Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Moffitt Scores Two Top-Tens in One Weekend at Iowa Speedway
Hattori Racing Enterprises
GRIMES, Iowa -- Hattori Racing Enterprises (HRE) driver Brett Moffitt scored another top-five finish in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination Pork Be Inspired! 150 at Iowa Speedway on Friday, August 3rd, and immediately followed it with a 9th place finish in his Nationwide Series debut on Saturday, August 4th, driving for RAB Racing with Brack Maggard (RAB).
The weekend’s events began on Friday with temperatures near 100 degrees, with the temperature of the track’s asphalt soaring, and with race teams searching for the right set up for the night’s race, which would be run under cooler conditions. 42 teams made the trip for the K&N Pro Series combination race, and the #11 HRE Aisin Toyota unloaded 3rd quickest to start the first practice session. As temperatures continued to rise, practice times slowed during the second session, and Moffitt posted the 8th quickest time.
Qualifying was scheduled for the hottest part of the afternoon, and points leader Brett Moffitt ran a lap of 24.211 seconds (130.106 mph) around the .875 mile banked asphalt oval. Moffitt’s qualifying lap was identical to the time he clocked during the first practice session, and it placed the #11 in the 6th position, with Moffitt starting on the outside of the 3rd row.
“We were loose in qualifying, but this track tends to tighten up,” Moffitt explained, “So I wasn’t too worried about our race set up. The car was good, but it was not quite where we needed it to be to win the race. We made some adjustments at the half-way break and took the lead on the restart, but I could not hang onto the lead.”
Moffitt led only three laps, but gained a precious bonus point for his efforts. His 5th place finish kept him in Championship contention, and he left Iowa with a 20 point lead over the second place contender. He now has 9 wins, 7 poles, 28 top fives, and 34 top 10s in 43 career starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
The Pork Be Inspired 150 will air on SPEED on Thursday, August 16th, at 3:00 p.m. E.T.
During the same weekend at Iowa Speedway, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points leader Brett Moffitt also made his debut in stockcar racing’s second biggest circuit, the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), driving the #99 RAB ToyotaCare Toyota with Scott Zipadelli as Crew Chief in the US Cellular 250 Presented By the Enlist Weed Control System. RAB Racing is based in Concord, NC, was founded in 1998, and fields entries in the NNS and the Camping World Truck Series.
“Brett has done a fantastic job in the K&N Pro Series, so we’re looking forward to having him behind the wheel of our Toyota Camry this weekend at Iowa Speedway,” said Robby Benton, owner of RAB Racing with Brack Maggard, before the green flag. “He’s been a part of Michael Waltrip Racing’s driver development program, and through our relationship with them, this opportunity to help him move up the ladder came about.”
Both practice sessions for the NNS were held on Friday afternoon, immediately before the K&N Pro Series race. Any drivers doing double duty had to contend with the blistering heat and attempt to stay hydrated and focused. During the first practice session, while holding the wheel of a NNS car for the first time and working with a new team for the first time, Moffitt clocked the fastest practice times, keeping the car at the top of the leader board for the first 20 minutes of the initial practice session. The #99 ToyotaCare Toyota team did not make a mock qualifying run and settled for the 13th quickest time at the end of the first practice session. Moffitt set the 3rd quickest time during the second practice session, with a lap of 23.771 seconds (132.514 mph).
Qualifying for NNS was not held until Saturday afternoon, and by that time temperatures were significantly lower. The Speedway received some rain in the morning, there was cloud cover, and track conditions had changed considerably. Remarkably, in his first attempt in a NNS car, Moffitt qualified 10th with a lap time of 23.523 seconds (133.911 mph), starting on the outside of the 5th row. He had quite a learning curve to overcome as the race got underway, due to a tight-handling racecar in the early going.
NASCAR threw a competition caution on Lap 50, and Moffitt pitted with the leaders, restarting in the 14th position. The team was able to remedy the handling situation under yellow, and Moffitt’s growing comfort level with the car became evident as his lap times began to improve. The field saw the yellow flag for the second time at Lap 87 for a one-car spin in turn 4. Moffitt continued to run toward the front of the pack, and at lap 130, NASCAR scored him in 10th place. By Lap 157, only 15 cars remained on the lead lap, due to the pace being set by the frontrunners. Debris in Turn 3 brought out the yellow flag for the 3rd time on Lap 172, allowing the leaders to make their final scheduled pit stops under caution. On Lap 234, NASCAR commentators noted that Moffitt was in 9th and “having a great run”. Moffitt managed to keep his #99 RAB Racing ToyotaCare Camry inside the top 10 for much of the night and had been running faster lap times than the leaders prior to the last pit stop and tire change.
When the checkered flag flew at Lap 250, Moffitt was still in 9th place, giving him an almost unbelievable top 10 finish in his first start in the NNS. Moffitt commented, “It was a lot of fun, and I gained a lot of experience racing with the other cars. These cars are really aero-dependent, so it is a lot harder racing around other cars. I learned a lot, so that was good. At one point Michael Annett just drove into turn 3, and I was already a little loose into 3, and he just kind of sucked me around. I learned about aero loose real quick, so from then on I gave everyone a little room up on the outside just to be safe.” Moffitt was able to save his #99 ToyotaCare Camry from a near spin with Annett, and because he was able to adapt so quickly to the cars and come home with a top 10, RAB Racing advanced 2 positions in owner point standings.
“There was so much I learned tonight,” exclaimed Moffitt. “Learning pit stops was big and then learning the aero. These cars are so much different than the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East cars. Learning what gets your car aero loose and how to tuck a fender to get downforce on it when you’re racing right behind a car were the big lessons, and I think I learned a lot tonight. I accomplished what I set out to tonight, and it was a great race for RAB Racing and for me as well.”
The US Cellular 250 Presented By the Enlist Weed Control System was broadcast live on ESPN.
Only four races remain on the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule. Moffitt and the #11 HRE Toyota team will head next to the Greenville 140 at the historic Greenville Pickens Speedway in Greenville, SC on Monday, September 3rd.