A Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship was not enough to save Brett Moffitt‘s job. On Wednesday, Hattori Racing Enterprises announced they had signed a new driver for the 2019 season, leaving Moffitt out of a ride.
Despite their successful 2018 campaign, Hattori and Moffitt were plagued by sponsorship issues throughout the year, often leaving their chances of continuing the season in doubt. With a lack of consistent funding, the team’s performance was also inconsistent; although Moffitt had thirteen top-ten finishes, all of them were top fives or wins.
For the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the #16 team fielded a truck with a spec engine in order to remain competitive, a strategy that ultimately paid off as Moffitt won the race and title.
“We are extremely proud of what we achieved with Brett and winning the championship together,” HRE owner Shigeaki Hattori stated in a team release. “Our organization’s relationship with him dates back to 2012 and we’re thankful for what he has meant to our team and the effort he put forth. This past season was full of adversity and we faced numerous challenges in getting to the racetrack each week.
“Our entire team is working hard to put the best possible program together for next year and we’re excited to compete in 2019. We’re looking forward to celebrating our championship on Saturday night with Brett at the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series awards banquet and hope our results together benefit all of us in the future.”
Moffitt is not the first Truck champion to be out of a full-time ride the following year. In 2009, reigning champ Johnny Benson ran the first eight races with Red Horse Racing before his #1 team shut down due to sponsorship woes. Assuming he returns to the Truck Series full-time in 2019, he would join Travis Kvapil, Ted Musgrave, and Benson as the only Truck champs to attempt their title defences for a different team.
While Hattori has not announced the replacement driver, it is likely to be someone who carries funding with them, highlighting the sport’s current trend of teams demanding drivers with sponsorship.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who won two Xfinity Series championships in 2011 and 2012 with Roush Fenway Racing despite poor sponsorship, tweeted, “Man, one thing i always thank [Jack Roush] for is we didn’t have full funding but he continued to let us win races and championships In 2010-2012″.
Moffitt has not announced his 2019 plans.