After a solid 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, Hattori Racing Enterprises moved in a different direction. The organization signed Brett Moffitt, a former Michael Waltrip Racing development driver, to pilot its No. 16 Toyota Tundra for 2018.
For Moffitt, this signing is a big step. Though he originally believed he would be full-time in the series last year, that didn’t quite happen due to Red Horse Racing closing its doors after five races.
Now, he has his first shot at winning a NASCAR championship. Frontstretch caught up with Moffitt at Daytona International Speedway prior to the season opener, discussing his move to HRE. Among the topics: 2018 expectations, the struggle of finding sponsorship in tough situations, what it means to move back to full-time competition, and more.
Joseph Wolkin, Frontstretch.com: What’s it been like to join Hattori so far?
Brett Moffitt: A lot of the guys here at HRE are actually familiar faces. Between Michael Waltrip Racing, Red Horse Racing and a few other teams, I’ve pretty much worked with all of them. That made working here really efficient and everyone here has a really good attitude. We all have the same goal. It’s easy to fit right in and move on.
Wolkin: This deal came late in the offseason. Were you expecting to get a deal so close to Daytona?
Moffitt: A lot of things were up in the air. You never know what things are going to go through or not go through. I’m very fortunate to be standing here right now to race this truck. I think it’s a championship-caliber team and we’ll have a good shot at going for the championship.
Wolkin: What does this opportunity mean to you after having part-time deals for several years?
Moffitt: Last year was looking like it was going to be a full-time deal. But after Charlotte, we got shut down. That was pretty heartbreaking. To get back to being in a competitive ride is what’s important to me. I don’t enjoy racing and just riding around, like with some of the Cup stuff I’ve done, just collecting a paycheck. It’s just not fun for me, and it makes me burn out on the sport. I’m glad to be on a winning-caliber team, and I think we’re going to find a lot of success. That kind of re-energizes my confidence. It’s just enlightening and it’s a blessing.
Wolkin: What are your expectations for this year? Do you feel like you can guide this team to a run at the championship?
Moffitt: I think so. If you look at where they started last year to where they ended, they were leaps and bounds forward. They had really competitive trucks by the end of the year. If we can fire off from where they left off last year and build on top of that, we’ll have a great shot at a championship and winning multiple races this year. They’re all very driven people on this team.
Wolkin: You’ve been with Toyota for several years. How important is it for you to stick with Toyota?
Moffitt: It’s a great relationship, and they offer a lot of support to the drivers and teams. I think that’s just another part of this relationship that’s going to make this a great pairing. It adds fuel to our fire and helps us get to the next level.
Wolkin: What’s it like to enter Daytona knowing you have a full-season deal?
Moffitt: Well, we’re always looking for more sponsorship. It’s reassuring knowing that we’re going to go out there, be able to build on each week and compete for wins. We need to make the program better each week.
Wolkin: How would you evaluate your time with different teams over the course of your career?
Moffitt: I was with Michael Waltrip Racing for a bit, and that was a good fit for the time. I was sad the way that ended as well. I thought I had a home there for a while and a multi-year contract. They shut down, and that kind of put me on the streets looking for a new opportunity. Being affiliated with a big Cup team is the most reassuring thing as a driver. At these smaller teams, everyone is so tight-knit and more of a bunch of friends working on a racecar rather than the corporate aspect of the Cup teams. That’s kind of nice also. We’re all friends who go to dinner and have fun. That makes this Truck racing fun.
Wolkin: You’ve had some tough breaks with teams. How do you pick yourself back up and strive to keep wanting a career in this sport?
Moffitt: It’s the best way I can make a living. It’s always been a passion of mine. When you’re having those struggles, you really get down. My family kept telling me to keep pushing and to keep after it. A lot of that came from my dad and some of the struggles he’s been through in life. To keep going after it and being with Red Horse the last couple of years off and on, getting that win really refueled my fire. The sport is a lot of fun when you’re winning. When you’re running mid-pack to back of the pack, you lose sight on how much fun you have winning. It’s fun to be winning the races and competing. That’s what drives me.
That little glimpse was all I needed to refuel me and keep me going.