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Moffitt parlays Atlanta finish into deal with Front Row

Created: 03/05/2015 6:52 AM WNYT.com
By: By JENNA FRYER

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Brett Moffitt opened the year with exactly one race on his 2015 schedule, the Sprint Cup race at Atlanta as the replacement driver for Brian Vickers.

He made the most of his opportunity, finishing eighth last Sunday in a head-turning performance. Now the Michael Waltrip Racing development driver has parlayed the run into more seat time.

Moffitt on Wednesday got a three-race deal to drive the No. 34 for Front Row Motorsports starting this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He's also slotted to drive the next two weeks at Phoenix and Fontana, California.

"After last weekend, I'm obviously eager to get back into a car and keep racing," Moffitt said. "I'm grateful to Bob Jenkins and his team for giving me the chance to do that. I'll do my best to get some good finishes for them. I'm also thankful that Michael Waltrip Racing is allowing me to pursue this opportunity."

Front Row's seat opened when David Ragan was picked up by Joe Gibbs Racing to be the injury replacement for Kyle Busch for the foreseeable future. Joe Nemechek replaced Ragan, but Front Row worked out a deal with MWR and Toyota to get the 22-year-old Moffitt in the car the next three weeks.

Front Row is a Ford team, and Moffitt a Toyota Racing Development test driver, but both sides have been accommodating since Busch was injured two weeks ago.

"We know Brett doesn't have a ton of Sprint Cup experience, but he's got a lot of hours behind the wheel in testing time, and he was certainly impressive Sunday in Atlanta," Front Row owner Jenkins said. "For only his eighth start, he showed a lot of poise, patience and maturity that you don't often see in drivers that age."

Moffitt ran seven Cup races last year with a best finish of 22nd at Dover in his debut. Driving for Vickers, who sat out the first two races of the year following offseason heart surgery, put Moffitt in his best equipment to date and he delivered.

"I had this one opportunity to prove myself and I think we more than exceeded the expectations," he said this week. "It's gotten the ball rolling on some opportunities, and that's what I need to get in the car more often."

MWR, which wants Moffitt to get as much seat time as possible, was pleased a deal with Front Row could be worked out.

"There has been heightened interest for Brett Moffitt's services after his solid performance last weekend in Atlanta," co-owner Rob Kauffman said. "While he is committed to MWR, we are happy for him to gain further valuable experience."

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WILSON-SEBRING: Michael Shank Racing has added Justin Wilson to its lineup for the Twelve Hours of Sebring later this month.

Wilson will share the No. 60 Honda with John Pew and Ozz Negri. It's a familiar role for Wilson, who has raced 13 other times in the Shank lineup but wasn't part of the foursome at the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Wilson has been teaming with Shank since 2006, but this will be his first chance to drive the new Honda-powered Ligier JS P2.

Wilson, who is still trying to secure a full-time IndyCar Series ride, has logged countless laps at Sebring while testing an Indy car. He's also competed in three previous 12 Hours of Sebring. He was not part of a recent Shank test, but knows the team is ready.

Shank won the pole for the Rolex in January.

"Everyone at Michael Shank Racing has been working so hard to be ready for Sebring," said Wilson. "It seems like a big break between the 24 and Sebring, but they've been at it nonstop. The test was really productive for them so we'll have a good bit of data to start with when we head down there."

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IMS-SUNOCO: Sunoco has reached an agreement to continue as the official fuel of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar Series.

Sunoco's relationship with IndyCar dates to 1968 in Riverside, California, when Mark Donohue drove the No. 12 Sunoco Eagle for Penske Racing. That same team of Penske, Donohue and Sunoco won its first Indianapolis 500 four years later.

The new deal announced this week also calls for Sunoco to maintain its support of IndyCar's young stars as title sponsor of both the Sunoco Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year and the Verizon IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year awards.

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ALL-STAR SCHEDULE: The All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series, recently purchased by three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart, on Wednesday announced a 54-race season schedule.

The schedule spans six states and will stage 29 of its events in Ohio and 14 in Pennsylvania.

Stewart completed his purchase of All Star Series right before its February opening of five non-points events. Races counting toward the season-ending championship begin in late March at Atomic Speedway in Waverly, Ohio.

"The schedule we put together for the 2015 All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series is filled with great venues on a timeline that works well for our participants," Stewart said. "Our first five events in Florida went off extremely well and we look forward to carrying that momentum into Ohio with our first point-paying race at Atomic Speedway."

(Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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