Brett Moffitt: ‘I’ll be ready’ when Truck Series resumes

Brett Moffitt
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It’s not strange to start a phone call, whether it’s with a friend or an interview subject, with the simple question of “How are you?”

But that question has a deeper meaning for Truck Series driver Brett Moffitt, who gives a hearty laugh when this is mentioned.

A month-and-a-half after breaking the femur in both his legs in a motorcross bike accident, how is Brett Moffitt doing?

“Honestly, pretty good,” Moffitt told NBC Sports on Wednesday. “I went to physical therapy this morning. They kind of kick your ass in that.”

When GMS Racing announced Moffitt’s injury on March 16, it came with an estimate that his rehabilitation would take six to eight weeks. It’s now been six weeks.

Moffitt said there’s “no clear answer” for when he’ll be cleared to compete in a truck again, but “I think 100% I’ll be ready before we get back to racing.”

Moffitt believes he’ll have another set of X-rays taken next week.

“They did X-rays three weeks ago now, two weeks out of surgery and there was already pretty good bone growth coming back,” Moffitt said. “It’s up to the doctors. They’ll do the X-rays next week and probably make a decision based off of that. … Hopefully I can keep progressing. Obviously, I feel like I’m ready.”

The 2018 Truck champion is already getting back behind the wheel, taking part in 45-minute sessions once or twice a week in a racing kart at the GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, North Carolina. He does it under the eye of trainer Josh Wise.

“If you can handle one of those (racing karts), you can definitely handle a truck,” Moffitt said. “The go-karts beat you up in a hurry. They’re extremely difficult to drive … and wear you out. … I was pretty pleased with the outcome. I tried to avoid the curves as much as I could. Did not really have the hard impacts, but I did get into them a few times on accident. … Those things hurt whether you have injuries or not.”

In addition to that, Moffitt has installed a new iRacing rig at his recently purchased home. Wise conducts private racing sessions with Moffitt and other Chevrolet drivers, like Ross Chastain and Sheldon Creed.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Moffitt said. “Sometimes it’ll be sports cars on road courses, sometimes it’ll be dirt cars. … It’s a good way to practice and try to get better. Probably been making my fiancé mad with how much time I’ve been spending on iRacing, but it’s been good.”

Moffitt can sit in his rig for “four to five hours at a time and be fine.”

Through all this, Moffitt hasn’t missed a single Truck Series race.

Moffitt’s accident occurred at friend’s house in Mooresville around 3 p.m. ET on March 14.

That was about the time that Moffitt would have been competing in the Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. But the day before, it and every NASCAR race through the following weekend (and eventually mid-May) were postponed due to the emerging danger of the COVID-19 pandemic. Moffitt flew back to North Carolina Friday night.

“Yeah, I should have been in a truck,” Moffitt said. “I’ve been telling people I don’t know which comes first, the chicken or the egg. Because this quarantine is a blessing for the recovery time, but it would never have happened had we been at the race track.”

Moffitt said he had a “good amount” of experience on dirt bikes and 4-wheelers growing up in Iowa, but on this day he “just messed up.”

Moffitt came up short on a double jump and hit his front tire on top of the landing ramp. He then went forward over the bars, but his feet stuck to the pegs.

“My bodyweight going over the handle bars I guess was enough to break the femurs,” Moffitt said. “They just kind of snapped over the handle bars, I do believe.”

After his surgery on Sunday, Moffitt left the hospital Tuesday and began the recovery process.

He quickly acquired a walker, a seat for his shower and a device with arm rests that let him get up from the toilet.

“I have everything I need for when I’m about 75 years old,” Moffitt joked.

The early parts of the recovery were “really painful. It was hard to sleep at night, obviously they give you pain killers and stuff. It was lot of pain up front.”

Moffitt said the early stages of rehab were “the highlights of my week,” with him attending on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“Basically the other days I would just sit on the couch all day and watch TV,” said Moffitt, who consumed Neflix’s “Tiger King” series and old episodes of “Family Guy,” “American Dad” and “Friends.”

“Initially it was kind of getting the mobility back, getting the muscles loosened up,” Moffitt said of his rehab. “Then they kind of jump right into strength as soon as possible. With breaking both the femurs, they put rods in both my legs up through the center of the bone essentially. As soon as that is done, you can then put full weight on your legs. Now, it’s really painful and most of the time your muscle can’t take it … But obviously, that’s the goal to get back to putting full weight (on it) as soon as possible.”

Wednesday’s therapy session included more leg strength work outs, including squats, balancing on one leg, and leg presses.

While he feels no discomfort when navigating the pedals in a kart or his iRacing rig, walking still has its issues.

“It’s just the outsides of my hips that are a little rough,” Moffitt said. “I now have a nice little waddle to me now. … We spent today working on getting rid of that waddle. It’s a little bit of a pain, currently, but I’m getting around pretty good. … You want to wake up and be healed one day and that’s just not the reality.”

When he’s back to being more like his pre-accident self, Moffitt is eager to go for a run.

“I was probably in the best running shape of my life right before this happened,” Moffitt said. “I did a half marathon at like a low eight-minute mile pace, which for me is really good. So that’s probably a big bummer, because I put in a lot of work to get good running. Hopefully, it comes back.”

What likely won’t be coming back are his dirt bike riding privileges.

Are there any new clauses in his contract with GMS Racing?

“It came with the medical bills, I believe,” Moffitt said. “Yeah, that one’s done.”

Drivers to watch in Clash at the Coliseum

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The 2023 NASCAR season will begin with Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum, the second race on a purpose-built track inside Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Although a non-points race, last year’s Clash generated intense interest as NASCAR moved the event from its long-time home at Daytona International Speedway to Los Angeles. The race was rated a success and opened doors for the possibility of future races in stadium environments.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: 10 historic moments in the Clash

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Year Two will find drivers competing on a familiar landscape but still with a track freshly paved. Last year’s racing surface was removed after the Clash.

Drivers to watch Sunday at Los Angeles:

FRONTRUNNERS

Joey Logano

  • Points position: Finished 2022 as Cup champion
  • Last three races: Won at Phoenix, 6th at Martinsville, 18th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: Won in 2022

Logano put bookends on 2022 by winning the first Clash at the Coliseum and the season’s final race at Phoenix to win the Cup championship. He’ll be among the favorites Sunday.

Ross Chastain

  • Points position: 2nd in 2022
  • Last three races: 3rd at Phoenix, 4th at Martinsville, 2nd at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: Did not qualify last year

Chastain was the breakout star of 2022, winning a pair of races and generally putting himself front and center across much of the year. Can he start 2023 on a big note? If so, he will have to do so without replicating his Hail Melon move at Martinsville after NASCAR outlawed the move Tuesday.

Kevin Harvick

  • Points position: 15th in 2022
  • Last three races: 5th at Phoenix, 16th at Martinsville, 8th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: 10th in 2022

Sunday will begin the final roundup for Harvick, who has said this season will be his last as a full-time Cup driver. He is likely to come out of the gate with fire in his eyes.

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

Kyle Busch

  • Points position: 13th in 2022
  • Last three races: 7th at Phoenix, 29th at Martinsville, 9th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: 2nd in 2022

Welcome to Kyle Busch’s Brave New World. After 15 seasons at Joe Gibbs Racing, he begins a new segment of his career with Richard Childress Racing. He led 64 laps at last year’s Clash but couldn’t catch Joey Logano at the end.

Tyler Reddick

  • Points position: 14th in 2022
  • Last three races: 23rd at Phoenix, 35th at Martinsville, 35th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: 21st in 2022

Reddick ran surprisingly strong in last year’s Clash, leading 51 laps before parking with drivetrain issues. He starts the new year with a new ride — at 23XI Racing.

Ty Gibbs

  • Points position: Won Xfinity Series championship in 2022
  • Last three (Cup) races: 19th at Martinsville, 22nd at Homestead, 22nd at Las Vegas
  • Past at Clash: Did not compete in 2022

After a successful — and controversial — Xfinity season, Gibbs moves up to Cup full-time with his grandfather’s team. Will he be the brash young kid of 2022 or a steadier driver in Season One in Cup?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interstate Batteries extends sponsorship with Joe Gibbs Racing

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Interstate Batteries, which has been a Joe Gibbs Racing sponsor since the team’s first race, has expanded its involvement with the team for 2023.

Interstate, based in Dallas, will be a primary JGR sponsor for 13 races, up from six races, the number it typically sponsored each year since 2008.

Christopher Bell and Ty Gibbs will run the majority of Interstate’s sponsorship races, but Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. also will carry the sponsor colors.

MORE: NASCAR outlaws Ross Chastain Martinsville move

“We’re extremely proud of our partnership with our founding sponsor, Interstate Batteries,” said team owner Joe Gibbs in a statement released by the team. “They have been such an important part of our team for over three decades now, and it’s exciting to have them on board all four of our cars this season. The best part of our partnership is the relationships we’ve built with everyone there over the years.”

Bell will carry Interstate sponsorship in Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum, the All-Star Race May 21, the Coca-Cola 600 May 28, at Texas Motor Speedway Sept. 24 and at Martinsville Oct. 29.

Gibbs, in his first full season in Cup racing, will be sponsored by Interstate at Daytona Feb. 19, Bristol April 9, Nashville June 25, Chicago July 2, Texas Sept. 24 and Charlotte Oct. 8.

Hamlin will ride with Interstate sponsorship March 26 at Circuit of the Americas, and Truex will be sponsored by Interstate July 23 at Pocono.

Interstate was a key JGR sponsor in the team’s first season in 1992.

NASCAR announces rule changes for 2023 season

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CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR announced a series of rule changes for the 2023 season that includes outlawing the move Ross Chastain made at Martinsville and eliminating stage breaks at all six Cup road course events.

NASCAR announced the changes in a session with reporters Tuesday at the NASCAR R&D Center.

Among new things for this season:

  • Updated penalty for a wheel coming off a car.
  • Change to the amount of time teams have to repair cars on pit road via the Damaged Vehicle Policy.
  • Change to playoff eligibility for drivers.
  • Cars could run in wet weather conditions on short ovals.
  • Expansion of the restart zone on a trial basis.
  • Choose rule will be in place for more races.

MORE: Ranking top 10 moments at the Clash

NASCAR updated its policy on a loose wheel. Previously, if a wheel came off a car during an event, it would be a four-race suspension for the crew chief and two pit crew members. That has changed this year.

If a wheel comes off a car while the vehicle is still on pit road, the vehicle restarts at the tail end of the field. If a wheel comes off a vehicle while it is on pit road under green-flag conditions, it is a pass-thru penalty.

The rule changes once a vehicle has left pit road and loses a wheel.

Any vehicle that loses a wheel on the track will be penalized two laps and have two pit crew members suspended for two races. The suspensions will go to those most responsible for the wheel coming off. This change takes away a suspension to the crew chief. The policy is the same for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks.

With some pit crew members working multiple series, the suspension is only for that series. So, if a pit crew member is suspended two races in the Xfinity Series for a wheel coming off, they can still work the Cup race the following day.

The Damaged Vehicle Policy clock will be 7 minutes this season. It had been six minutes last year and was increased to 10 minutes during the playoffs. After talking with teams, NASCAR has settled on seven minutes for teams to make repairs on pit road or be eliminated. Teams can replace toe links on pit road but not control arms. Teams also are not permitted to have specialized repair tools in the pits.

NASCAR will have a wet weather package for select oval tracks: the Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Lucas Oil Raceway Park, Martinsville, Milwaukee, New Hampshire, North Wilkesboro, Phoenix and Richmond.

Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition for NASCAR, said that teams have been told to show up at these events prepared for wet weather conditions as they would at a road course. That includes having a windshield wiper. Wet weather tires will be available. 

“Our goal here is to get back to racing as soon as possible,” Swayer said. “… If there’s an opportunity for us to get some cars or trucks on the racetrack and speed up that (track-drying) process and we can get back to racing, that’s what our goal is. We don’t want to be racing in full-blown rain (at those tracks) and we’ve got spray like we would on a road course.”

NASCAR stated that it is removing the requirement that a winning driver be in the top 30 in points in Cup or top 20 in Xfinity or Trucks to become eligible for the playoffs. As long as a driver is competing full-time — or has a waiver for the races they missed, a win will make them playoff eligible.

With the consultation of drivers, NASCAR is expanding the restart zone to give the leader more room to take off. NASCAR said it will evaluate if to keep this in place after the Atlanta race in March.

NASCAR stated the choose rule will be in effect for superspeedways and dirt races.

NASCAR eliminates stage breaks for Cup road course events

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CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR will do away with stage breaks in all six Cup road course races and select Xfinity and Truck races this season, but teams will continue to score stage points. 

NASCAR announced the change Tuesday in a session with reporters at the NASCAR R&D Center. 

MORE: NASCAR outlaws Ross Chastain Martinsville move

NASCAR stated there will be no stage breaks in the Cup road course events at Circuit of the Americas (March 26), Sonoma (June 11), Chicago street course (July 2), Indianapolis road course (Aug. 13), Watkins Glen (Aug. 20) and Charlotte Roval (Oct. 8).

There will be no stage breaks for Xfinity races at Circuit of the Americas (March 25), Sonoma (June 10), Chicago street course (July 1), Indianapolis road course (Aug. 12), Watkins Glen (Aug. 19) and Charlotte Roval (Oct. 7).

There will be no stage breaks for the Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas (March 25).

In those races, stage points will be awarded on a designated lap, but there will be no green-and-checkered flag and the racing will continue.

The only road course events that will have stage breaks will be Xfinity standalone races at Portland (June 3) and Road America (July 29) and the Truck standalone race at Mid-Ohio (July 8). Those events will keep stage breaks because they have non-live pit stops — where the field comes down pit road together and positions cannot be gained or lost provided the stop is completed in the prescribed time by NASCAR.

NASCAR has faced questions from fans and competitors about stage breaks during road course races because those breaks alter strategy in a more defined manner than on most ovals.

Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition for NASCAR, said the move away from stage breaks at road courses was made in collaboration with teams and response from fans.

“When we introduced stage racing … we took an element of strategy away from the event,” Sawyer. “Felt this (change) would bring some new storylines (in an event).”

NASCAR instituted stage breaks and stage points for the 2017 season and has kept the system in place since. NASCAR awards a playoff point to the stage winner along with 10 points. The top 10 at the end of a stage score points.

It wasn’t uncommon for many teams to elect to pit before the first stage in a road course race and eschew points to put themselves in better track position for the final two stages. By pitting early, they would be behind those who stayed out to collect the stage points. At the stage break, those who had yet to pit would do so, allowing those who stopped before the break to leapfrog back to the front.