NEWTON - Brett Moffitt's potential received a ringing endorsement.
The Iowa native was introduced as one of 13 up-and-coming drivers for the NASCAR Next program Friday afternoon at Iowa Speedway. NASCAR Next is an iniative to spotlight NASCAR’s rising stars, exposing them to fans with the hope the talent that will become NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars.
Moffitt, of Grimes, has achieved success on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. He has 53 career East Division starts, earning 31 top-five finishes before Friday night's Casey's General Stores 150. Moffitt ranks among the series’ all-time leaders in wins and poles.
“It’s big,” 20-year-old Moffitt said. “It’s big for media exposure. Hopefully, it will open some eyes and for the outlook of the future. Hopefully, it will bring me some more success.”
The other members announced Friday were Jeb Burton, Chase Elliott, 15-year-old Gray Gaulding, Ryan Gifford, Cameron Hayley, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Ben Kennedy, Dylan Kwasniewski, Ryan Preece, Ben Rhodes, Kenzie Ruston, Michael Self and Mexico's Daniel Suarez.
Burton is the son of Ward Burton, an accomplished NASCAR driver. Elliott is the son of former NASCAR champion Bill Elliott.
The class ranges in age from 15 to 24, representing all three countries in North America. Drivers are nominated and voted on by a separate panel. Candidates must be 15 to 25, own Sprint Cup aspirations with the skills to reach that level.
“This program has made great strides in a short time,” NASCAR vice president, industry services Jill Gregory said in a news release. "The evolution of NASCAR Next builds on that success with the influx of young, talented drivers continuing throughout all of NASCAR’s racing series. This program provides a platform to help foster their growth within our sport, and introduce these young and talented drivers to NASCAR fans who will likely be hearing more about them in years to come.”
Ruston, 21, of El Reno, Okla., is the lone female in the class. She has three top-five finishes in five starts in her rookie season on the K&N Pro Series East. She produced the best performance by a female driver in series history, placing third in April at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway.
“All of the guys in this class are phenomenal,” Ruston said. “They pick awesome drivers...
"Hopefully, we can get exposure from this this year, and next year be in a Truck or Nationwide car.”
Preece, 22, of Berlin, Conn., has the distinction of being a NASCAR modified driver. He boasts two championship runner-up finishes in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, including five career wins and 12 poles.“It means a lot because of the history of the modifieds in NASCAR,” Preece said. “Everybody in my family has been a part of the modifieds. To represent the modified community here means a lot to me. I’ll do everything I can for them.”