NASCAR: Brett Moffitt set for Sprint Cup debut this week at Dover

Leave a comment

Michael Waltrip Racing test driver Brett Moffitt will suit up for his inaugural Sprint Cup race at a track that he knows well.

The 21-year-old Iowan, who has three NASCAR national series starts to his name, is scheduled to drive the No. 66 Jay Robinson Racing Toyota in this weekend’s FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway.

“If you ask around the garage, you will learn he’s one of the most respected young men in the sport who just hasn’t had a chance at a full-time ride,” Robinson said to The Des Moines (Iowa) Register. “We think he has a lot of talent and will show it at Dover.”

Moffitt is a previous two-time winner at the “Monster Mile” in the K&N Pro Series East. More recently, he filled in for MWR and the ailing Brian Vickers in a test session last fall at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I’m honored Jay asked me to drive his car at Dover,” Moffitt said in a release. “The Monster Mile is a tough, but fun track and I can’t wait to get there. I won the 2009 and 2010 K&N East race at Dover so I think I’ll feel comfortable there, but Sprint Cup racing is a whole new world.

“I appreciate all the support I have received from Jay Robinson, TRD [Toyota Racing Development] and everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing for making this happen. My goals are to qualify well and learn all I can during the race.”

The No. 66 Toyota is run as part of a partnership between the MWR and Robinson camps; Waltrip (two races) and NBC Sports’ own Jeff Burton (one race) have raced it under the MWR banner this year, while veteran Joe Nemechek has been its primary driver for the Robinson side.

A former member of the NASCAR Next project, Moffitt was one of the K&N East series’ most consistent drivers in his five-year run from 2009 to 2013.

He collected nine wins, 10 poles, 33 Top-5s, and 44 Top-10s in that span. While he was unable to win a series championship, he finished second in the standings twice, and third three times; last year, he lost the title by 33 points to current Nationwide Series driver Dylan Kwasniewski.

As far as his national series work is concerned, Moffitt finished ninth in a Nationwide race two years ago on home ground at Iowa Speedway. Last year, he made two Camping World Truck Series starts at Kentucky (14th place) and Michigan (17th).

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”