With the NASCAR Xfinity Series‘ Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega Superspeedway just two days away, a pair of drivers have changed their points declarations to the series in question. Brett Moffitt switches from Camping World Truck Series points while Joey Gase does so after beginning the season on the Cup Series standings.
After making the Truck Series Championship Round in 2020 in addition to running much of the Xfinity schedule for the new Our Motorsports, expectations for Moffitt were for him to begin competing for the Xfinity championship in 2021. However, he also signed with Niece Motorsports to run the full Truck schedule and continued to declare points in said series in addition to being a full-time Xfinity driver for Our.
Moffitt’s 2021 season in both series provided vastly different results. After the first six Truck races, he was fifteenth in points with just one top ten (ninth at Atlanta) and only two finishes in the top twenty. For comparison, the only instances in which he was outside the top ten in the standings in a full-time Truck campaign came after the 2018 and 2019 season openers, both of which he crashed out of, before rebounding the following week to enter the top echelon.
In contrast, his Xfinity schedule began on a strong note when he won the second stage and finished second in the first race at Daytona; after seven rounds, he has three top tens. Had Moffitt declared for Xfinity points from the start of the season, he would be thirteenth in the standings with about 164 points, four below the playoff cut-off line. By switching points at this stage, Moffitt will have to make his playoff push from zero points with nineteen races left in the regular season.
While Moffitt is no longer racing for Truck points, he likely continue driving the #45 for Niece in races that he is eligible. He will not be allowed to enter the season finale at Phoenix Raceway or three Triple Truck Challenge rounds at Darlington Raceway (7 May), Circuit of the Americas (22 May), and Charlotte Motor Speedway (28 May), meaning the team will have to find another driver to fill in; although Moffitt can no longer win the driver’s title, the #45 can still compete for the owner’s championship. Interestingly, the switch marks the second points change for a Niece driver in the #45: in 2019, Ross Chastain flipped from Xfinity to Truck points and went on to finish second in the standings.
“I’ve requested and received approval to start declaring NASCAR Xfinity Series championship points moving forward in the #02 Chevrolet,” read a statement from Moffitt. “Our Motorsports is giving me extremely competitive race cars and I genuinely believe we are going to get to victory lane and make the playoffs. This was an extremely difficult decision to make, as the switch means I will not be able to race the full NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season in the #45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet. I hope to continue to compete with Niece Motorsports to continue to build their program and I am thankful for the opportunities Al (Niece, team owner), Cody (Efaw, general manager), Phil (Gould, crew chief) and everyone at the organization has provided me. I wouldn’t make this decision without the support of my incredible partners and I look forward to making the most of this opportunity alongside them.”
Unlike Moffitt and his full-time endeavours, Gase is competing on a limited schedule. After running much of the 2020 Cup season for Rick Ware Racing, he downscaled to a part-time slate and has only run three races for RWR in 2021, notching a best finish of twentieth in the Daytona 500.
For the Talladega weekend, he will drive the #28 Ford in Sunday’s Cup race for RWR in addition to a #28 Chevrolet for SS-Green Light Racing (fielded in partnership with RWR) in the previous day’s Xfinity event. The dual #28 is part of an organ donation effort by Gase and tribute to the late Davey Allison. The Xfinity race will be his first in the series in 2021.
Gase’s points swap was necessary for him to run the Xfinity race as it is a Dash 4 Cash event. Like the Triple Truck Challenge, the Dash 4 Cash is a programme that enables the best performers in a select group of drivers across certain races to earn monetary prizes. For 2021, the D4C takes place at Martinsville Speedway (held two weeks ago), Talladega, Darlington (8 May), and Dover International Speedway (15 May).
Since 2011, NASCAR has mandated for drivers to select one of the three national series in which they can accumulate points. The rule was implemented after a five-year stretch in which the Xfinity championship was exclusively won by Cup drivers, and other restrictions added since include limiting such drivers to five races in each of the lower two national divisions.