TULSA, Okla. — Fifteen years removed from hoisting a Golden Driller inside the River Spirit Expo Center, Brett Moffitt is back to try and claim another of the coveted trophies.
Moffitt, who won the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, was among the surprise entries for the 35th Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.
The 28-year-old native of Grimes, Iowa, will team with Bundy Built Motorsports and car owner John Mitchell to attempt the Super Bowl of Midget Racing for the first time, driving the No. 45 Honda-powered Spike Chassis at Tulsa Expo Raceway.
While he’s somewhat overshadowed by another NASCAR notable — reigning Cup Series champion Chase Elliott — who’s also racing in the Wednesday preliminary program, Moffitt is eager to get going at the Chili Bowl and credited Kyle Larson for aiding in the connections that made his driving deal possible.
“When I thought of running Chili Bowl, I immediately reached out to Kyle,” Moffitt explained. “He’s a friend of mine and he’s always been super helpful. And obviously, when it comes to midgets, he knows this stuff. So I asked him what the options were out there, as far as Chili Bowl rides and he told me that John hadn’t really been in the business of providing a second car to somebody, but he felt their cars are quality and he hooked me up with them.
“They were excited to add a second car this year and it just all lined up,” Moffitt added. “But it was really Larson that hooked me up with him and got this deal going for me.”
Moffitt won his Golden Driller in Junior II flat karts during the 2006 Tulsa Shootout, but acknowledged that “a lot’s changed since then” and he doesn’t expect to have a completely effortless learning curve with the midget.
“Man, flat karts to midgets is two completely different worlds,” he said. “Obviously times have changed a lot. The Tulsa Shootout was a big prestigious race when we were flat-kart racing. There were a couple hundred entries in it. But it wasn’t anything like chasing a Golden Driller at the Chili Bowl, especially in a car that I’ve never been in before.
“It’s definitely going to be different, but going back there a week or so ago with the micro sprint and just competing in that building again was really cool,” Moffitt continued. “It helped me, I feel like, learn the track and see how it transitions throughout the week and throughout the night. I think all of those things are going to be similar this week in the midget. I haven’t driven a midget before, but I think all that information is going to really ease my learning curve at least somewhat.”
A rookie has never won the Chili Bowl in its 34-year history, but Moffitt’s competitive fire isn’t letting him think about any goal other than pursuing a victory in the Saturday night A Main.
“I’d like to be holding the Driller on Saturday night. I’m a competitor and that’s what this opportunity is. That’s part of the reason why I got the micro and why I’m doing this, is because it gives me more areas to compete in,” Moffitt noted. “I think the more different race cars you can drive, the better you’re going to be as a driver.
“As far as this week, I want to go there and I at least want to make my prelim night feature, and really just do better than what most people are expecting me to do, I guess,” Moffitt added. “I always have high expectations for myself and I think I hold myself to a high standard most of the time, but I want to go out there and ultimately make the A Main and be competitive against the best. That’s the goal.”
Looking beyond the Chili Bowl, Moffitt is slated to run the full NASCAR Xfinity Series season for Our Motorsports, while he’ll chase a second Truck Series title with Niece Motorsports.
However, his midget debut in Tulsa isn’t the only time Moffitt, who broke both legs in a motorcycle accident last spring, plans to be on dirt this season.
“There’s more to come,” he tipped. “I’ve been talking about getting a micro (sprint) together for probably a year and a half now. Sheldon Creed and I were talking about doing it to run at Millbridge (Speedway), and then I broke my legs and that got put on hold. Once I finally got back to where I was in a good position to be able to do it, I got the micro and felt like I was kind of all in at that point.
“Between Niece (Motorsports) and Circle B Diecast, they wanted to be partners in both cars, so it’ll be almost identical paint schemes between the two rides,” Moffitt continued. The plan is to run as much as we can all year long at Millbridge and other tracks that the NASCAR schedule allows us to go visit.
“It should be fun. It’ll be a new challenge for me, that’s for sure.”