Daniel McFadin

Brett Moffitt seeks to join pantheon of NASCAR ‘stache champions

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The first question to Brett Moffitt wasn’t about his four wins or the sponsorship woes that nearly cost him his playoff eligibility.

No, it was the thin strip of hair above the 26-year-old’s lip that was the elephant in the room.

Make that the caterpillar in the room.

After almost a month of growth you can’t miss it, especially in a series made up mostly of follicle challenged drivers under the age of 25. At the Camping World Truck Series Playoff Media Day, only the working man’s beard of 42-year-old Matt Crafton rivaled it.

Moffitt’s ‘stache is arguably the most talked about in NASCAR – at least on this day – since Dale Earnhardt Sr. shaved his to go snorkeling in 1999 or Jeff Gordon attempted to regrow his infamous rookie year ‘stache in 2012.

Those happen to be the ‘staches that stand out to Moffitt in NASCAR history, which is filled by the glorious whiskers of Terry Labonte, Dale Jarrett, Tim Richmond, Richard Petty and Mike Skinner.

Noah Gragson, one of Moffitt’s seven playoff foes, is not impressed with Moffitt’s ‘stache.

The eight Truck Series playoff drivers and Brett Moffitt’s mustache. (Getty Images).

“I think I can grow a much better mustache than him,” Gragson said straight-faced. “If you gave me a day-and-a-half, I could grow a broom on my upper lip. It’s not too good. His isn’t that great. His looks like a 12-year-old’s mustache.”

Has the 20-year-old driver grown his own?

“I haven’t yet,” Gragson admitted. “I just know I could grow a good one like that.”

Smooth-faced at 35, Stewart Friesen is actually “a little jealous” of Moffitt, since his facial hair follicles don’t have it in them to “make a good playoff beard.”

“When we won (Super) Dirt Week in 2010, 2011, everybody on the crew grew a mustache,” Friesen said. “But now he’s got it, he’s flying the flag.”

Moffitt will look to fly the flag that was last carried by Jack Sprague.

Moffitt, in his first year with Hattori Racing Enterprises, isn’t very familiar with Sprague, who was Ron Hornaday Jr.’s primary rival in the Truck Series in the 90s.

He won three titles in 1997, 1999 and 2001. Moffitt was only 9 when Sprague and his ‘stache won their final title together, marking the last time a national NASCAR driver won a championship with nothing but a ‘stache on his face.

“That’d be pretty awesome then,” Moffitt said of possibly giving his team the first ‘stache title in 17 years. “Bringing it back to the early 2000s.”

The chance to become the first millennial ‘stache champion in NASCAR started as a joke.

Last month Moffitt challenged his team before the seven-race playoff started.

“I can’t grow a beard, so I couldn’t do a playoff beard,” Moffitt said. “But I could do a … mustache. I joked with them, ‘Whose going to be in on it?’ Most of them agreed.”

He started growing the mustache – his first serious attempt at facial hair – the week of his Aug. 3 K&N Pro Series East win at Watkins Glen. Since then he won his fourth Truck race at Michigan and placed 18th at Bristol.

Moffitt doesn’t even touch it as part of his daily hygienic routine.

“This is just natural,” Moffitt said. “Just let it go, baby.”

In the last week, the 2015 Cup Series Rookie of the Year started to get cold feet.

Monday evening, he posted a Twitter poll: Keep the ‘stache or “give in to the haters”?

Thanks to 77 percent of 1,273 votes, Moffitt will ride with his new facial companion all the way through the playoffs, which begins this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Matt Crafton’s beard prepares to do battle with Brett Moffitt’s mustache. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)

“I said the only way I’m going to shave it off is if I meet a really hot chick that says, ‘No, unless you get rid of the mustache,'” Moffitt declared.

What if a sponsor – one Moffitt is looking to back his low-funded No. 16 Toyota at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 13) and Texas Motor Speedway (Nov. 2) – doesn’t care for it?

“That’s not in my contract,” Moffitt said. “So I can have all the facial hair I want.”

Since it’s here to stay, Moffitt will try to make history.

Told Moffitt could have the first title ‘stache since Sprague, Crafton gave a hearty laugh.

He then said he’d do his best to “keep that from happening.”

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NASCAR mourns Kobe Bryant

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Joining their brethren in other sports, the NASCAR world took to social media upon learning the tragic news of the death of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, killed Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

Bryant had met a number of NASCAR drivers in his career, including Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano. They were among a number of NASCAR notables who took to social media to mourn Bryant:

 

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Chad Knaus and wife expecting second child

Photo courtesy Brooke Knaus official Instagram account
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Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion crew chief Chad Knaus and wife Brooke are expecting their second child.

Brooke made the announcement Saturday on her Instagram account.

The couple, already parents to one-year-old son Kip, will soon be adding a daughter to their growing family.

Brooke Knaus’s Instagram post said the baby is due in July.

Kip figured prominently in the baby revelation, coming at the end of mom and dad’s ski run while vacationing in Telluride, Colorado:

 

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Kyle Larson flips, misses finals of Australia’s biggest sprint car race

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Kyle Larson’s hope of following up last week’s Chili Bowl win with a triumph in Australia’s prestigious Grand Annual Sprint Car Classic fell far short Sunday.

Larson’s bid to race his way into the 24-car finals of the three-day race at Premier Speedway in Warrnambool, Australia, ended when he flipped (uninjured) on the opening lap of a last-chance qualifying heat race earlier in the evening.

Instead of being one of the featured drivers in the Classic’s 40-lap finale – the largest and most popular sprint car race of the year in the land down under – Larson was left to watch the event from the pits and cheer on Dyson Motorsport teammate and fellow American Carson Macedo.

Even that didn’t go very well, as Macedo flipped his own sprint car on the first lap of the Classic, resulting in a last-place finish. The highest finishing American was Cory Eliason, who ended up fourth.

Meanwhile, it was an all-Australian podium, with James McFadden winning the Classic for the second time in his career, followed by James Veal and Kerry Madsen.

In eight days, Larson went from capturing what he called the biggest win ever of his racing career on all levels – the Chili Bowl in his 13th try last Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma – to nothing but bad luck and utter frustration throughout his Australian journey.

Larson’s first race on Wednesday in the King’s Challenge at Borderline Speedway was rained out.

Then, in the first night of the Classic on Friday, Larson wrecked heavily in his first heat race, including flipping (he was uninjured). After his team repaired his car, Larson went back on the track, only to suffer a blown engine that knocked him out of contention to race in that evening’s feature event.

After not being on the schedule to race in Night 2 of the Classic on Saturday, Larson had one last chance to make Sunday’s featured championship event.

A total of 80 drivers battled it out in the B, C and D Mains for the eight remaining spots in the A Main, but Larson would end up not being one of those — as can be seen in the second line of the following tweet by his team:

Larson now returns to the United States to prepare for the Daytona 500 on February 16.

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Kyle Busch feeling like ‘the new guy’ during his Rolex 24 debut at Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Busch was looking forward to his first stint at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The two-time Cup champion was less enthused about his second turn behind the wheel in the IMSA season opener. Busch will climb back into the No. 14 Lexus RCF GT3 at 2 a.m. Sunday, just past the midpoint of the endurance race classic at Daytona International Speedway.

“That’s going to suck, yeah,” Busch deadpanned. “That’s exactly when I told them I did not want to run, and I got it.  Thank you very much.

“(I’m) the new guy.  I pulled the short straw.”

Click here to read more about how Busch felt about his AIM Vasser Sullivan car.