One person’s misfortune is often followed by another’s good fortune.
That’s the case for Grimes native Brett Moffitt, who’s trying to make the most out of his new-found opportunity to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the nation’s No. 1 "stock car" series.
For the third straight Sprint Cup weekend, Moffitt has found himself in the field, but it took a series of incidents to put him there.
A contracted test driver for Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota, Moffitt got his first chance behind the wheel of the No. 55 MWR Toyota at Atlanta nearly three weeks ago. He earned that ride while the car’s regular driver, Brian Vickers, completed his recovery from December heart surgery. Moffitt made the most of that chance, finishing in the top 10 and staying on the lead lap with the sport’s best drivers.
Moffitt earned some solid comments from announcers during the nationally-televised race and his Atlanta effort drew notice among NASCAR car owners.
That also earned Moffitt a shot behind the wheel for another team and that open seat went way back to the season opening weekend in Daytona Beach, Florida. Kyle Busch suffered severe leg injuries in a crash during the Xfinity Series race and is recovering at home. In his absence, Joe Gibbs racing named David Ragan to drive the No. 18 Sprint Cup car.
In turn, that opened a seat with Front Row Motorsports’ No. 34 Ford for team owners Jimmy "Smut" Means, himself a former NASCAR competitor, and restaurant entrepreneur Bob Jenkins.
Front Row Motorsports is far less funded than are some of the series’ elite teams, but for Moffitt, it’s another shot at the big time.
Moffitt was able to qualify the car for races in Las Vegas and Phoenix – both races won by Kevin Harvick – and he finished 34th at Las Vegans and 32nd at Phoenix, three laps behind the winner on both Sundays.
When Moffitt agreed to drive for Front Row Motorsports, it was a three-race deal. The third race of that initial agreement comes this Sunday in the Auto Club 500 at the two-mile Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, Calif., a track built by Roger Penske and currently owned by International Speedway Corp., of Daytona Beach, Fla.
Sunday’s race was Moffitt’s first-ever Sprint Cup experience on the tricky Phoenix International Raceway, although he tested there a year ago and raced in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at the track in 2010. He finished 11th in that event.
"I had the chance to test at Phoenix last year," Moffitt said. "I actually tested this 2015 rule package, so that will be helpful for me. It’s been crazy the last couple weeks, getting ready for this West Coast trip and getting adjusted to the new team. So, a lot of new things are happening, but we will do our best to keep up with the changes and head in the right direction."
Even though Kyle Busch is expected to be sidelined from competition for several more weeks, there are no guarantees for the 22-year-old Moffitt beyond this Sunday. Another "statement" run, like he had a Atlanta, however, could change all that.