2018 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series champion Brett Moffitt made the move from Hattori Racing Enterprises over the offseason to GMS Racing. The defending series champion has been one of the Truck Series regulars able to stand up to Kyle Busch during the opening rounds of this year’s campaign. While competing against Busch, he’s been able to make the statement that he’s here to successfully defend his title, and no one will stand in his way.
Frontstretch‘s Christian Koelle caught up with Moffitt at the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet grand opening in Hixson, Tenn., location to speak about the transition, his view on his season so far, and more.
Christian Koelle, Frontstretch: Over the offseason, you transferred from Hattori Racing Enterprises to GMS Racing. How has that transition been going so far?
Brett Moffitt: It’s been really easy. Everyone at GMS has been amazing, and they have been such a great team in the Truck Series for quite a while now, so it makes it easy for a driver to plug into their program and get to work. There is always growing pains with a new team working with a new crew [and] crew chief, and just getting our communication on the same page it’s always going to be a time-consuming effort, but I think once we get it figured out in the next few races we’re going to be really good.
Koelle: This season you’ve had to try to beat Kyle Busch, which is very challenging. This time last year you already had one win under your belt at Atlanta Motor Speedway. What is the team going to try to do to beat Busch, and once he’s out of the picture, do you think you’re the favorite?
Moffitt: For sure. I think as for beating Kyle Busch there are two races we could’ve beat him just off of speed. Martinsville [Speedway]. we were quicker than him, and I feel like we could’ve beat him there, and then this past race at Texas [Motor Speedway] I feel like we for sure had him beat, and the late-race incident just took us out of it. I think we can beat him for sure, I know we can beat him. We just haven’t had the opportunity yet. Once he’s out of the picture, I think we have proven for sure that we are the truck to beat; we’re the only one who has been able to run with him and race with him.
Koelle: There has been a lot of comers and goers this season; our championship contenders from last year have been making light mistakes this season. How are you watching the other drivers to try to capitalize on their mistakes to further benefit your season?
Moffitt: I think everyone, especially when Kyle is in the race, puts a ton of pressure on themselves, and you know you need to go out and run a 100% perfect race, and that tends to be when you make mistakes. I think in a lot of the teams there has been movement, whether it be crew chiefs or driver changes. So I think everyone at this point is still going through that same kind of growing pains, and I’m sure they will get to executing races better as the season goes. But we need to make sure we are doing our jobs and [are] bringing fast Silverados every week and [are] executing the races to our full potential — even if that’s not winning but coming home with a top-three finish or top-five then, that’s what we need to do.
Koelle: Last season, Matt Crafton said he thought moving Texas from November to now and then going right back there in a few weeks was a dumb decision. What are your thoughts on that move for the Truck Series schedule and some of the new moves on the schedule?
Moffitt: I’m pretty good with it. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of Texas; we just ran really good there, but I prefer the more traditional high-banked mile-and-a-half, personally. I feel like I do better on older, worn-out surfaces. If you look at my stats, I do better at those places, so I’m good with the change. The playoffs with the Truck Series is really challenging with going to different kinds of tracks, and it seems like the tracks we go to in the playoffs are high on attrition. It’s difficult but exciting at the same time, and it really makes you step up at the right time and perform under harsh circumstances, so I’m good with all of the changes. Hopefully it’s going to get some new fans in and even some old fans [if] it opens up their availability to come to the racetrack.
Koelle: Can you comment on the Truck Series returning to Richmond Raceway in 2020?
Moffitt: That racetrack is super fun; it’s a lot like Iowa [Speedway], which is probably my favorite racetrack out there. It’s similar but different, and I think it’s going to be awesome. I’ve said for the last couple of years I wish we went because it is such a great racetrack, especially with Trucks. I would like to go get another win there.
Koelle: What are some tracks you would like to see a return to the series?
Moffitt: For me, I think short tracks are great for the Truck Series, but I also really do like mile-and-a-halfs. I feel like with the new [Monster Energy NASCAR] Cup [Series] package it’s a lot more similar to a truck in the way they race, and I think mirroring their schedule is a good idea. If the Cup schedule isn’t going to be short track-dominated, then we don’t need to be that way; I think you need to mirror the Cup schedule [and] then scale it back a bit. I would love to go to Watkins Glen [International]; that is one of my favorite tracks to race at. If we’re going to have one road course on the schedule, we might as well have two or three, that’s my opinion. We already have one road course truck anyway; we might as well get more uses out of them.
Koelle: Same with Eldora Speedway; we only visit a dirt track once a year. Crafton said last season that he thinks having one truck for one race is a waste of money and time; that one truck that gets built and used once a year, which is basically pointless. What are your thoughts on that ordeal?
Moffitt: That’s kind of the same point as a road course truck. If we’re going to have one, we might as well have two or three. As you said, we’ll have a one-off truck just for the dirt track and a one-off truck for the road courses. I’m not a big fan of NASCAR racing on dirt, honestly; personally, I love dirt racing [and] I love racing dirt modifieds, but our trucks aren’t meant to go on dirt, and they don’t drive like they are. It’s an exciting race, for sure, but I wish we could have some modifications to the suspension to make them drive better on dirt.
Koelle: Last year, Talladega Superspeedway was your kryptonite in the playoffs. It was one of the races where everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong. Are you looking forward to returning in October?
Moffitt: I mean, [I’m] also not a big fan of [super]speedway racing. It’s kind of just a crapshoot. You know, Daytona [International Speedway] this year was the first time I have ever had fun at a superspeedway … because GMS has such a good superspeedway program that the trucks drive really good and they have a lot of speed. In equipment like that, I feel like you can dictate the outcome of the race a little more than just hang on and pray that you don’t wreck, but we still got caught up in a wreck after having a penalty. I have a lot more positive thoughts being with GMS going to a superspeedway than I did last year, but you still don’t know what’s going to happen.
Koelle: How has it been having Sheldon Creed as a teammate over at GMS? He’s made a big splash in everything he’s raced, including winning the ARCA Menards Series championship last year.
Moffitt: It always helps to have a teammate. Going to the track, we can try different things and bounce setup ideas off each other. Working with Sheldon, he’s been very good so far, and we get along very well. We’ve been working out and riding bikes together; it’s a good bond. I am looking forward to him getting a little more experience under his belt; he’s got speed and talent, he just needs a little more experience.
Koelle: Do you see any differences in having a teammate compared to not having one?
Moffitt: Not really. Having a teammate can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. There are positives to both sides of it. If you are in a single-truck program and you are struggling, it’s hard to pinpoint where you can be better. But when you have a teammate, you can talk about it and discuss which direction you need to go, and so it’s easier to steer the ship and get better trucks. But at the same time, there are some hindrances where you’re off as a whole organization [and] it takes a bit longer to get everybody’s equipment back where it needs to be because they are building twice as many trucks and it’s a lot busier.
Koelle: You faced sponsorship issues for much of last season, but it doesn’t seem like you are facing that this season. How relieving is it to just go out and race without that hanging over your head?
Moffitt: It’s always a battle finding sponsors, right? You’re always looking for sponsors who will commit not just a few races but for your career or for a few seasons, and that’s what I feel like I have at GMS Racing. The Gallaghers are very invested in not just my career but NASCAR as a whole. It is definitely a weight off my shoulders and helps me focus on the main task at hand, and that’s winning poles, races and ultimately championships.