Late in the 2017 off-season, Brett Moffitt was announced as the driver of the No. 16 Hattori Racing Toyota. Since then, it’s been a career-year for the Iowa native.
After six years of part-time racing among the top three NASCAR touring divisions, Moffitt has five victories in 2018, solidifying his spot into the Championship 4 by winning at ISM Raceway last weekend (Nov. 9).
In addition to five wins, Moffitt has earned seven additional top-five finishes this year, making up his 12 top 10s in 22 races. The driver knew the team had the talent, but surprised to have so much success so early on.
“We’ve overachieved everyone’s goals, and hopefully tomorrow night we can really overachieve everyone’s goals with a championship,” Moffitt said on Thursday (Nov. 15) at Championship Media Day. “I’ve worked with most of them [his team] and that gives me the confidence of a driver going into it that we would be able to win races. I just didn’t know how many and how early.”
Moffitt won his first race of the season in the series second event of 2018 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The No. 16 team backed the win up with back-to-back third-place efforts. But it wasn’t until mid-June that he found Victory Lane again, this time at Iowa Speedway in a classic last-lap battle with Noah Gragson.
But since the second half of the season began, Moffitt has won three additional races (Chicagoland Speedway, Michigan International Speedway and ISM Raceway) that propelled him into being one of the championship favorites, arguably alongside Johnny Sauter, who has a series-high six wins this season.
The success of the No. 16 team this year has allowed Moffitt to see himself being a championship-level driver, though he’s never won a racing title.
“I feel like I’ve done a good job of maturing throughout the races and really looking at the bigger picture, which might be a trait of late-race strong finishes,” he said. “We never give up and work on it throughout the race and that’s where I feel like I’ve done a better job, whereas in the past I would get discouraged in the first stage if we weren’t good.”
Hattori Racing is one of the smaller, competitive teams in the Camping World Truck Series. At times this year, there were discussions on whether or not it could bring a truck to the racetrack on a given week due to a lack of sponsorship.
Ultimately, the No. 16 team made it to every event, being in contention for the win more times than not. Moffitt says hard work pays off.
“The biggest challenge this year is simply funding,” he mentioned. “That’s the reason our personnel count is so low. It’s the reason why everyone has to work harder than most people probably do or should. It just puts our team in a lot of binds throughout the season.
“We can’t buy new parts and trucks every week, we have to make do with what we’ve got. At some point in the season, we had to race a little more conservative because of that. On the flip side of that, it shows how damn good these people are on this team and how passionate they are, and how willing to work for it they are, that they won’t allow that to be an excuse.”
Should the No. 16 team be hoisting the championship trophy following Friday’s race, it would be a victory for the little guys. It would also come in Moffitt’s 36th career series race and first at Homestead in the Truck Series.
Moffitt will be competing against 2016 series champion Sauter, while Gragson and Justin Haley are competing for their first championship, respectively.
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