Brett Moffitt won’t be back with Hattori Racing Enterprises in 2019.
The 2018 Camping World Truck Series champion said the team informed him it had signed a driver with funding for the 2019 season. That means Moffitt is looking for a ride less than a month after he won the team’s first championship.
“We always wanted to stay together,” Moffitt told Autoweek. “The crew guys and I certainly wanted to stay together. I found out on Monday and I was at the shop on Tuesday to get my stuff. I met with [team owner Shige Hattori] and he told me the direction.”
If you think the situation feels a bit like the Florida Marlins selling off the key pieces from its 1997 team in the immediate aftermath of winning the World Series, you’re not alone. But while the Marlins received scorn for their decision to eschew competitiveness for the near future just after winning a title, what Hattori is doing isn’t all that out of the ordinary in NASCAR because of how messed up the financial structure is.
In a series where the business model was more stable than a house of cards a team wouldn’t have to find a driver bringing millions of dollars in sponsorship the year after winning a title because the winnings from the title would help buoy the team. In a series where the business model actually made sense, driver talent would be valued more over sponsor money because a team could find financial sustenance from its race winnings, especially if that driver won six of 23 races in a season. In a series where the business model depends more and more on corporate dollars as fewer and fewer people watch, talented drivers wouldn’t have to drive for free.
But NASCAR is not a series where financial stability is moderately achievable. Even as Moffitt was winning races for HRE throughout the summer of 2018 the team was in danger of missing races because it didn’t have a million-dollar sponsor. So it’s only natural that he’s out of a ride in 2019 now that a driver with a sponsor attached to him sees how good HRE was a year ago. After all, money trumps talent in NASCAR. Jusk ask Moffitt. He could have told you all about it even before he won the title.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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