Posted by BMR in Brett Moffitt Racing on 10/3/2013

Brett Moffitt, driver of the Hattori Racing Enterprises (HRE) No. 11 Gunma Toyopet Toyota owned by Shigeaki Hattori, rolled into the Dover International Speedway (DIS) in Dover, Delaware second in the season championship point standings with a total of 450 points, having fought his way back to within 23 points of the point leader. Moffitt has been the only driver in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East history to record multiple wins at DIS, and he led laps during each of his four previous appearances at the “Monster Mile”, two of which resulted in trips to victory lane.

Two practice sessions were held on Thursday. Qualifying and the Drive Sober 150 were scheduled for Friday, September 27th. The team’s hopes for a strong run were almost immediately dampened during the first practice session when the car bottomed out hard enough to make it recoil and slide up the track with each bump. The team brought Moffitt back to the pits so the crew could work on the chassis, and as a result, the No. 11 ran less than 10 laps in the first practice session. Moffitt’s time was shown as 18th at the end of session one.

brett moffitt pit crew at dover 2013

Pit crew at work after 1st practice (Photo by Speed51.com)

The team thought they had fixed the car prior to the 2nd practice, but as soon as it took to the track again, they learned that it was still bottoming out. Crew Chief Dave McCarty brought Moffitt back in again, and the crew went back to work. As a consequence, Moffitt returned to the track with only about ½ hour left in the 2nd practice. His time during the 2nd session was shown as 27th on the one-mile banked concrete oval.

brett moffitt at dover 2013

In line for qualifying (Photo by Speed51.com)

With the championship clearly on the line, the team was concerned about the car’s handling, and prior to qualifying, they put an entirely new set up under the car. This set up had never turned a lap, so there was no way to predict the car’s performance until it rolled out for qualifying. During his qualifying attempt, Moffitt radioed to his crew that the car was “super tight”, but he kept it out of the wall and qualified 8th out of 36 cars, giving him a starting position on the outside of the 4th row. The starting field was limited to 30 cars, so 6 contenders who did not qualify on speed or qualify for a provisional starting position had to load up and go home.

impounded cars at dover 2013

Cars impounded on pit road after qualifying (Photo by Speed51.com)

From his 8th place starting slot, Moffitt advanced to 7th before having to give up some positions to hang onto the car. He slid back as far as 15th and then began to pick his way carefully toward the front again. On lap 35, the point leader slowed and attempted to make his way to pit road, with Moffitt running in the 13th position. The point leader rolled to a stop on the backstretch apron, bringing out the first yellow flag of the night, and giving Moffitt and the No. 11 HRE Gunma Toyopet Toyota team a fighting chance, even with their ill-handling racecar. With the point leader temporarily disabled, Moffitt headed to pit road for a chassis adjustment. He restarted in 19th at the drop of the green.

Throughout the race, the cars in the outside lane failed to get good restarts and stacked up each time the green flag was displayed. From the inside lane, Moffitt moved up to 17th, and he was soon advised that the point leader had gone behind the wall. The second caution flag of the night came out on lap 57, and Moffitt again headed to pit road for another chassis adjustment. He restarted in 23rd this time, the last car on the lead lap. 

brett moffitt pit road dover 2013

On pit road for a chassis adjustment (Photo by Speed51.com)

NASCAR used a debris caution on lap 72 as the half-way break point. All teams came to pit road for 10 minutes to allow for normal service, tires, and fuel. Moffitt’s car was still extremely tight, and the crew made another major chassis adjustment.  He restarted in 20th on the outside of the tenth row, and the outside line struggled again on the restart. Moffitt carefully picked his way around traffic, taking the 15th position on lap 91. With a tight racecar, passing was difficult, but by lap 113, he had moved up to 14th position. As the laps wound down, between attrition and the passes he was able to complete, Moffitt worked himself into the 8th position by lap 138. With cars running out of fuel under the final yellow and with only 12 laps left to run, it looked as though Moffitt might be able to bring home an almost miraculous top-five finish, but there was still one more difficulty that would have to be overcome in order to reach the checkered flag. On the final restart, the car lined up beside Moffitt had a tire go down, causing him to run into Moffitt, and sending Moffitt back to the 11th position where he eventually finished.

After another two-day battle with an extremely difficult racecar, Moffitt and the No. 11 HRE Gunma Toyopet Toyota team managed to cut the season championship point deficit to only 5. The championship appears to boil down to a contest between the top two drivers, and a win in the final race of the season at Road Atlanta could wrap it up for either one of them.

The final race of the season will take place on October 18th in Braselton, Georgia. The race will be 23 laps around the 2.54 mile, 12-turn road course, and the Season Champion will be crowned at the end of the day.

“We want to thank HRE, Gunma Toyopet, and all of our sponsors for their continuing support, and I especially want to thank the team for refusing to give up today when our hopes for a good finish looked impossible. Because the crew kept making adjustments and we all kept digging, the point deficit has been cut to only 5 as we leave Dover. With a road race left to run, we know we have a chance at a strong finish in Atlanta and a good shot at the 2013 season championship trophy. The team’s struggles and frustrations have been pretty obvious lately, but we still hope to bring a legitimate top-five car to Road Atlanta.  If we can do that, we have a good chance to accomplish our goals.”

The Drive Sober 150 will be televised by Fox Sports 1 on October 13th at 12:00 p.m. ET.

Between now and October 18th, Moffitt’s schedule will be filled with testing dates for Toyota and for Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR). Immediately before the race at Dover, Moffitt took part in a two-day test session designed to simulate an entire race weekend at the Sprint Cup level. It is Moffitt’s job to provide accurate feedback for the Cup teams on how the car handles under simulated practice, qualifying and race conditions. During this particular test session, Moffitt ran over 700 laps at Nashville in a Cup car. This week, Moffitt will again spend two days testing for MWR and will then head to Charlotte for another two-day test session immediately prior to his final race of the season at Road Atlanta in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

brett moffitt nascar interview

Moffitt during recent interview

For additional information, and to follow Moffitt’s racing career, log on at: www.brettmoffittracing.com. For information about Hattori Racing Enterprises (HRE), log on at www.hre.us.com. To stay up to date with all of Moffitt’s news, both on the track and off, follow him on Facebook at Brett Moffitt Racing or Twitter @BrettMoffitt11. For information on sponsorship opportunities with Brett Moffitt Racing, contact Dick Moffitt at:  515/202-2310 or rmoffitt@destinyhomesusa.com.

Graphics by:
RE PHOTO GRAPHICS
Roy M. Evans
rmevans@mchsi.com
National Association of Photoshop
Professionals

 

Tags: championship , 2013 , hattori racing enterprises , hre , gunma toyopet toyota , shigeaki hattori , dover international speedway , dis , dover , delaware , drive sober 150

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