ANDERSON, S.C. – Fourth-generation racer and 15-year-old rising star Thad Moffitt collected his first-career Southeast Limited Late Model Series Daytona 1 Challenger Division victory on Saturday during the Midsummer Championships at Anderson Motor Speedway, driving away from the field late in a thrilling 30-lap main event.
Moffitt started on the pole and led 22 of the race’s 30 circuits, but had to fight back from two rough restarts before ultimately passing Anthony Miller with 10 laps to go for his first career limited late model win in his rookie season of racing.
“It was tough for me on the restarts tonight,” said Moffitt, the grandson of NASCAR King Richard Petty and nephew of NBC Sports analyst Kyle Petty. “I’m still learning that part of it a little bit. But it was super fun racing Anthony and Andrew (Cordell) there … it was a really good race. We were sideways for half the race, I felt like. It was like running on a dirt track. Luckily there at the end we were able to pull away and get the win.”
“I was surprised when he (Miller) got around me. (Crew chief) Grump (Cheeks) said it was just me and the 33 (Cordell) left on the track, so when he came by me there with no front bumper I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? Wow.’ He did great, but I’m happy for this one. We’ve worked hard for a while and it feels good to finally get the job done.”
Moffitt led the field to the green flag and had to fend off an early challenge from Cordell, his nearest rival in Daytona 1 Challenger points, before Miller spun to the top of turn one to bring out the first caution flag of the race at lap two.
Once the green flag returned, it would be Moffitt setting the pace again as Amber Lynn waged a furious war with Cordell for the runner up spot before seizing it solidly on the fourth round.
Lap 12 would see a battle for third between Miller and Cordell, with Miller seizing the spot courtesy of momentum from the outside groove before the race’s second yellow flew for a hard crash by Lynn in turn three.
A problem on the right front of the ‘Kellett Deuce’ would see Lynn pound the outside wall, ending her night with terminal damage to the right front corner of her machine.
The ensuing restart would see Moffitt miss a shift and be shuffled from first to third in a three-wide scrum for the top spot in turn one, with Cordell taking control of the race for four laps before Miller came to play on the inside groove.
Miller charged to the inside of Cordell for the point on lap 17, racing him side-by-side for three-eighths of a mile before taking the lead officially on the 18th round.
But Moffitt wasn’t done. He gave a shot to the back of Miller in turn two on lap 19 when Miller got loose, taking the point back just before Cordell and Miller crashed behind him the next time through turns one and two.
The lap count would revert back to 18, but Moffitt would inherit the lead for the restart as he led the field back to green. Miller would charge to the inside in turn three to resume the lead for two additional laps, but Moffitt was finally able to work clear of the No. 32 for good with 10 to go and never looked back.
The rookie was emotional in victory lane in regards to Saturday being the first win of his racing career.
“This is truly amazing. I’ll never forget this night,” Moffitt added. “This is my first-ever win … in anything … and I don’t know quite what to say, really. Just a really special moment.”
For Miller, his No. 32 hung on to finish second despite having no front bodywork on it at the checkered flag, the final car running in a battle of attrition.
Cordell pulled off the race track with five laps to go, credited with third in the final rundown. Lynn finished fourth after her crash in the race’s first half.
For more information on the Southeast Limited Late Model Series, visit them on the web at www.southeastlimiteds.com.
Audio with race winner Thad Moffitt:
RESULTS: Southeast Limited Late Model Series; Midsummer Championship 30; Anderson Motor Speedway; Aug. 13, 2016
Daytona 1 Challenger Division (30 laps): 1. #46 – Thad Moffitt; 2. #32 – Anthony Miller; 3. #33 – Andrew Cordell; 4. #2 – Amber Lynn.
Lap Leaders: Moffitt 1-12; Cordell 13-17; Miller 18-20; Moffitt 21-30.
CREDIT: Southeast Limited Late Model Series