DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Thad Moffitt was within a whisker of earning the General Tire Pole Award in his first-ever appearance at Daytona Int’l Speedway on Friday afternoon.
Although he didn’t quite accomplish that goal following qualifying for the Lucas Oil 200, the fourth-generation driver is still enthusiastic about his chances to contend in Saturday’s ARCA Racing Series season opener at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
Moffitt will line up on the front row, alongside polesitter Christian Eckes, in his No. 46 Performance Plus Oil Chevrolet after turning a lap of 49.226 seconds (182.830 mph) during the third of six qualifying groups on Friday afternoon.
That lap was quick enough to briefly give Moffitt the top spot on the scoring pylon, before Eckes came out and just eclipsed his time.
Now, Moffitt – the grandson of seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion and seven-time Daytona 500 winner Richard Petty – turns his attention to Saturday’s race, where he’ll look to build on the Petty family’s impressive record at the historic facility.
In addition to the King’s seven Daytona 500 wins, Moffitt’s uncle, Kyle Petty, won the ARCA race at Daytona in 1979 and his great-grandfather Lee Petty won the inaugural Daytona 500 back in 1959.
“A lot of our family history was built at this track alone and there’s a lot to live up to,” Moffitt said. “Racing here for the first time is kind of surreal, because everyone in my family who’s been in a race car has raced here and everyone who’s driven a race car has won here.
“We’re starting off on a good note and hopefully we can get the deal done tomorrow.”
Moffitt also circled the importance of performing well in his Daytona debut
“It’s really important for me to come out here and run well in my first race at Daytona,” Moffitt said. “I feel like racing at Daytona is a part of the family legacy – a rite of passage – and on Saturday I’ll do that. That’s one foot in the door. To win here would be getting both feet in the door.
“It would mean the world to me to add on to that legacy and carry on the tradition that everyone in the family before me started here at this track.”