Why was 2020 the right time for Chris Our to start fielding a full-time Xfinity Series team?
“I don’t know when the right time was,” Our told NBC Sports with a laugh.
When the NASCAR season opened in February, the Xfinity Series arrived at Daytona International Speedway and with it was Our’s No. 02 Chevrolet.
MORE: A viewer’s guide to Monday night’s Xfinity race at Bristol
After dabbling in the Whelen Modified Series – including fielding entries for the late Mike Stefanik – and recording 14 ARCA Menards Series starts from 2016-19, Our set the team’s sights on the Xfinity Series.
“You know, a lot of it is the payouts and the way the financial mechanism works,” said Our, a native of the Cape Cod region in Massachusetts, who operates a concrete and construction company.
“We have the ARCA series but there’s an expense there as far as the engines,” Our said. “It’s a lot of the same components as the Xfinity Series, but (ARCA) really doesn’t pay out much. …
“So it’s a big difference. I know there’s more tire bills, but the people don’t recognize the ARCA series like they do the Xfinity, so it’s definitely easier to bring better sponsors to you to help. That’s kind of one of the reasons we stepped up … there was no particular reason we started this year. It would just seem like it all worked.”
It’s worked in part due to aid from GMS Racing. Our bought five of his six cars after GMS shut down its Xfinity operation at the end of 2019.
“With GMS getting out of it, we started talking with them about some of the chassis and cars and it just seemed like it would work, right?” Our said. “Then we were able to pick up Joe (Williams) as the crew chief. We had a lot of the equipment (from the ARCA Series). We had the haulers, we had all the tools. We had all that, it was just the actual chassis and motors that changed.”
One of the most important pieces of the Our Motorsports – which has seven employees including its truck driver – was who would drive No. 02.
“We wanted experience to come out of the box at Daytona,” Our said.
That experienced arrived in the form of Brett Moffitt, the GMS Racing driver who won the 2018 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series championship.
While competing full-time in Trucks, Moffitt has been in the No. 02 for the first six Xfinity races of the season, returning when the series did at Darlington after he recovered from fracturing both his legs in March.
“Honestly it’s been really good,” Moffitt said last week prior to his sixth-place finish at Charlotte, the team’s best finish. “I’ve been quoted in the past and I still own up to it today that I’m not going to drive cars just to drive them and say I’m in the Xfinity race. It has to be a team that I feel like can really go out and compete. And so far this year, Our Motorsports has proven that they can compete.”
Through six races Moffitt has finished outside the top 20 once, in the season opener at Daytona (24th) due to a late-race crash. He placed 11th at Darlington in his first race there since 2015.
“I feel like they’re doing a very, very good job at bringing me competitive race cars for the budget that they have,” Moffitt said. “It’s a lot of fun because we’re beating guys that we should not be beating and it’s motivation all race long to do that. …
“Eleventh place (at Darlington) doesn’t sound like a ton, but if you look at it on paper what Our Motorsports has versus what Joe Gibbs has and we beat two of their cars. It’s a pretty damn good day. So it’s a lot of fun for me and it’s just gaining experience at the end.”
Our hopes his young team can be a fixture “on top of that second tier” of teams. Using equipment from GMS – which finished 13th in the owner standings in 2019 – gives Our a goal of 13th or 14th. The team is currently 16th.
Moffitt won’t be in the No. 02 tonight at Bristol Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET on FS1). While he’ll be in the car at Atlanta, Talladega and likely Miami, Our Motorsports will field 28-year-old modified driver Patrick Emerling in his first Xfinity start.
A native of Orchard Park, New York, Emerling is a two-time champion of the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series. He’s no stranger to Bristol, having won a 2017 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race on the track. He’ll start 20th due to a random draw.
“My goal is to go out there and finish the race and not extend myself out of my comfort box,” Emerling told The Buffalo News. “I’m going to be doing a lot of learning. That’s the idea. This being my first Xfinity race, I just need to get laps in and learn more about the cars. I’ve been iRacing on the computer and watched videos. I am talking to people and doing everything I can to find out every little detail I can.”
Our said Emerling is approved by NASCAR to compete on a mile-and-a-quarter length tracks at the moment.
“With everything (related to the COVID-19 pandemic) going on, we didn’t know when (those races were) gonna happen, except we knew Bristol was going to happen right now,” Our said. “So we kind of talked a little bit and I gave him the opportunity to be able to get in the car for Bristol. And hopefully we do well, he has a good finish, you know, stays clean and then he can get approved to maybe go up to a mile-and-a-half (tracks) with NASCAR for later on.”
Of the Bristol race, which will be run without practice, Our said “I’ll be nervous about it, there’s no question. … I’d be nervous even if it was Brett.”