Patience is not normally a word you’d associate with a race car driver.
Most folks might think of these people – who strap themselves into specially-fitted seats, don the latest equipment designed for safety, and strap themselves into specially-fitted cockpits – drive with a devil-may-care attitude and approach life the same way.
But, if you look closely at many of the big name stars of the sports and study them, you’ll find that patience is as much a part of the racing game as speed itself.
When your life’s dream is to be the best race car driver in the world, and you find that dream filled with hiccups along the way, well, then patience is a virtue and one that you are forced to practice on a daily basis.
Such is the life of Grimes native Brett Moffitt. Moffitt burst onto the Iowa racing scene more than a decade ago and his name became synonymous with victory on the dirt track when he raced in what is now known as the SportMod division. He was winning races, winning them regularly, at the age of just 13.
His rise through the racing ranks was almost meteoric. He quickly adapted to asphalt racing surfaces and won often in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, just a step below the top three series in NASCAR racing. Off and on, he got a chance to climb that ladder, racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series and, finally, in 2015 securing a ride in the top NASCAR series, now known as the Monster Energy Series.
That opportunity came when Kyle Busch suffered a badly broken leg in a crash at Daytona Beach, Fla., and David Ragan was named to replace Busch while the latter recovered. Moffitt stepped into the No. 34 car and, when Busch was able to return, drove a number of races again for Waltrip. It was Moffitt’s biggest year, as the now 24-year-old competed in 31 Cup races that year.
He was hired as a development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing, which fields top-level cars driven by the likes of Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth, before joining Michael Waltrip Racing as a Toyota development driver. But, when the Waltrip group ended its Cup Series racing, Moffitt was once again on the outside looking in.
Moffitt was picked up by Red Horse Racing in 2016 to race in the No. 11 truck at Kentucky. He started second, but finished 31st when the engine blew up. However, he returned to race the truck and finished third in a race at Pocono, Pa., and second and Bristol, Tenn.
Then on August 27, Moffitt’s fourth start in the No. 11 truck brought victory as he passed both William Bryan and Moffitt teammate Timothy Peters on the last lap to win the Career for Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway. Alas, Moffitt’s season ended prematurely when the No. 11 regular driver Matt Tift returned after recovering from brain surgery.
His future was again uncertain, but on this past Feb. 17th, just a week before the season was to begin, Moffitt was named Red Horse Racing driver for the first two races of this season. He drove the No. 7 truck at Daytona and led the race during the early laps. However, his day ended early when his car was hit from behind and he spun into the infield barrier.
His second race came Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He qualified 13th and finished 11th in the 200-mile race.
Now, Moffitt, once again, has been put in the patience mode as he awaits another opportunity. That’s a tough position for a driver who began racing go-karts in 2010, won at the fabled Knoxville Raceway at age 14 and began making a name for himself soon after he joined the NASCAR ranks at age 16. There’s nothing Moffitt would like better than to land a full-time ride in the Cup Series, but there’s also no doubt he’d be pleased with a ride in either the Xfinity Series or in the Camping World Truck Series. He’s won before and he’s confident he can win again.
Moffitt just needs the chance.