NASCAR & Auto Racing

Brett Moffitt off to great start in NASCAR Sprint Cup year

Rides were at a premium for Brett Moffitt when the 2015 NASCAR season began.

He began the year with one race scheduled, last weekend at Atlanta. This week, he added three more starts in the Sprint Cup Series, including Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Some more performances in the coming weeks like his eighth-place finish last Sunday at Atlanta and Moffitt, 22, may well make his dream of becoming a full-time Cup series driver come true sooner rather than later.

“I think we all have different stories of how we got here and how we stay here,” said Moffitt, who served as a substitute for Michael Waltrip Racing driver Brian Vickers last week in the No. 55 Toyota.

“I have gone through struggles of not knowing if I would have a job in the sport or not from year to year.”

After his performance at Atlanta, Front Row Motorsports offered Moffitt the opportunity to drive its No. 34 Ford in three upcoming Cup races in place of regular driver David Ragan. Ragan is subbing for the injured Kyle Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Friday night, Moffitt qualified 36th for Sunday’s race.

“This opportunity at Front Row Motorsports will be in a car we can go compete with other cars and race inside the top 25 and get to racing door-to-door with the other cars out there,” Moffitt said.

“That is what I need to learn, and it will be nice to be in the car multiple weeks in a row. That is new for me. Last year was race-to-race, and we would pick and choose.”

While Moffitt does not have a steady job, he does have some security. He is under a multiyear contract with MWR, which hopes to field him in a third Cup car if sponsorship can be obtained.

In the meantime, MWR is willing to allow the native of Grimes, Iowa, to explore opportunities with other organizations to gain track time.

Vickers, who returns to action this weekend after missing the season’s first two races while recovering from a second heart surgery, has been keeping a close eye on Moffitt’s progress.

Vickers has spent a lot of time with Moffitt testing over the past couple of years and watched him progress.

“I think that Brett – he’s a good young man, he’s a good driver,” Vickers said Friday. “I’ve seen his potential. He needs experience.

“I don’t know that he necessarily exceeded or didn’t succeed in his expectations. My expectation was that he would do well, and that’s why MWR wanted to give him that chance.

“I think he’s been a valuable asset to MWR. I think he could be unquestionably a contender in any series.”

Moffitt understands Front Row Motorsports is not on par with MWR in terms of size and funding but still hopes to make the most out of what chances he gets behind the wheel.

“It is all about patience in these races,” he said. “They are very long races. I think I learned a lot of that in Atlanta even in a well-funded car and a factory team.

“We started out not needing where we needed to be as far as the car last week and ended up really well. It is about mentally not defeating yourself and being there in the end.”

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter