It was supposed to be just a one-race fill-in job for Brett Moffitt.
But in replacing Brian Vickers for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Atlanta, Moffitt may very well have increased his stock and opened a number of eyes, particularly among team owners.
In just the eighth Sprint Cup start of his career, Moffitt wheeled Vickers’ No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota to an eighth-place finish.
He drove smart, stayed out of trouble, and finished higher than some of the biggest names in the sport, including previous Sprint Cup champions.
“We can all go fast in a car by ourselves, but it’s racing around 42 other guys and keeping the car under control,” Moffitt said when asked what were some of the things he learned in the race.
“Atlanta has a lot of tire fall off, so being able to run the majority of a run – 40, 50 laps – and still be good at the end paid off a lot,” he added. “Our car had great speed.”
It was an unforgettable run for the 22-year-old from Grimes, Iowa … as opposed to his mostly forgettable Sprint Cup record coming into Sunday. He made seven starts last season (six for Jay Robinson Racing, one with Michael Waltrip Racing), with a best finish of 22nd in the spring race at Dover.
Every other finish ranged from 34th to 42nd with DNFs at the Bristol night race (engine) and the Texas fall race (crash). He also failed to qualify for the Brickyard 400.
“This is truly amazing,” Moffitt said of his day. “We showed good speed all weekend long. … I kept learning how to be more aggressive on the restarts and use other people’s air to benefit me.
“I can’t thank Michael Waltrip Racing, Toyota and Aaron’s enough for this opportunity. Definitely learned a lot out there. Wish I could be in the car more often.”