Phenomenal Runs for Brett Moffitt and Joe Gibbs Racing Team Grimes, Iowa (April 14, 2010) -- After two consecutive weeks of dominating performances, Brett Moffitt and the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) team were denied a finishing position that...
Phenomenal Runs for Brett Moffitt and Joe Gibbs Racing Team
Grimes, Iowa (April 14, 2010) -- After two consecutive weeks of dominating performances, Brett Moffitt and the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) team were denied a finishing position that reflected the quality of their phenomenal run at Phoenix International Raceway.
During the prior week at South Boston, Moffitt had settled in to bide his time while the early stages of the race developed. By lap 22, Moffitt was already approaching lap traffic. On a lap 32 re-start, Moffitt nosed past his teammate to lead lap 33. Although (Max) Gresham was able to sneak back by, he and Moffitt both pulled away from the field. The caution flag flew again on lap 69, and for the next 26 laps, Moffitt stuck to Gresham's rear bumper, often taking a look on the inside. Caution came out for the third time on lap 96, and as luck would have it, the caution was for the #20 Toyota of Moffitt. On the exit of turn four, Cole Whitt, who was running in third place behind Moffitt, bumped the rear of Moffitt's car, causing him to spin. Moffitt was relegated to the rear of the field and restarted in 22nd position, ending a very strong bid to repeat as the winner of the South Boston event. Remarkably in the few remaining laps, Moffitt rallied to finish the race in 6th.
On April 8th at Phoenix International Raceway, Moffitt's JGR prepared #11 Toyota was fast right off the trailer. During the first practice session, Moffitt and team put the car fifth on the speed charts. With some minor adjustments after the first practice, Moffitt turned a lap at 126.342 mph, just behind David Mayhew, who turned the fastest practice lap at 126.427 mph. Moffitt was the tenth car out to qualify and turned the Phoenix mile in 28.726 seconds, an average speed of 125.322. In the end, Moffitt's qualifying time was eighth quickest, putting him on the outside of the fourth row for the start of the "Jimmie Johnson Foundation 100". When asked about his qualifying run, Moffitt stated, "We were a bit slower than our practice times, but the temperature was hotter and so was the track surface. I think we will be OK for the race."
Moffitt was certainly right about the car being OK for the race. From the drop of the green, Moffitt was on the move. By lap three, he had moved up to 6th. On lap four, he blew into 5th. By lap 10, Moffitt was running 4th, and the top four cars had started to distance themselves from the field. On lap 17, Moffitt passed David Mayhew for third and began to close on pole sitter, Andrew Myers, for second. By lap 21, Moffitt passed Myers and set his sights on race leader, Greg Pursley. By lap 25, Pursley and Moffitt were encountering lap traffic, with Moffitt less than a second from Pursley's bumper. Caution flew on lap 31, and the leaders made their way to pit road. Moffitt pitted for a second time on lap 34 to take left side tires, with the race still under yellow. The green flag flew on lap 38 and in only two laps, Moffitt moved up from 15th to 5th, using the outside line. Caution on lap 41 and a red flag for cleanup on lap 42 were followed by yellow again on lap 43. Having moved up 11 spots in less than 5 laps, Moffitt was in 4th when the green flag flew on lap 46. On lap 47, he moved up to 2nd, following race leader Mayhew. Mayhew blew a right front tire, bringing the caution back out on lap 48, and putting Moffitt in first, after his 15th place restart on lap 38.
Moffitt led from the lap 54 restart through three more cautions, sometimes leading the second place car of Pursley by nearly two seconds and the third place car by over eight seconds, until lap 88. On a lap 88 restart, the second place car of Pursley made contact with the rear of Moffitt's car, sending Moffitt into a spin coming out of turn two. Moffitt found himself restarting from the rear of the lead lap field, with only 12 laps of racing remaining. The green flag came back out on lap 93, only to yield to another yellow on lap 98, followed by a red flag for clean up on lap 100. NASCAR officials announced to the teams that they would have one chance to finish the race under green. The green flag came out again on lap 102, and the race ended with the checkered flag two laps later. Coming from the rear of the field, Moffitt raced his way back to an 11th place finish, another phenomenal performance. In the end, Moffitt led the most laps with 36, and for his efforts, he received the Wix Filter Lap Leader Award.
After the race, the seventeen year old Moffitt, remained confident when asked about the lap 88 spin. "I won't deny that it was disappointing to lose this one. We had the best car on the track and the car to beat for most of the race. On the restart, my spotter cleared me. I had to check up a bit, and Greg (Pursley) got into my rear bumper. At that place on the track, the cars are pretty much on the ragged edge, and all it took was a bump to send me spinning. I really thought he (Pursley) would give me a little racing room. We had the dominant car and were leading by a straightaway before the caution, so I really wasn't expecting what happened. My crew deserves to be acknowledged. For the second week in a row, they put me in a position to win by giving me a car that dominated the rest of the field. While I am disappointed that we didn't win, I am very encouraged by our performance the last two weeks. Although I feel bad for the crew right now, I am confident that the wins will come," Moffitt concluded.
On a side note, Pursley was shown the black flag on lap 89 for aggressive driving; however, for some reason, NASCAR rescinded it on lap 91, immediately before the restart on lap 93.
After a few weeks off, Moffitt and the Joe Gibbs Racing #20 Toyota team will hit the track in Moffitt's home state, competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East/West Challenge on Saturday, May 23rd, at the Iowa Speedway, located in Newton, Iowa. Moffitt said that he is excited to race in front of his family, friends, and fans at his home track.