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Brett Moffitt joins GMS Racing to defend Truck title

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GMS Racing announced Thursday that reigning NASCAR Truck champion Brett Moffitt will drive the team’s No. 24 ride in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. GMS Racing made the announcement a day after stating that Johnny Sauter would not return to the team.

“I’m excited to be given the chance to defend my 2018 championship,” Moffitt said in a statement from the team. “I have to thank the Gallagher family and everyone at GMS for this opportunity. I can’t wait to start working with Jerry (Baxter, crew chief) and the guys to kick off the season at Daytona in a few weeks.”

Moffitt needed a ride after he was replaced by Austin Hill at Hattori Racing. Despite winning the championship, Hattori Racing struggled to find sponsorship throughout the season. Moffitt said after winning the title in November he didn’t know where he would drive this season.

The 26-year-old Moffitt won six races last year. He has seven career Truck wins in 36 starts.

“Brett will be an excellent addition to the GMS organization,” GMS team president Mike Beam said in a statement. “Last year he showed the racing world the amount of talent and determination he has, especially while facing some adversity throughout the season. We look forward to helping him win his second championship and ours as well.

“We have a strong driver lineup in every series we’ll compete in this year. Maury Gallagher has given us the tools and personnel we need to compete for several championships.”

In a Thursday afternoon teleconference, Moffitt called the signing an “11th hour” deal and said discussions between him and GMS started “in-between the holidays. They just wanted to see what I could bring to them and what they could for me and if I was still available.”

Moffitt said “a few existing partners” that have been with him through the years will be on the No. 24, but he’s not sure how often.

Even with those partners, Moffitt said staying with Hattori was “never an option.”

“Quite frankly, I don’t think it would have been enough to move the needle,” Moffitt said. “I think GMS has given us a really good platform where we can take some of our current partners and their current partners and help build it all.”

Before the GMS opportunity arrived, Moffitt said he “had options open.”

“None of them that would necessarily lead to me being in race-winning equipment, which is what I wanted ultimately,” Moffitt said. “A few opportunities in less than impressive Cup stuff. We had talked with some Xfinity teams as well. The biggest thing for me is to go out and try to compete for a championship and win races. I was kind of holding out and hoping a deal like this would come together.”

Moffitt said he considered at one point settling for opportunities to run limited races in winning equipment.

He said the deal from GMS was the “best deal out there by far and I think it’ll be one of the best positions I’ve been in in my career.”

Moffitt cited a relationship with GMS that originated in one Xfinity Series start for the team in 2017 when he finished 11th at Iowa Speedway.

“Just kind of always been in talks on-and-off,” Moffitt said. “When this opportunity opened up to them, I believe I was the first person they called about it. I’m just glad we were able to make it happen.”

The rest of the GMS Racing lineup for 2019 features:

  • Rookie Sheldon Creed in the No. 2 Truck with Doug Randolph as crew chief.
  • John Hunter Nemechek in the No. 23 Xfinity car with Chad Norris as crew chief.
  • Sam Mayer in the No. 21 K&N Pro Series East ride. He’ll also run limited ARCA and Truck races.

GMS Racing also stated that Halmar Friesen Racing renewed its technical alliance with GMS Racing to field the No. 52 for Stewart Friesen.

Daniel McFadin contributed to this report

Xfinity, Truck series banquet highlights

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On Saturday night, The Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series gathered for their awards banquet at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Here are some highlights from the banquet:

Xfinity Series

Tyler Reddick was crowned the Xfinity driver champion with Stewart-Haas Racing taking the owners championship.

Cole Custer finished second, Daniel Hemric was third and Christopher Bell finished fourth.

Camping World Truck Series

Brett Moffitt and owner Hattori Racing Enterprises grabbed the top spot in the Truck series.

Noah Gragson finished second with Justin Haley third and Johnny Sauter fourth.

 

Truck championship contender still hunting for money this season

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JOLIET, Ill. – Brett Moffitt continued the feel-good story of the 2018 Camping World Truck Series, winning Friday night’s Overton’s 225 at Chicagoland Speedway.

The victory happened when leader John Hunter Nemechek lost power on the final lap, but Moffitt’s chances of taking the checkered flag for the third time this year were uncertain long before that.

With Hattori Racing still struggling to secure sponsorship, the team considered parking early in Friday’s race.

“We have discussed many, many scenarios,” crew chief Scott Zipadelli said. “That was probably the least favorable one.

“But at the end of the day there was probably a good chance that we would have to do something like that. It’s never good to be in a position to where you don’t know if you’re going to go race or you had the funding for this week or next week, but we did talk about that. … I hope we don’t have to have that conversation again.”

The team picked up a last-minute sponsorship deal with Fr8Auction to race at Chicagoland. Moffitt said the No. 16 Toyota still needs money to run Bristol Motor Speedway, Eldora Speedway and at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Per NASCAR rules, the team must attempt to qualify for every regular-season race to maintain its playoff berth (with three wins ranking second on the circuit, Moffitt is a virtual lock to contend for the championship.

Team owner Shige Hattori said the team was getting closer to being funded for the season finale.

“Every win definitely helps,” he said. “We’re working really hard to find more money. It’s tough. We’re a really good team. We want to keep going. Definitely, Moffitt is a really good driver and racer. That’s a big help for sponsorships.”

Moffitt is a 25-year-old from Grimes, Iowa, who has 71 starts across the Cup, Xfinity and truck series but is in the midst of what would be his first full-time shot at a title in NASCAR’s top three national series.

He said the key to Hattori Racing’s success is “badass people. That’s the truth. We didn’t start the race that good tonight. I gave the team one adjustment, and we were great. It goes all the way from the bottom up in our shop and we have quality people. Quality pit crew.

“And we’re all passionate and work really hard. That’s all that matters.”

Hattori Racing hires Brett Moffitt to drive No. 16 Truck

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Brett Moffitt, the 2015 Cup rookie of the year, will drive for Hattori Racing in the Camping World Truck Series this season. He replaces Ryan Truex, who moved to the Xfinity Series to drive for Kaulig Racing.

Moffitt will be reunited with crew chief Scott Zipadelli. They worked together for six Truck races in 2016 at Red Horse Racing. Moffitt scored his first career Truck win at Michigan with Zipadelli as crew chief. Moffitt drove one Truck race for Hattori Racing in 2013.

“This is an awesome opportunity for me to reunite with Shige Hattori and get back into a position to win races,” Moffitt said in a team release. “I’m excited about the opportunity to work with so many familiar faces. I believe the people in place at HRE are the right group for us to find a lot of success.

“Working with (Zipadelli) again makes this opportunity even better. We had a great stretch together a couple years ago, especially winning at Michigan. Hopefully we can do that again, because Zippy, Shige, and everyone at HRE have built an impressive program over the last two years.”