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Such is the case for Brett Moffitt, last season’s Sprint Cup Series rookie of the year, who appeared to have the opportunity of a lifetime with a Cup organization only to find himself this past offseason looking for a ride.
Moffitt, 24, was one of those left on the outside looking in when Michael Waltrip Racing folded at the end of last season but he’s managed to turn an unexpected opportunity this season with Red Horse Racing into his first trip to Victory Lane.
Moffitt is on his second stint this season driving the No. 11 Toyota for Red Horse in the Truck Series while filling in for upstart Matt Tifft, who remains sidelined recovering from brain surgery.
In his last three races, Moffitt finished third at Pocono, second at Bristol, Tenn., and held off teammate Timothy Peters to capture the win Saturday at Michigan International Speedway, his first NASCAR national series victory.
His most recent NASCAR victory prior to Saturday was in 2012 at CNB Bank Raceway Park in Clearfield, Pa., in the developmental K&N Pro Series East.
“When I signed a multi-year contract with MWR it was like having a weight lifted off my shoulders, then with them closing down, when that was taken away from me, that was really tough,” Moffitt told Motorsport.com.
“I thought being rookie of the year last year would kind of help things in the offseason and set something up, but it didn’t work out like that. It’s been really stressful, pretty much every offseason.
“It’s an out-of-sight, out-of-mind sport, especially when you’re not at the track competing. They tend to forget about you pretty quick. Then you’re faced with the question of whether you want to get in a ride that’s not going to compete for wins, or do you wait and hopefully find the right opportunity – if it will ever come – to be able to win races?”
With encouragement from his father, Moffitt elected to wait it out this season for a good opportunity and was rewarded when Red Horse owner Tom DeLoach approached him to run the Truck race at Kentucky.
Four more races were added after that, the last of which is this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
Given the few opportunities this season, did Moffitt believe he had to win to have a chance to continue his NASCAR career?
“Yes and no,” he said. “I think that a win doesn’t guarantee anything but it sure doesn’t hurt. I think it’s played out pretty spectacularly for me the way it did – running third, then second and first. It just shows on three different races tracks we were able to do that.”
Even with the victory, at this time Moffitt has no concrete driving opportunities beyond this weekend’s road course race in Canada.
But for an up-and-coming driver desperate to get his career back on track, perhaps there is something even more important to be gained that can’t be measured in simple wins and losses.
“It just makes racing fun again,” Moffitt said. “Last year, it was becoming a job when you’re not competing for wins and all you’re doing is counting the money coming in.
“This year, we’re competing for wins again and it’s putting a fire under my butt and it’s just fun.”
Timetable of the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Entry list for the Chevrolet Silverado 250 at CTMP