The Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series finally returns tonight at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Brett Moffitt is “nervous” about it.
Moffitt, who fractured both his legs in March and recovered in time to make his NASCAR return in last week’s Xfinity race at Darlington, is concerned about some of drivers who will start in his vicinity.
In the series’ first race since Feb. 21, a random draw to sort the starting lineup placed the 2018 champion 22nd in a 40-truck field.
“I am nervous because I felt like going into the Xfinity race after watching two Cup races (at Darlington), I feel like everyone gets excited and gets built up and maybe sometimes the drivers don’t think about, okay, well, that’s a different car and a different package,” Moffitt said Sunday. “So it makes me a little nervous to fire off side-by-side with them. And if you look at the starting grid, obviously, with the random draw, it’s a very mixed up grid compared to what we’re used to. …
“So obviously, I’m excited to go racing, but it is a little nerve-racking kind of looking at the grid and looking at where we’re at. And some of the people in front of us, I don’t have all the faith in the world with so it’ll be interesting. It’ll make for great entertainment, I’m sure, but it’ll be wild.”
No matter what happens, it’ll likely be hard for the events of the 134-lap race to match what Moffitt went through last Thursday at Darlington.
In the Xfinity Series’ first race back since NASCAR’s COVID-19 shutdown, Moffitt returned to the cockpit of the Our Motorsports’ No. 02 car.
Due to the pandemic, Moffitt didn’t miss any Xfinity or Truck Series starts while he recovered from his leg injuries. However, it was Moffitt’s first start at Darlington since the 2015 Cup race there.
All those ingredients contributed to it being one of the “top five emotional” races of Moffitt’s career.
“Most people wouldn’t look at it on paper and think that, but there’s very few races in my life where I actually get that excited and that emotional,” Moffitt said. “I would classify it up there with finishing eighth at Atlanta in the Cup race (2015) and classify it with winning a championship. It doesn’t trump that by any means, the championship is still better, but to get back to the track after everything I’ve been through in the last 10 weeks, and to have a really good day. I kind of surprised myself, and I was just proud of everything that everyone at Our Motorsports did to bring me a fast car.”
Moffitt started 22nd and went on to place 11th, which was Our Motorsports’ best finish before Moffitt placed sixth Monday night at Charlotte.
“I would call it a big win personally for me after everything I went through. Obviously, it’s a weird time, right?” Moffitt said. “I’m just really excited to get back to, I guess, our normal and continue on.”
That return to normal continues tonight with the Truck Series race (8 p.m. ET on FS1) as Moffitt is back behind the wheel of GMS Racing’s No. 23 Chevrolet. In all three of Moffitt’s races since last week, Moffitt has secured the 22nd-place starting spot via a random draw.
“I’m beginning to think it’s not very random,” Moffitt joked.
The field of 40 trucks – 47 entered – is a number the series hasn’t seen in years, with the maximum field typically set at 32 trucks. It’s a result of a decision by NASCAR to ensure the “long-term health” of the Xfinity and Truck Series amid the COVID-19 pandemic while the sport doesn’t hold qualifying to determine staring lineups.
“We didn’t have that many (entries) in Daytona,” Moffitt observed. “So I think that kind of speaks for the longevity of the series, being that there are 47 trucks out there … So that was really cool and good for the series. But at the same time, there were a lot of good trucks that got sent home and there’s a lot of quality race trucks in the field. So it’s gonna be kind of different relative to our normal in the Truck series, having that many trucks out there and having quality equipment all the way through the field really.
“So I think it’s going to make a better race and with the random draw obviously, we saw at Darlington that’s very exciting. So having good trucks starting all the way through the field will just be a great product of racing.”
or 2,280 hours…
or 136,800 minutes…
but who's counting?
— Brett Moffitt (@Brett_Moffitt) May 26, 2020