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It’s the same story we’ve seen, time and time again. [Insert driver name here] was sidelined due to a lack of funding to keep their team going. Despite the current apparent health in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series that has yet to put a short field on the track this season, a lack of sponsorship may be on the way to rearing its ugly head once again.
Brett Moffitt is the latest potential victim of sponsorship woes in the Truck Series. You read that right; the Iowa Speedway victor, two-time 2018 winner and current runner-up in the championship standings still has unsold races this season.
“We’re certainly in a tight spot,” Moffitt explained during his media availability at Iowa Speedway last weekend. “As we saw at Texas, most of the truck was blank and Northland Foundation, which is on the truck again this weekend and one of our partners here, stepped up. Monday morning, we didn’t know if we were going to Texas or not.”
Remember that Moffitt is no stranger to the damage that can be done without enough financial backing to keep a team going. After all, he was supposed to run the full 2017 schedule with Red Horse Racing before the team shuttered its doors suddenly after Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.
But perhaps what’s more disappointing is that we’re talking about a two-time winner this season who has a legitimate shot at challenging the dominant Johnny Sauter in the championship battle.
“Certainly, we’re in a great spot in the points and in a spot to compete for a championship, and there’s still a few open races coming up,” he continued. “I know we’re good for Gateway [this week] and then I think Chicago we’re looking for a sponsor to partner with there. It’s certainly on all of our minds all the time and it’s something we’re working on to try and close that gap.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty on those open races, so we’ll keep working.”
Hattori Racing Enterprises added Destiny Homes and the company’s SMART project as sponsorship for last weekend’s race at Iowa, and when asked about his expectations for the weekend, he answered “beat him,” with a chuckle, referring to Sauter’s dominance this season.
“That’s the expectations. He’s set the bar,” Moffitt explained. “Him and Joe Shear [Jr., Sauter’s crew chief] and everyone at GMS has done a great job. It’s certainly the goal. They’ve really had fast trucks all year and Johnny has done a good job.
“We have speed and could have raced with him [Sauter], but we just haven’t put a whole race together. We need to go execute,” Moffitt continued. “That’s the goal for Iowa here, and to win in my home state would be huge.”
And that’s exactly what Moffitt did, leading a race-high 76 laps en route to his second victory this season, all but locking the No. 16 team into the playoffs. The hope here is that the win brings a spotlight to a clearly talented driver and a small team just looking to keep doing what they love.
Let’s be clear about one thing though: HRE has given no indication whether it will continue to field Moffitt, even if there isn’t financial backing. With that said, it’s hard to forget what ultimately happened to Ryan Truex during the 2016 season.
After signing on for the full schedule, his efforts were sidelined when sponsorship money dried up, and he was forced to skip eight races that year. The good news, though, is that he did enter 2017 fully sponsored, and while he didn’t make the playoffs, he ran well and was often a threat to win until something, whether of his own doing or getting caught up in another competitor’s incident, took him out of contention.
But the real question here is how can this problem be fixed?
Sadly, it’s not as simple as some may claim it is.
According to a 2017 report from NBC Sports, Brad Keselowski, who used to own a team in the series until the end of last season, and Kyle Busch, stated that the costs to run a single team can run anywhere from $3.2 to $4.5 million. And what’s worse, Keselowski is quoted as saying the purse money for winning a race typically “at best, and this is at best, about five percent of what we spent [that weekend].”
NASCAR stopped reporting purse amounts at the end of the 2015 season, but even then, you could look back and see that winning a race rarely brought six figures in. In fact, if you look at Erik Jones, who won the championship that, yes, his earnings from racing alone brought in just $1,103,360, and it doesn’t take a mathematician to know that those numbers don’t add up to the aforementioned costs.
Of course, that doesn’t take into account sponsor commitments and the like, but the risk versus reward just isn’t there for the smaller teams trying to take a chance and make a name for themselves.
In the end, it’s absolutely a fact that NASCAR and the teams need to find a way to bring more companies and more financial backing to the sport. It’s simple mathematics. But what’s equally as important is that there’s got to be a way to help teams cut operating costs.
Because if the sanctioning body and the teams can’t find a way to decrease operating costs or increase the cash flow coming in, the series will die a slow and painful death. And that would be a shame for a series that regularly puts on some of the most spectacular racing in a single weekend.
- ARCA Racing Series driver and current NASCAR Next member Zane Smith will make his Truck Series debut at Gateway for DGR-Crosley. The 19-year-old scored his first career ARCA win at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway earlier this season and has since notched two more victories and seven top fives in nine races.
“Honestly, I’m pumped for my Truck Series debut,” said Smith. “I got a text, and we pretty much did everything in a day to get all the approvals and everything we needed to do. My goal is to put together a solid race and make the most of this opportunity with DGR-Crosley. Hopefully we will be contending for a win at the end, but just to have a shot is all you can ask for. Thank you to all the people that support me and make this possible: LaPaz Margarita Mix, SpeedVegas, Icon Vehicle Dynamics Ultra Wheel and Crosley Brands. This is a dream come true to continue moving up the ladder.”
- After a successful NASCAR XFINITY Series debut last weekend at Iowa Speedway, Riley Herbst will make his Truck Series debut at Gateway this weekend behind the wheel of the No. 51 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports. The current ARCA Racing Series competitor runs for Joe Gibbs Racing where he has three top fives and five top 10s in nine races. After this weekend, Herbst will make his next start with KBM at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September.
“Usually you make your Truck Series debut before your XFINITY Series debut, but for me it was reversed which is kind of weird,” Herbst said. “Luckily, I get to make both within a week’s span, so I’m really excited. Gateway is really cool. It’s another short track like Iowa, but completely different being flat on both ends. I know that it’s good racing and I’m really looking forward to it this weekend. My goal for my first Truck start will be to just complete all the laps, learn as much as I can and hopefully we’re there at the end to pounce on ‘em.”