This article was written based on an interview conducted by Frontstretch contributor Jay Barker.
KNOXVILLE, Iowa – There are few drivers in dirt late model racing whose career resume comes close to matching Billy Moyer‘s. From a career win total of nearly 850 races to being the only driver in the nearly 20-year history of the Knoxville Late Model Nationals to sweep all three nights of the event, there’s a reason many in the Midwest refer to Moyer as the GOAT.
None of that has mattered two nights into the 2023 edition of the Late Model Nationals, as Moyer will enter Saturday’s finale facing a race through a B-main to even have a shot at the $50,000-to-win main event (Sept. 16). Meanwhile, current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points leader Ricky Thornton Jr. enters Saturday having swept prelim features Thursday and Friday night, leaving him in position to equal Moyer’s record at the track.
That’s perhaps not surprising. Entering Saturday, the dominant headline of the Knoxville weekend was a heated post-race remark uttered by defending Late Model Nationals champion Jonathan Davenport.
While Davenport’s choice of words has sparked a great deal of debate on social media, it’s an undisputed fact that aerodynamics are playing a greater role in dirt late model racing than ever before. That doesn’t help things for Moyer, a driver who, at least temporarily, was in retirement before being coaxed back into a racecar by owner Tim Lance, a former NFL player for the Chicago Bears.
“He (Lance) asked me to come and help his race program and I actually said no a couple times,” Moyer recalled to Frontstretch. “But Tim was persistent in calling me back, then one thing led to another, then we were bringing his car and my car in one trailer.”
Moyer, who had been out of racing for over a year entering 2023, didn’t mince words about the challenges of returning to the high-tech world that late model racing has become.
“To come back is like learning to walk again,” said Moyer of his return to the sport.
“I’m just a little bit behind on some of these things and I haven’t been able to run all. year like I wanted, but we keep trying.”
Moyer’s season has not been without some success, having found victory lane at Central Arizona Raceway back in March and Farmer City Raceway in May. But Knoxville on the Lucas Oil tour is a whole different ballgame and the veteran driver remembers just how difficult his previous successes in this event were.
“Everything went right for us that weekend” said Moyer of his 2010 effort that saw him win two prelim features and the A-main of the Late Model Nationals at Knoxville.
That has not been the case this weekend. Entering Friday night 22nd in event points and narrowly on the right side of the transfer line into Saturday’s feature, Moyer went backwards in every event he contested Friday, falling from third to sixth in his heat race. It was more of the same in his B-main, losing the final transfer spot to Justin Zeitner in the race’s midsection.
To add insult to injury, Moyer then slapped the wall on the final lap of Friday’s B-main, damaging his racecar.
Moyer declined comment to Frontstretch following the incident but was visibly frustrated returning his wounded machine to his pit.
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