Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Emotionally Draining Month for Hattori Racing, But Championship Hopes Stay Alive

By Brian Eberly, Contributing Writer

JOLIET, Ill. — What a month of June it’s been for Iowa native Brett Moffitt. The 25-year-old driver went to victory lane at his home track of Iowa Speedway and sits third in the championship standings as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series readies to compete in the Overtons 225 on Friday night at Chicagoland Speedway.

But it was uncertain whether the Hattori Racing No. 16 Toyota would get loaded on the hauler and make the trek from North Carolina to Illinois all the way up until Wednesday afternoon. In today’s motorsports sponsorship environment, two wins and five top-five finishes in the first 10 races doesn’t guarantee the necessary funding and the Hattori team won’t field a start-and-park effort. If it weren’t for FR8Auctions stepping up, Moffitt wouldn’t be competing this weekend and as a result his championship hopes would have ended.

“It certainly feels good,” Moffitt said of what it meant to be at Chicagoland. “It was a very long and stressful week Monday through Wednesday. Finally on Wednesday afternoon this deal came together. I cannot thank Fr8Auctions enough. I was introduced to them back in 2015 at Homestead (Homestead-Miami Speedway) and we have always been in contact. They said if we ever need any help, they would love to step up and help out. It means the world to us that they helped get us here to Chicago and hopefully we can go out there and win a race for them.”

The key to getting to victory lane will be beating the GMS Racing Chevrolets, which have won five of the 10 races in 2018, four with Johnny Sauter and last weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park with Justin Haley.

I think you have to execute the whole race. The short-tracks are a little easier to pass and make up positions if you fall behind. The 1.5-mile tracks are tough unless you get a restart. I think executing the whole race. Staying upfront and keeping track position is the best way to pull into Victory Lane.”

While the performance of Moffitt and the Hattori organization has been strong, he can’t help but wonder what could be if it weren’t for the sponsorship struggles.

“Yeah, it sucks to be honest with you. I really didn’t know until Wednesday afternoon whether we were coming or racing. But luckily everything came together there. It’s really been this past month that’s been mentally and emotionally draining. It’s unfortunate for us because I think our truck program is so strong right now. And that’s with all of this as a distraction. I feel like if we could just focus on the race trucks and making our race team stronger and not have to worry about the sponsorships or finances, we could be even better yet.”

Moffitt has sponsorship for the next Truck Series event at Kentucky Speedway, but the next race at Eldora Speedway is a question mark on the Hattori schedule. Races at Bristol Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway are also open.

“We still have a few more to go but hopefully we can work through it.”

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