art Barry and driver Greg Sacks. He’s attained varied experience along the way, including his first Whelen Modified Tour title in 2003 with driver Todd Szegedy and car owner Don Barker.
Barker sold his team to Michael Smeriglio III after the 2005 season and Moran went to work for Chassis Dynamics before eventually returning to the tour to work with Szegedy and Smeriglio and manage the team’s shop in Newtown, Connecticut.
In 2014, Moran was able to lead this team to its first Whelen Modified Tour title with Doug Coby behind the wheel. In 2015 he successfully defended the Championship and in 2016 he pulled a “three-peat” helping Doug Coby to become only the fifth driver in NASCAR Modifieds history to win four or more championships.
“Doug is very meticulous, he thinks out every race,” Moran said. “We’ll talk about strategy before the race starts and nine times out of 10 we’re on the same page. That’s a big thing for us to be on the same page. Usually we’re right on the money right out of the box as far as what we’re going to do for a race.”
Being on that same page has showed in their results.
“The chemistry and communications we have on this team are two key ingredients to our success.” Moran said. In their four years together they have 11 wins, 11 poles, 26 top 5’s and 33 top 10’s.
“We finish consistently in the top five so that is of huge significance to a championship winning team.”
With the championship-winning team remaining intact, Moran feels confident of their continued success.
“There are a lot of good teams out there; Ryan Preece is going to be tough with his new deal, Timmy Solomito and Justin Bonsignore are going to be tough, but we’re going to be tough too,” Moran said. “We know that we’re going to be a team to be reckoned with right out of the truck.”
Moran certainly isn’t going to rest on the team’s laurels though.
“You’ve got to keep on moving forward to be the best,” Moran said. “We’re just getting the best bullet in our gun that we can get.”
Smeriglio entrusts Moran for all racing related decisions the team makes.
“My business is as an accountant and financial planner, and I don’t have any sophisticated or technical knowledge as it pertains to race cars, so I give complete reign of the racing side of the operation to Phil, and I couldn’t be more proud of what he has done for the No. 2 team,” Smeriglio said. “He’s been the best crew chief that I’ve ever had and hopefully we both retire together.”