LAS VEGAS — Story by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images for NASCAR photo —
Brett Moffitt was officially honored as the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year on Thursday during the NMPA Myers Brothers Luncheon in Las Vegas.
The 23-year-old Grimes, Iowa native competed in 31 of the 36 races on the schedule for two different teams: Michael Waltrip Racing and, most notably, Front Row Motorsports.
25 of Moffitt’s starts this season came behind the wheel of the No. 34 CSX/Play it Safe Ford for FRM, which he took over full-time following David Ragan’s departure from the team to drive for Michael Waltrip Racing, but the Iowan’s best finish of the season came in the No. 55 MWR Toyota — an eighth place result at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March when he led his first of two laps to date in Sprint Cup competition.
While his plans for 2016 are undetermined at the present time, Moffitt was appreciative of the opportunities he received over the course of the season, beginning with subbing for Brian Vickers after the veteran experienced a recurrence of blood clots and continuing when he took over Ragan’s ride for the balance of the season.
“This season, for me, started with one race on the schedule [at Atlanta],” Moffitt said, “so to be standing in front of you all as the 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year is truly an honor. First, thanks to Rob Kauffman [former team co-owner at Michael Waltrip Racing], because without you I wouldn’t have had this awesome opportunity and I probably would be back framing houses for my dad — so he probably appreciates the help too.”
“Ty Norris [former MWR general manager] has been my biggest fan since day one, and he’s another big reason why I’m standing here today. He’s always pushed me; he’s always fought for me, and that means the world. Michael Waltrip has been a great owner the last few years for me, going back to when we worked together in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and nearly won the series championship a couple of different times. To have him as a mentor, you pick up some things that are positives and other things that you should probably stay away from (laughs).”
“That one race in Atlanta exceeded everyone’s expectations … and after a lengthy game of musical chairs, I finally found a home at Front Row Motorsports for the balance of the season. Bob Jenkins [team owner] and everyone at Front Row Motorsports gave me the opportunity to learn and to develop my skills further as a young rookie in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. For that, I will be forever thankful.”
Moffitt is a charter member of the NASCAR Next (formerly NASCAR’s Next 9) initiative, which began in 2011 to help seek out and groom the next generation of NASCAR talent for media and future career opportunities.
“The NASCAR NEXT program helped groom me into a better driver, both on and off the track,” Moffitt said. “It’s a privilege to be a NEXT alumni and the opportunities I received there have prepared me for where I am [in my career] today.”
While the young star doesn’t know what his future holds, he does know that his experience in 2015 is not one he would trade after having gone through it.
“I may not have settled what’s ahead just yet, but this year has been an honor from all sides and I’m so thankful to have been able to accomplish everything I did at the premier level of stock car racing.”
“Thanks to my parents; who I definitely wouldn’t have gotten here without. My dad said after we got about five races in that he didn’t think he [and my mom] would be able to make it to every race, and he ended up going to all of them in the end. He’s only missed one race in my entire career, and to have their support has been so special and something that I’m very, very appreciative of.”
Moffitt’s combined efforts were enough to finish 34th in the Sprint Cup driver points standings in 2015.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 21-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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