Race Weekend Central

Fire on Fridays: Bad Times Don’t Last, But Brett Moffitt Does

Few drivers have ridden as big a career roller coaster as Brett Moffitt, but he may finally have found his home.

Moffitt burst onto the scene as a Michael Waltrip Racing development driver, winning the 2015 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year award with Front Row Motorsports. He essentially skipped over the NASCAR Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards series and went straight to Cup.

Then MWR shut down, leaving Moffitt ride-less.

It took him until 2018 to land another full-time ride, racing trucks for Hattori Racing Enterprises, where he won a championship. Despite winning that title, he was replaced by Austin Hill. Moffitt enjoyed a few years with GMS Racing in Trucks and Our Motorsports in Xfinity, but was again without regular employment the second half of last year.

The Our split was especially shocking, as the team released him just 20 races into the 2022 season. He had previously been the team’s flagship driver, being there from its Xfinity beginning as a single-car team in 2020 to its expansion to three cars at the start of last year.

“He [Chris Our, team owner] was trying to run a race team, and he had to do what was right for his company, which I understand and I respect,” Moffitt told Frontstretch earlier this month at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “The way things were going, it’s what needed to happen for the business to survive. I enjoyed being there a lot, but at the same time, you could kind of see how things were going.”

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Our has since shrunken back to a single-car team. It has yet to score a top 10 this year after Moffitt had two top fives and 21 top 10s over his two and a half years there. Both top fives and 12 of those top 10s came in the first year-and-a-half when Joe Williams was the crew chief.

“It was a little bit of taking on too much, too quick, I think,” Moffitt said. “Chris Our and the Our family are a very great and a passionate family about racing. Hats off to them; the experience I gained there over the past two and a half years was amazing. It’s unfortunate it ended the way it did, but it is what it is. No hard feelings there. We’ll move on, and I’m just thankful for the opportunity there.”

Moffitt seemed to be out of sight, out of mind after Our. In that scenario, it’s easy for the sport to leave a driver in the dust and for them to never get another opportunity.

“There’s always that thought [that you won’t get another opportunity],” Moffitt said. “You never know what’s gonna happen in this sport, but I’ve been through those kind of situations a lot in my career. At the end of the day, I don’t have a $3-5 million checkbook I can bring to the table and just write a check to be in a ride.”

Then came a fall weekend at Kansas Speedway where Moffitt did double duty, driving the Truck race for AM Racing and Xfinity for SS-Green Light Racing, which was essentially a Stewart-Haas Racing satellite team at the time. The crew chief for the SSGLR car Moffitt drove? Williams, with whom he was paired for the best part of his Our tenure.

“Obviously, I want to be at the racetrack each and every week, but it wasn’t the end of the world and it opened new opportunities to go run the No. 07 car at Kansas and get our relationship going with Stewart-Haas on that front as well and being back with Joe,” Moffitt said. “Everything happens for a reason, I’m a firm believer in that. You can’t see it at the time, but things played out really good for me.”

Engine problems took him out of the Truck race early, but he impressed in the Xfinity race, finishing in the top 10 in all three stages.

Shortly after, Moffitt landed another full-time ride, and one that could end up being his best opportunity in quite a while. Moffitt joined AM for 2023, its debut Xfinity season. The team has been in Trucks since 2016 but finally made the jump to Xfinity this year.

Aside from the Kansas race, AM’s relationship with Moffitt goes back to 2021, when he did a one-off for it because he wanted to be in the Truck race at Knoxville Raceway. He ran Knoxville for the team again last year and said he’s trying to convince the team to put him in the truck again for the North Wilkesboro Speedway race.

“[The Truck races] certainly started our relationship,” Moffitt said. “I never knew this was in the cards or in the plan for AM Racing. It really started with [team principal] Kevin Cywinski and our team president Wade Moore, they asked me and my manager to go to lunch, and they wanted to share their plans. I didn’t really know what to expect going into it. At one point, Kevin flat out said, ‘We want to race for an Xfinity championship, and we want to give you the best cars we possibly can and we’re gonna do a full effort here.’

“After that meeting, I was pretty much hooked, and it became, ‘How do we make this all happen and get the right people in the right places?’ Which fortunately enough, we did.”

After Moffitt got the ride, Williams was the first person he texted about once again being his crew chief.

“It just makes a lot of sense,” Moffitt said. “When you can have a choice to choose who you work with, going back to someone you’ve had a lot of success with and worked really well together, that’s the first choice right away.”

The pairing has resulted in speed out of the gate, with Moffitt posting 13th or better in half of the six races so far, including two top 10s.

Part of the reason for that speed? AM formed an alliance with SHR for this season and is getting engines from Roush-Yates Engines. Williams’ experience with an SHR satellite team last year helped Moffitt and AM to hit the ground running.

“A lot of raw speed comes from [SHR] because we’re buying cars from them, we’re getting some info from them,” Moffitt said. “So it’s a good working relationship, and obviously Roush Yates [Engines] power under the hood. … The handling side kind of comes back on us a little bit, but obviously, we have to have really good equipment, and we’re supplied by that from Stewart-Haas Racing.”

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That speed was best showcased in Las Vegas qualifying, when Moffitt posted the fourth fastest time, barely missing the pole. Moffitt currently sits 16th in points, 26 points behind SHR’s Cole Custer for the final playoff spot.

That’s not exactly setting the world on fire, but it’s a strong start for a team new to the series. Moffitt estimated the team will be running even better by the summer.

“There was a lot of undertaking that these guys had to do to get us ready to get here in a very short amount of time as far as getting cars ready, getting everything in place,” Moffitt said. “But everything just fell together perfectly to be able to come out of the gate strong.

“I feel like if we didn’t have the right people where we have them now, it would take a while to get the ball rolling. Thankfully, it’s just kind of a plug-and-play effort. Surround yourself with good people and good things happen.”

As for Cywinski’s desire to win an Xfinity championship, Moffitt said he believes “it’s definitely achievable.

“I went into the No. 16 truck, the team was existing there, but it was basically a new team for me, and we went out and won a championship,” Moffitt said. “With our partnerships with Roush-Yates and Stewart-Haas and all the people we have on this race team, I don’t see a reason why we can’t go compete for a championship.”

Hoisting another NASCAR national touring series championship trophy would bring Moffitt’s scenic route of a career trajectory full circle, especially if it led him to another opportunity in Cup. Could AM, which started out as a “family hobby” for team owner Tim Self and son Austin Wayne Self, continue its rise up the NASCAR ladder to give Moffitt that second opportunity at Cup?

“I don’t know if Cup is on the horizon for them, but you never know,” Moffitt said. “Anything is possible with the new Cup car. It’s making it a little more achievable for teams to come in and be competitive. But right now, I’m just focused on today, tomorrow and taking it one step at a time.”

About the author

Michael.massie 113x150

Michael Massie joined Frontstretch in 2017 and has served as the Content Director since 2020. Massie, a Richmond, Va., native, has covered NASCAR, IndyCar, SRX and the CARS Tour. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad and Green Bay Packers minority owner can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies and Packers.

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