Doug Coby says uncertainty prompted his decision to leave Darling Racing

Tyler Barrick

The 2012 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion says he defected from Darling Racing to Smeriglio III Racing to ensure that he had a full-time ride for the next five seasons.

Doug Coby says that his shocking off-season move from Darling Racing to Mike Smeriglio III Racing was a matter of both longevity and job security.

His decision was perhaps the biggest move of the NASCAR Modified silly season and produced shock on a variety of levels. First, Todd Szegedy has driven the Smeriglio No. 2 car each season since 2006. And Coby had finished in the top two of the championship in each of the past two seasons in Darling's No. 52, winning the crown in 2012.

It's a big change for all involved.

"It was one of those things where I've said all along that I could have driven that car until I retired," Coby told SB Nation on Thursday. "I liked the people that much. I liked driving the car that much. It was a great situation for anybody and I was really fortunate to be there."

But the uncertainty he faced after each season was the primary factor that led Coby to make a change.

"I want to be in a situation where I know I have a full-time ride next year at the end of the season," Coby added. "I don't want to have to wait or have to ask. So I think for me it was just the situation lent itself to the number one priority for me for the next five years is I have a ride.

"I have to protect myself that way and I think that weighed on my decision a lot."

The announcement that Darling Racing was most likely going to scale back to a part-time operation for 2014 was another key factor. Coby, 34, was a part-time driver on the Tour for the better part of six seasons. He said that reverting back to being a part-time role was out of the question.

"I feel like I kind of owe that to myself just from having been a part-time driver so long with things that weren't settled until two weeks before the Icebreaker," he said. "I kind of thought that if there was an opportunity for me to be in a position where I have a team that is going to come back every year, it's just one of those things that for me personally, that weighed a lot on the decision."

One of the larger obstacles for Coby to overcome will be learning how to communicate with his new squad. To their credit, Crew chief Phil Moran said that communication between the two has been solid.

"I know Doug really well," Moran said. "We park next to them a lot at the race track and I've watched him a lot. That's one good thing about the Modifieds. Everyone knows each other."

Coby said that he and Moran have tried to talk to each other at least once a week, even throughout the holidays. And now that the calendar has flipped to 2014, Daytona and the Battle at the Beach is just around the corner.

Coby says he's "realistically confident," but excited, especially in regards to getting back in a car.

"They pretty much dominated Daytona with Todd last year and they ended up winning with Steve (Park) so I know that we are going to have a good car," he said. "It's really good for racers to get out of Connecticut or the northeast and get down to where it's warm and get back in the car. Of course to be able to do it in Florida at Daytona is an extra bonus so we are kind of excited to go."

Additional NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour content can be accessed on the Ranting and Raving front page.

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