Moffitt, 16, eager to drive in NASCAR race at NHMS

Posted June 25, 2009, at 10:37 p.m.

Brett Moffitt has never raced at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H.

The 16-year-old native of Grimes, Iowa, has never even been to New England.

But the Andy Santerre Motorsports team driver and series rookie will enter tonight’s Heluva! Good 125 Camping World East race as the points leader in the NASCAR series.

Moffitt, with a win and a third-place finish in his last two races, has an 18-point lead over Jody Lavender and a 47-point lead over Matt Kobyluck.

With the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup series owners and drivers on hand for their respective races — the Camping World RV Sales 200 Nationwide race Saturday and the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 Sprint Cup race Sunday — it will provide Moffitt with a golden opportunity to showcase his talents for future employment opportunities.

“This would definitely be a good week to perform well. A lot of people will be watching. I’m just anxious to see how it will go,” said Moffitt.

“When you’re racing in front of Sprint Cup owners and drivers, it’s a big deal for us,” said Cherryfield’s Santerre, Moffitt’s crew chief as well as his team owner.

Moffitt won’t be intimidated by the circumstances, according to Santerre.

“He doesn’t worry a whole lot about what other people think. He just does his own thing,” said Santerre. “He flies under the radar.”

“When I’m out of the car, I think about it a little more. But once I’m strapped in, it’s just another race,” said Moffitt. “No matter what it is, I always give 110 percent.”

NHMS is one of Santerre’s favorite tracks. The four-time Camping World East points series champion has won four races at Loudon as a driver and he was the team manager in 2005 when Mike Stefanik took the checkered flag. Santerre was responsible for building Stefanik’s race car.

Santerre said he always liked the flat 1.058-mile surface and the special feeling he gets when they drive their car hauler through the tunnel into the infield.

“It’s like going to Daytona 500 for the Sprint Cup drivers. You get to race in front of a lot of people and it’s a first-class facility,” said Santerre.

Santerre is bringing the Chevy Monte Carlo Moffitt drove to a sixth-place finish at Iowa Speedway earlier this season. Moffitt had the fifth best qualifying time.

“It’s a real good car,” said Santerre, who noted Moffitt ran with the leaders all day until late in the race.

“On our last stop, we put two tires on instead of four. So we ran out of rubber at the end. We wore out the left-side tires,” explained Santerre.

Santerre said the key to success at NHMS is the car’s handling.

“That’s huge. The track is fast and you’ve got to get through the turns,” said Santerre.

That’s fine with Moffitt, who said he likes having the emphasis on the driver and how he handles the car.

“I really like these types of tracks,” said Moffitt.

He also feels having Santerre in his corner and Santerre’s record of success at this track will be beneficial.

“He’s somebody you can put your faith in. Hopefully, I’ll be as good as he has been here in the past and maybe a little better,” said Moffitt.

Santerre said the track has improved.

“It’s better now than it’s ever been. There’s more than one groove now. It hasn’t been paved in four or five years and that has made it better,” said Santerre.

“I’m definitely looking forward to having a good run,” said Moffitt, who would also like to land some sponsors for the rest of the season.

NHMS gears up for weekend

New Hampshire Motor Speedway will have some new wrinkles this year, but another crowd in excess of 100,000 can be anticipated despite the economic downturn.

“We have very few tickets remaining,” said Fred Neergaard, director of public relations at NHMS. “We did lose some corporate business with the change in the economic climate. But the individual fans have stepped up to the plate and supported the speedway as they always have.”

Neergaard said there have been several improvements.

“We remodeled the infield. It’s unbelievable. We used to have an acre and a half of usable space and now we have seven acres,” said Neergaard. “We raised the fences in front of the fans in turns two and three from 15 feet to 21 feet. Mr. Smith [track owner Bruton Smith] believes we should go the extra mile for safety.”

However, he also noted that they have actually improved the sight lines for the spectators with the new fencing.

There will also be a mascot for the first time since Sprint Cup came to Loudon in 1993.

“His name is Milo the Moose,” said Neergaard.

Milo is short for Mile Oval.

Milo the Moose will also visit other sports venues.

NHMS also obtained Thursday’s Fanfest activities, which had previously been held in Concord. Fans are treated to live music and can play a variety of games. There is a casino tent. The proceeds go to charity.

And Neergaard said Thursday’s Fanfest was free. They used to charge a nominal fee.

On Sunday, prior to the Sprint Cup race, the crowd will be treated to a concert by renowned rock band Three Dog Night; an exhibition by the car-eating, fire-breathing mechanical dinosaur Transaurus, and a fly-over by F-16 fighter jets.

The Camping World East series race is tonight at 5:10 after Sprint Cup pole qualifying. The Whelen Modified series will run the New England 100 Saturday at 1 p.m. with the Camping World RV Sales 200 to follow at 3 and Sunday’s LENOX Industrial Tools 301 will begin at 2 p.m.

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