Santerre’s young driver on fast track

Posted June 04, 2009, at 7:03 p.m.
Joey Logano poses before the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 auto race at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., last week. In 2007 Logano had been the youngest to win the Camping World West when he was one month and five days shy of his 17th birthday. Brett Moffitt, who turns 17 on Aug. 7, beat that record last Saturday night when he won the South Boston 150 at South Boston (Va.)Speedway.
AP PHOTO BY MIKE MCCARN
Joey Logano poses before the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 auto race at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., last week. In 2007 Logano had been the youngest to win the Camping World West when he was one month and five days shy of his 17th birthday. Brett Moffitt, who turns 17 on Aug. 7, beat that record last Saturday night when he won the South Boston 150 at South Boston (Va.)Speedway.

Brett Moffitt didn’t have much time to celebrate his milestone.

Moffitt, who drives for Andy Santerre Motorsports, became the youngest driver to ever win a NASCAR Camping World series race last Saturday night when he won the South Boston 150 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway.

But series rookie Moffitt, who turns 17 on Aug. 7, had to return to take final exams at Johnston High School (Iowa) where he is a sophomore.

“I had to focus on school,” said Moffitt, who received plenty of congratulatory words from his schoolmates.

“A lot of them came up and said ‘great job’ and things like that,” said Moffitt, who lives in Grimes, Iowa.

Current Sprint Cup and Nationwide series driver Joey Logano had been the youngest when he captured his Camping World West debut in 2007 when he was one month and five days shy of his 17th birthday. Eleven days later, Logano became the youngest Camping World East series winner.

Moffitt, who is second in points, said his accomplishment is one he will always cherish.

“It feels pretty amazing… to be able to beat [Logano’s] record and get that first win off my shoulders,” said Moffitt, who became the youngest driver to ever earn a pole in the season-opening race at Greenville-Pickens Speedway (S.C.). “We’ve been strong all year long. We had a great car at Iowa [Speedway] but the tires didn’t hold up. The car was just perfect on Saturday night. I really feel we had the car to beat.”

Moffitt finished sixth at Iowa Speedway in a race won by Sprint Cup star Kyle Busch.

Cherryfield native Santerre, a four-time Camping World East champion who also won a race in the Nationwide series, was also caught up in the moment.

“It felt like getting my first win all over again,” said Santerre, who is also Moffitt’s crew chief. “For a kid that age to get a win in his fourth race is unheard of. It doesn’t happen very often. These cars are a handful to drive. They’re big and heavy and these short tracks aren’t easy.

“He did a phenomenal job,” added Santerre who noted that this is just Moffitt’s second year racing on asphalt as he comes from a dirt track background.

South Boston Speedway is .357 of a mile.

There is a mutual admiration and respect between Moffitt and Santerre.

“Working with Andy has been awesome,” said Moffitt. “He’s such a great driver himself. He knows how to set the cars up pretty well. Anyone who has won four championships isn’t a bad person to have on your side. He knows everyone. If we need something done, he’ll call someone and they’ll come and make it work.”

He also said Santerre is an outstanding communicator.

“And communication is the key to having a good race team. He understands everything I have to say. He’s great at what he does,” said Moffitt who enjoys being around Santerre and the race team.

Santerre called Moffitt a “natural talent” and admitted that he didn’t think he would be as good as he is.

“He has surprised me,”

said Santerre. “And he’s a really good kid. He’s really quiet and shy but all the guys on our race team are outgoing and he’s starting to come around.”

Santerre said Moffitt’s natural ability has been noticeable outside of the race car, also.

“I’ve known how to ride a unicycle since I was 10 and when we were in Bar Harbor, the guys on the race team saw one at a store and told me they would buy it for me if I could prove I could ride it,” said Santerre who did just that.

The unicyle is in the race shop and several of the members of the race team have experimented with it.

“It took them a month, practicing every night, to be able to ride it across the shop floor. It took Brett an hour,” said Santerre.

“I was bored one night, waiting for my dad [Dick] to book a hotel room, so I started playing around with it. I’m not the best at it but I can go in a straight line pretty well,” said Moffitt, who has finished in the top six in three of his four races.

Santerre has witnessed Moffitt’s penchant for learning on the racetrack, also.

“His biggest problem had been his re-starts but he worked on them [and improved dramatically],” said Santerre.

“They had always been my problem so, the other day when we were testing, I started doing re-starts every time out and it finally paid off,” said Moffitt.

Moffitt will make his road course debut at Watkins Glen on Saturday. He has attended a Bondurant driving school to learn how to handle a road course and he has practiced at Virginia International Raceway’s road course.

“He ran 30 laps before it rained and was the fastest, by far, of any driver I’ve ever taken there,” said Santerre.

Moffitt is confident and said the momentum gained from last week’s win should be beneficial.

He also said he has his sights set on the points title.

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