Moffitt on close-but-no-cigar finish: 'It sucks'
RELATED: Race results BRISTOL, Tenn. -- With only a handful of starts on his schedule, Brett Moffitt competes as if every race is a tryout. And in many ways, that's indeed the case. Called into service by Red Horse Racing to fill the seat of the organization's No. 11 Toyota earlier this year, Moffitt responded with a strong performance at Kentucky before an engine issue left him 31st, and Pocono, where he finished third. Earlier this month, Red Horse officials announced Moffitt would return for three more starts -- at Bristol, Michigan and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park . Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway , Moffitt continued to impress with a career-best runner-up finish to first-time race winner Ben Kennedy (GMS Racing) in the UNOH 200 . MORE: Kennedy: 'This is the coolest day of my life' "It's really fun running like this and being super competitive two weeks in a row now," Moffitt , 24, said. "But second place sucks. We're here to win. I'm happy but I'm not. It sucks being that close." Moffitt has Sprint Cup experience, making a handful of starts a year ago with the now-defunct Michael Waltrip Racing group before closing the season behind the wheel of the No. 34 for Front Row Motorsports . His performance was good enough to earn him Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. It wasn't, however, enough to secure him a ride for '16. Until he was called on to drive the No. 11 for Red Horse earlier this year, subbing for Matt Tifft , his NASCAR career was in a holding pattern. While his future remains uncertain -- he said there have been no conversations beyond his next two starts -- Moffitt is hoping his results lead to more opportunities. The team will carry the same truck to Michigan next week that was used at Kentucky and Pocono. "And they actually did some more work to it," he furthered, "so hopefully it's even better. "We're showing really strong, got a third place and a second place here; we just need one more. That would be a good place to win and hopefully at the road course as well." Moffitt had an opportunity at Bristol, restarting second to Kennedy for a six-lap shootout following the ninth and final caution. But Kennedy, who went from third to first with 20 laps remaining, didn't falter with the win on the line. While he closed on Kennedy's bumper, Moffitt said he couldn't get close enough to either make the pass or move the leader out of the way. Both were options he considered. "I'm going to race people the way I want to be raced," he said. "It is Bristol so if you need to move someone, you've got to move them. "I just wasn't quite good enough through the center (of the turn) to get to him. He slipped up a few times and I was able to get to his bumper once but didn't get to him hard enough. I was really waiting for him to make a mistake so I could shove my nose in there but he executed when he needed to and he hit his marks. I just wasn't able to get to him there." Daniel Hemric ( Brad Keselowski Racing), William Byron ( Kyle Busch Motorsports) and Johnny Sauter (GMS) rounded out the top five.
Last-lap pass leads Moffitt to victory at Michigan
RELATED: Full race results " Standings BROOKLYN, Mich. -- In five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts, Brett Moffitt had never led a lap. But in Saturday's Careers for Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway , Moffitt picked the perfect time to take the point for the first time. Powering around Red Horse Racing teammate Timothy Peters and five-time series winner William Byron off the second corner of the final lap at the two-mile track, Moffitt held off Peters by .098 seconds to win a NASCAR national series race for the first time. Moffitt's victory, however, left Shane Huffman, Peters' crew chief, slapping his seat on the pit box in frustration. Peters, who led a race-high 42 laps, could have locked himself into the inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase with a victory. Running a limited schedule this season, Moffitt is ineligible for the championship this year. But Moffitt made no apologies for taking advantage of the opportunity that presented itself when Byron pushed Peters into Turn 3 on the white-flag lap, cut to the inside and slowed both trucks down. Moffitt cruised around the outside off Turn 2 on the final lap and kept Peters behind him. "I'm here to win," Moffitt said. "I said it earlier and I'll say it again. I'm not going to wreck him (Peters) for it. I'm going to race him clean because I know he needs to get in the Chase, but this team needs to win and these guys deserve to win. "That's what we come to do, and our partners at Toyota want to do the same, and we got it." Daniel Hemric passed Byron on the last lap to come home third, with Byron following in fourth and Cameron Hayley in fifth. The good news for both Peters and Hemric was the wide margin both drivers opened over their closest pursuers in the race to make the Chase. Though winless this year, Hemric and Peters lead Cameron Hayley by 55 and 47 points, respectively, in the battle for the last two Chase spots. If no new winner surfaces in the final two regular-season races, both Hemric and Peters are highly likely to qualify on points. "It's a good day for Red Horse Racing," Peters said. "Congrats to Brett Moffitt . One-two finish. I wish we were 'one,' but all in all, the company brings the trophy back. The 9 (Byron) locked onto our bumper there in Turn 2 and pushed us really hard down into Turn 3. "We had to do all we had to do to stay in front. ... Tough to swallow right there, but it felt good to run the way we did all day." Both Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick entered the race needing to win to make the Chase. Reddick's Ford bounced off the side of Johhny Sauter's Chevrolet on Lap 70 and sustained heavy damage during contact with the Turn 3 wall. Custer, however, had the lead for a restart on Lap 84, only to lose control and spin into the Turn 4 wall, grazing the left rear of Moffitt's No. 11 Toyota in the process. "We didn't have the raw speed of the guys up front, but it drove pretty well, and it was hard to keep those guys off of me," Custer said. "The 11 ( Moffitt ) stopped pushing me -- which it's his right to do that. "We were kind of losing the 17 (Peters) there. He ( Moffitt ) went to the outside and I started getting tight. Once he got on my door, I got loose and over-corrected it. I just hate it for my guys that brought a great truck." Like Hayley, Custer and Reddick will have two more chances to force their way into the Chase by winning one of the final two regular-season races.
Moffitt hopes third-place run opens more doors
RELATED: Full race results LONG POND, Pa. -- Brett Moffitt finished the 2015 season as the Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year. He started the 2016 season without a ride -- in any national series. After completing his rookie campaign behind the wheel of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports ride currently inhabited by reigning XFINITY Series champion Chris Buescher, Moffitt found himself seatless heading into this season with more questions than answers regarding his career trajectory. Fill-in duty came calling earlier this month as Red Horse Racing needed a driver for its No. 11 Toyota at Kentucky, with Matt Tifft sidelined following surgery to remove a low-grade brain tumor. After starting second, an engine failure while running in the top five relegated Moffitt to a 31st-place finish. RELATED: Tifft tweets upbeat video post-surgery The 23-year-old was again behind the wheel at Pocono Raceway for Saturday's Pocono Mountains 150, carving his way through the field -- and a wreck-heavy, race-record nine cautions -- to finish third after starting 15th. Despite the lack of seat time this season, it appears Moffitt hasn't forgotten what to do when his team gives him a machine capable of competing. "We didn't make a single adjustment on it during the race; we really had a good truck. (Crew chief) Scott (Zipadelli) called a great race; great strategy. Got us up front when it mattered," Moffitt said. " … We were actually really lucky (to stay out of the wrecks). It seemed like when it happened, it would happen right in front of us, so we were able to duck to the bottom and avoid before cars get stacked up three and four-wide trying to avoid it and you get forced into a lane. "It worked out alright for us, we just saw a lot of attrition right in front of us. Part of qualifying getting rained out was that we started mid-pack and we had to do what the leaders didn't. So that's why we went with that strategy and it ended up working out, but it was a little bit nerve-wracking through the middle section of the race there." With the finish -- his best across all NASCAR national series in 43 starts -- Moffitt is hoping it results in keeping his name fresh in people's minds, as he has no other opportunities lined up at the current moment. Regardless, he'll be ready at the drop of a hat should any team, Red Horse Racing included, call him up for a spot start or more. "(Red Horse) like to keep it last minute, so I found out about a week ago Friday," he said. "It's a little stressful during that week to get everything ready and it's hard on the guys at the shop, but they do a great job adjusting to multiple drivers this year and they continue to prove that. "I don't think I've had a clear path my whole career. I've kind of been riding each opportunity I get, you know? Last year it was in the 55 car when Brian (Vickers) was out and this year it's in the 11 truck with Matt Tifft being out. Not the way I want to get opportunities, by someone else's hard fortune, but it's good to make the most of them. "Hopefully this opens the door for some more races."
Brett Moffitt to sub for Brian Vickers at Atlanta
Michael Waltrip Racing turns to 22-year-old in relief role CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Brett Moffitt , who made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in 2014, will drive the No. 55 Aaron's Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1 as Brian Vickers recuperates from offseason heart surgery. Owner Michael Waltrip made the announcement Tuesday during his team's stop on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. "He was the driver that everybody at Michael Waltrip Racing wanted to be in that car at Atlanta," Waltrip said. "They believe in him." Moffitt said he learned of his appointment to the No. 55 Toyota two weeks ago, making it exceedingly difficult to keep his fill-in role a secret. "It was a stressful wait to find out that I was going to be in the car, that's for sure," Moffitt said. "I obviously wanted this opportunity really bad and I'm thankful for it." In seven Sprint Cup starts last season, the best start and finish for the 22-year-old native of Grimes, Iowa and former NASCAR Next driver and K&N Pro Series East race winner came in his debut on June 1 at Dover International Speedway when he began the race in 18th and finished 22nd. Though he said he has been enjoying his time as a developmental driver in the MWR system, Moffitt said he was continuing to explore options -- in any of NASCAR's three national series -- that would allow him to race on a more consistent basis. "I'm very happy with MWR. They're very supportive of me -- have been since 2011," Moffitt said. "They gave me the first opportunity to test a Cup car, they gave me the first opportunity to race one, so they've been huge supporters of my career and I wouldn't be where I am without them, that's for sure. But at the same time, I need to be in a race car more often and they've been willing to work with me on that, and they said hey, if you find an opportunity, we're not going to hold you back from it." Waltrip agreed: "We'll let Brett do anything he wants to do in order to get laps so that he can continue to mature as a race car driver. We believe in Brett , he's our guy, but if we can loan him out and he can race somewhere else that would make me happy." Waltrip will drive the No. 55 Toyota in the Daytona 500 on Feb. 22 (1 p.m. ET, FOX) as he attempts to win his third Great American Race. Despite missing the first two races of the season, Vickers received NASCAR's blessing to run for the Sprint Cup Series championship provided he meets all other requirements for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. He will return to his ride at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the third race of the year on March 8. Last month, doctors discovered Vickers' body rejected a patch that was placed over a hole in his heart. They alleviated the problem and gave him clearance to race just three months after the corrective heart surgery. "They took my heart out and replaced it with a lion heart," Vickers joked on Tuesday. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Brett Moffitt to run No. 55 at Martinsville
Chris Buescher will pilot the No. 34 for the second straight week Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: Entry list for Martinsville Three interim drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will reprise their roles for the second straight race this weekend at Martinsville Speedway based on the entry list for the STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Brett Moffitt will drive the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55 Toyota in place of Brian Vickers , who will miss the next three months of competition after doctors discovered a recurrence of blood clots last week. Vickers has resumed taking blood-thinning medication, which precludes him from racing. Moffitt , a developmental driver for MWR, is scheduled to make his 12th Sprint Cup start and his first in the premier series at Martinsville in Sunday's STP 500 . He finished 22nd Sunday at Auto Club Speedway . Chris Buescher , a NASCAR XFINITY Series regular, will return to the Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford for the second straight week. Buescher finished 20th in his Sprint Cup debut Sunday at Auto Club as a last-minute fill-in when Moffitt was named as Vickers' replacement. Front Row later confirmed Buescher's return to the No. 34 on Twitter. . @Chris_Buescher will return to the No. 34 for @MartinsvilleSwy weekend. pic.twitter.com/0viNgEUyTx — FrontRow Motorsports (@FrontRowNASCAR) March 23, 2015 Buescher ranks second in XFINITY Series standings, just five points behind series leader Ty Dillon . David Ragan will continue as interim driver of Joe Gibbs Racing 's No. 18 Toyota in place of the injured Kyle Busch , who suffered fractures of both legs in last month's XFINITY opener at Daytona International Speedway . With Busch out indefinitely, Ragan is scheduled to pilot the JGR No. 18 for the next several weeks before returning to his regular ride in the Front Row No. 34. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Moffitt : 'We knew it was a matter of time'
Brett Moffitt celebrates in Victory Lane after finishing runner-up at Bristol Motor Speedway last week.
Moffitt talks racing against NASCAR lineage
Brett Moffitt addresses racing clean against Ben Kennedy, a relative of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., and how Moffitt respects Kennedy's skills in the closing laps to secure the win.
Moffitt wins at Michigan with last-lap pass
Brett Moffitt makes a three-wide pass by his teammate, Timothy Peters, on the final laps to capture his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win.
Moffitt : 'I don't think I've had a clear path my whole career'
Brett Moffitt talks about his career and the opportunities he's had in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the No. 55 last season and currently in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the No. 11 team.
After career-best finish, Moffitt awaits next shot
22-year-old scored eighth-place result at Atlanta subbing for Vickers Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Brett Moffitt 's first start of the 2015 season left quite the impression, as the 22-year-old scored an eighth-place finish in Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Unfortunately for the Grimes, Iowa, native, start No. 2 has yet to be determined. Moffitt , a development driver with Michael Waltrip Racing , filled in for Brian Vickers in the organization’s No. 55 Toyota at AMS. It was his eighth career start in the series. Owner/driver Michael Waltrip finished 26th in a fill-in role for Vickers in the season-opening Daytona 500 . Vickers, sidelined for the first two races due to health issues, returns to the seat this weekend when the series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Kobalt 400 on March 8 (FOX, 3:30 p.m. ET) "I wish I was in it for the next 30-some weeks," Moffitt said following his top-10 finish at AMS, "but I'm sure something will come about; an opportunity will open up, so we'll see." In a statement Monday, MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman said MWR officials are "enthusiastic about ( Moffitt's ) potential." " Brett is under a multi-year agreement with Michael Waltrip Racing ," Kauffman said. "MWR would love to get back to a three-car team and grow with him into the future. Before this past weekend we stated that we felt his name should be mentioned among the impressive crop of young drivers coming into the sport, and the Atlanta result validated that claim." Moffitt , a member of the original NASCAR Next class in 2011, competed regularly in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East from 2009 through '13, scoring nine wins and finishing inside the top five in more than half his starts (33 in 61 races). He has a handful of starts in ARCA, NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series and XFINITY Series. Earlier this year, Moffitt said he was pleased with his association with MWR and thankful for the opportunities the organization had afforded him thus far. "But at the same time, I need to be in a race car more often and they've been willing to work with me on that, and they said 'Hey, if you find an opportunity, we're not going to hold you back from it,' " he said. A lack of sponsorship forced MWR to contract from three Sprint Cup teams to two after the 2013 season. Should expansion be on the horizon, Moffitt could find himself on the short list of potential driver candidates. Another option, more likely given the time frame, would be to secure a ride for Moffitt through another Toyota-affiliated organization. "While we work toward a fully supported in-house program, it is MWR's desire that Brett get more quality opportunities in either of NASCAR's top divisions and we will work diligently to make that happen," Kauffman said. Dave Wilson, president and general manager, Toyota Racing Development, USA, said that Moffitt is "in our … driver development program and we have been working with him in a development capacity over the past couple of years. "Given the right opportunity we would love to see him in a Toyota down the road." Moffitt's Atlanta effort reinforced the group's belief in the talented youngster. It also reinforced his belief in himself. Although nearly two laps down to the leader at one point, a timely caution in the latter stages of Sunday's race allowed Moffitt and the No. 55 team to pit under yellow and gain track position. The team then opted to stay out under a subsequent yellow, and Moffitt found himself restarting third. And while he spun his tires on the restart, losing several spots, he was able to hold off Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman in the closing laps and hold on to eighth place. "I was tearing up out there; this is the biggest accomplishment I could have ever done," an emotional Moffitt said afterward. "… These guys kept fighting. … I spun the tires there, luckily we were able to get 'em back on the last restart." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule