By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
For this week’s edition of Climbing the Ladder, Seth Eggert sat down with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Brett Moffitt. Moffitt is the 25-year-old driver of the No. 16 AISIN Group Toyota Tundra for Hattori Racing Enterprises.
He is currently locked into the 2018 Playoffs via his win at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Moffitt was the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
Seth Eggert: How did you become interested in Motorsports?
Brett Moffitt: “I started go-karting when I was 10 or 11. It was honestly just a hobby for my Dad and I to start to do together. We got pretty good at it and just kept moving up the ladder. I’m just a competitive person and it’s a good way to compete.”
SE: Was it difficult for you to convince your parents to let you race professionally?
BM: “No (laughs). We spent enough money racing, so it was about time we make some back. Racing professionally is the goal of everyone in racing, and we’re just fortunate enough to make it here.”
SE:Where and when was your first race? What was the result?
BM: “It was a Jamaica Raceway in Iowa, a go-kart track, quarter-mile asphalt track. The result was very bad, I was slow.”
SE: Who would you consider your mentor?
BM: “I don’t know about a mentor, but I have a lot of people I look up to. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon when I was younger. In recent years, more Johnson because of everything he’s done on and off the track. I think he’s a good role model.”
SE: What inspires you to compete?
BM: “I hate losing. Just plain and simple. I hate losing no matter what it is. That’s what drives me.”
SE: You have won at Michigan International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. Is there a specific track that you want to win at?
BM: “Every single one of them. There’s a couple that’s really special to me. Iowa, this year, will be really special because it’s my home state. Other than that, I want to win every week.”
SE: You won at Michigan for Red Horse Racing, started the 2017 season with them, only for the team to shut down due to a lack of funding. Is it frustrating for that ride to fall out of your grasp?
BM: “Yeah, of course. That’s the second time I’ve been through that, being signed up with Michael Waltrip Racing, and having that shut down. I thought Red Horse was going to be a sturdy home, and a great place to get some experience in 2017. After Charlotte (last year), we all went to the shop on Monday and got told that we no longer have jobs. It was pretty heartbreaking being that Red Horse Racing was such a great team in the Truck Series, but you move on and find new opportunities.”
SE: This deal came together just weeks before Daytona. How exactly did you get the opportunity to race for Shige Hattori?
BM:“I think it’s a lot of past relationships for the most part. I ran for Shige back in the K&N days, and Mike Greci, who runs the shop at HRE, when I was running the Waltrip car, I was his driver. Obviously, Scott Zipadelli and I have worked a lot together in the past, and when we have, we had a lot of success. Just being known by all of them, and they all have confidence in me, and I have confidence in them. It just worked out that we were able to get a deal together and go racing.”
SE: With the limited time before the start of the season, how were you able to gel with the team so quickly?
BM: “Same answer. Just knowing everyone so well. Most of the guys on the team I’ve worked with in the past, a lot of them are from MWR, a couple from Red Horse. It makes everything go together when you know everybody’s personality and how they work.”
SE: You had some choice words for lapped traffic and NASCAR after the Las Vegas race earlier this year. Are you still frustrated over how that race unfolded?
BM: “Hell yeah. It was just as bad last week as it was in Vegas. There’s no point in those guys racing. I mean, they’re getting lapped every four or five laps first of all. Second, they can’t even hold a line. They go in on the bottom and then run up to the top. It doesn’t bring anything to the sport or to the show to have them out there. I’m not sure why NASCAR hasn’t done more about it.”
SE: Your team, Hattori Racing Enterprises, has used the OEM engine. Do you feel that there is an advantage or a disadvantage to one engine versus the other?
BM: “I think they both have their ups and downs for sure. It’s shown in qualifying that we don’t have quite the horsepower. But what we lack there, we make up in drivability and raceability. For us, Toyota’s given us a tremendous amount of support and tools to use. That’s what’s made our team so strong, so we’re going to stay with Toyota.”
SE: You moved into the Cup Series in 2015 in what was supposed to be just a substitute role. 31 races later, you earned Rookie of the Year honors, and then you were out of a ride. Can you describe the range of emotions from that year?
BM: “It’s just a rollercoaster. This whole sport is. One minute, you’re a hero, and the next, you’re nothing. They hurt less and less each time I will say because it’s happened so many times. You keep your guard up more now with that experience, and the other experiences that go along with it. That’s not the only one. It was heartbreaking, but that’s just the way the sport works.”
SE: You recently tested one of Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks. Are there any other disciplines of racing that you would want to try?
BM: “I’ll race anything. If it’s got an engine and wheels, I’ll race it, ride it, I’ll do whatever. I just happened to run into Robby Gordon and started shooting the breeze with him and he said, ‘Come out, we’re testing Monday night.’ So, I did, and man, that thing was a blast to drive. And I’m still trying to convince him to let me go and race them.”
SE: If you had the chance to race one of them, where would it be?
BM: “I’m trying for Texas. I don’t know if it’s going to work or not, but they race the day after us in Texas in a couple weeks, so I’m still hoping for an opportunity there.”
SE: What does the future hold for you, where will you be one year from now?
BM: “I have no idea. The past experience I have, you just never know where you’ll end up. Hopefully we can win races this year and contend for and win a Championship, and that would boost my career.”