When Andy Santerre hired 16-year-old Iowa native Brett Moffitt to drive his NASCAR Camping World East #44 ride, some people thought the owner of Andy Santerre Motorsports had jumped off the deep end. Why hire a young, un-proven driver to race your machine when you could get a top-notch racer to put your car firmly on the map and in victory lane?
Santerre and Moffitt made the critics look like fools at South Boston Speedway (VA) Saturday as Moffitt battled for the top spot early with Ryan Truex, finally taking the lead just past the halfway mark and driving on to win his first NASCAR Camping World East Series race.
The route to the South Boston Speedway victory lane for Moffitt started a day earlier at Caraway Speedway in North Carolina. The team headed there to practice, including practicing some restarts. Moffitt listened to the car owner and mentor, which proved to be the key to his Saturday win.
"This week I preached to him that his restarts are very important," said Santerre. "We worked on them all day yesterday at Caraway. We have had trouble with restarts in the past, but he had it down today and looked like a veteran out there.
"I also told him he couldn't spin the wheels coming off turn four. I said if he takes care of the right rear he is going to win the race, and that is what he did."
On a few occasions, Moffitt had the advantage over Truex in the restart department as Truex had trouble getting up through the gears.
"Honestly I just missed shifts and spun the tires on the first few restarts," said Truex. "After we got going, anytime we were on the outside, I was able to get in front of him. It was the same if he was outside of me. Whoever got out front could hold onto the lead from there."
Truex and Moffitt battled for the top spot on restarts throughout the event, but it was Moffitt who got the advantage, taking the lead for the final time just after the halfway mark, and holding onto that position until the checkered flag dropped.
"The car was just awesome the race," said Moffitt. "I knew if we got out front we would be hard to beat. When Truex was out front, he was hard to beat. The restarts were key and we ended up doing pretty good on them.
"We started off just trying to save the right rear because Andy told me whomever doesn't wear out the right rear at the end of the race will win it. Truex was a little bit looser than us, so I decided to back off and stay in second and not press the issue. It paid off. Coming down off turn four on the last lap I didn't know what to think. I thought it was just too cool."
Well after the race had concluded, Moffitt was still reeling from the victory, and extremely thankful for the opportunity Santerre has provided him.
"He (Santerre) has helped me with everything," continued Moffitt. "Anything that I have needed help with, he has been there. He is just awesome. He was an awesome driver when he was running and won four championships, so hopefully I can match that."
Santerre was equally impressed with his driver.
"I am pretty fortunate because this is just four races in and we get a win with a rookie driver," said Santerre. "Brett Moffitt is an awesome driver and has great talent. He is 16 years old, and I think there were a lot of questions on whether he could handle the pressures of driving this #44 car, but he is standing up straight and tall. He has qualified in the top five every week and has done a great job. I am real proud of him."
Despite Victory, Moffitt and ASM Looking For Sponsorship
Being a young, talented driver racing under the Andy Santerre Motorsports banner can open many doors for a racer, but it still costs money to be able to race, especially in the NASCAR Camping World East Series. And, while some people think that racing an ASM car gives you everything you need, Brett Moffitt needs a bit more.
The funding for the Moffitt-Santerre Express is coming directly from the father of the young, talented racer. Despite his desire to continue racing, the team needs some assistance to continue their winning ways.
"We are still looking for some sponsorship for the end of the year," said Moffitt. "Hopefully this will help out a little bit, and hopefully we can go win the championship."
Truex Has Strong Showing; Looking Towards Nationwide Series in 2009 With MWR
While his older brother is in the news with a possibility of switching rides and racing under the Michael Waltrip Racing banner next season, Ryan Truex is carving his own path to success at MWR. At South Boston Speedway (VA) for the NASCAR Camping World East Series event, the younger Truex snagged the pole position and lead early, but faded to third at the end of the race.
"First, I have to thank Michael Waltrip Racing and NAPA for being on board for this race," said Truex. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my crew. They set up the car and make it go fast. I just sit behind the steering wheel and turn it.
"Instead of tightening up like the track usually does, it was loosening up as the sun went down. We just kept getting looser and looser. I think those guys (Moffitt) started out tight and ended up perfect because he was sailing through the corners. I couldn't do anything with him. I am happy. It is better than where I have been finishing."
Truex might not have entered victory lane with his newer Toyota team affiliation, but it appears he will have many chances over multiple years to get there, as well as multiple series as he moves his way up the ranks of racing with Michael Waltrip Racing.
"Having Toyota is pretty good. They are the future," explained Truex. "They bring in a ton of money and they have a lot of good people over there at Michael Waltrip Racing. We will be in the shop and random people just come over and help us out. It is a team effort.
"Right now my deal (with Michael Waltrip Racing) is just to run the full Camping World East season this year. It is a one year contract with a two year extension I think, so hopefully next year I will run a few Nationwide races and probably Camping World East again."
Ryan Gifford Flexes Muscle to Finish Second
After starting 10th, Ryan Gifford was one of the more entertaining racers to watch during the 150-lap Camping World East race at South Boston. He used patience to work his way up to the top five, then to the second before the checkered flag dropped.
"The Shell Pennzoil Impala was great," said Gifford. "We just had to make the bottom work and it was amazing. I never thought there would be that much grip down there, so I was just making it work the best I could. I have raced here a couple of times in a Late Model and I think that did wonders for me.
"The guys have been beating into my head to save my stuff, so that is what I did. I really don't enjoy banging up race cars, so I took my time getting around traffic instead of forcing the issue. It paid off for me."
Lavender Holds Points Lead With Quiet Fourth-Place Finish
Jody Lavender didn't have the best car Saturday at South Boston, but he had what he needed to retain the lead in the NASCAR Camping World East Series points chase. Starting 11th, Lavender moved up to fourth by the end of the race, allowing him to keep the points lead over rookie Brett Moffitt.
"We started a bit further back than we would have liked for this type of race track," said Lavender. "We tried to pace ourselves and tried to let everyone else use up their equipment and make a run at the end.
"I needed a caution at the end. I had something for those guys, maybe not for the win, but I think I could have got to second at the end. Sometimes it works in your favor and sometimes it does not."
Max Gresham Puts a Period on the Rough Racer Stigma With Calm Fifth-Place Finish
All it takes is one race and one incident for a driver to be labeled out of control and a wrecker. For Max Gresham, that race was earlier this season in ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour. Despite going to victory lane multiple times during the season, a retaliatory incident during a yellow flag had some people calling Gresham a weapon on the track.
In his NASCAR Camping World East debut, Gresham put a period on that part of his racing career as he ran a solid and clean race, finishing fifth.
"It is the only time I have ever retaliated in Late Models," said Gresham. "It was a one-time thing. Honestly people congratulated me on it. I think tonight put an end to it and I think the race at Dillon put an end to it. We didn't bump anyone too hard.
"It (the CWE race) was different because I am used to running 100 laps. When we got to lap 100, they said 50 more to go, so I thought ok, let's go. It was a good race. We started sixth and finished fifth. I think I fell back to eighth at one point, but it was a tight race between everyone. We had fun and came back in one piece."