After winning the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship with Hattori Racing Enterprises in November, Brett Moffitt was on top of the world.
Anyone who followed his path to the top understood why, too. Driving for Shigeaki Hattori’s underfunded operation, Moffitt and crew scratched and clawed for sponsorship, even to the point that they nearly missed a handful of races in their pursuit of the crown.
However, the team persevered in the face of adversity and Moffitt won the championship on the strength of six victories, including wins in the final two races of the season at Arizona’s ISM Raceway and Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway.
It was a Cinderella story for the Grimes, Iowa, native, who called his Homestead triumph “the pivotal moment” of his career.
It turned out to be just that, in more ways than one.
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Less than a month after winning the title, Moffitt was notified by HRE that he was out of a ride for the upcoming season, leaving the reigning champion scrambling to find an opening in order to have a chance to be on the grid at Daytona Int’l Speedway in February.
Enter Maury Gallagher, Mike Beam and GMS Racing, who stepped up to give Moffitt another chance in a career defined by making the most of every opportunity, no matter how small.
The team that won the championship with veteran Johnny Sauter in 2016 now goes into battle with a younger upstart who, yet again, has had life breathed into his chances on the national stage.
“This was a long offseason, with not knowing where I would end up or if I would have a ride at all,” Moffitt noted. “Thankfully, in the 11th hour, this deal came together with GMS and I’ll be able to go back and try to defend my championship. I’m really looking forward to it and grateful for the chance.”
Moffitt confirmed it was indeed a scramble to get all the pieces put into place to drive the No. 24 Chevrolet this season.
“This deal was honestly super last-minute,” noted Moffitt. “I didn’t know about it for very long. Talks started between myself and GMS between the holidays and they just wanted to see what I could bring to them and what they could do for me … and obviously, if I was still available. Luckily, we were able to work something out.
“I do have a few existing partners, who have been with me through the years, who will be on the truck at least a little bit this season. I’m not sure how often that will happen, but it will be a little bit, at least,” Moffitt added. “I’m just really excited to work with GMS and work toward winning another title.”
Despite his move to GMS, Moffitt has been quick to point out that the economic landscape within the sport and the ability of drivers to position themselves solidly with teams is in turmoil.
“It’s super-tough right now,” Moffitt noted. “Sponsorship is definitely needed and teams have to be willing to back a driver. For a driver, it makes it really difficult, as far as getting a ride and securing a ride. Having the championship on my résumé from last year certainly helped, and it certainly opened a lot of doors that might not have otherwise been opened.
“I’d say the landscape is getting better, but that the financial side is still struggling and it does take a lot of work to make it make sense as far as a full season goes,” Moffitt added. “I’m just happy that I was able to do what I did last year and that it meant enough to the Gallagher family for them to want me to race for them.
“I don’t think the struggle is over yet, but we’re going to keep on working.”