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November 16, 2018
THE MODERATOR: We're going to continue our NASCAR Camping World Truck Series post‑race media availabilities. We're joined now by the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, driver Brett Moffitt. I'll throw a couple facts out here before we go to questions. You're the first Iowa native to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. You finished the 2018 season with six wins and 13 top 5s, and during the playoffs you posted two wins back‑to‑back at ISM Raceway, here at Homestead, and five top‑5 finishes. First, congratulations on the championship, and before we open it up to questions, tell us how it feels.
BRETT MOFFITT: Pretty good. I don't know, I don't think it's sunk in yet. I have a lot of friends, family here, and just the effort that HRE put in all year and Scott and these guys, when we didn't even know if we were going to make it to the track, and then we show up that week and win the race at Chicago, and just everything we've been through, I don't think everyone understands when we say we have nine or ten full‑time employees, that's the last three to five weeks they've been working seven days a week and working until midnight if need be. More times than not they were doing that. It's just a testament to them. It's really‑‑ I'm fortunate to drive the truck, but those guys, they kill it. I mean, it's an honor to drive for them.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by our 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series crew chief champion, Scott Zipadelli. This is, Scott, your first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. Your previous best championship finish was seventh with driver Ben Kennedy in 2016. And we're joined by our NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner champion, Shigeaki Hattori. You become the 15th different owner champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the first from Japan.
Gentlemen, to both of you, congratulations, and I'll go to Scott first. Scott, you did it; how does it feel?
SCOTT ZIPADELLI: Yeah, like Brett said, it's kind of amazing really. It feels good. Going into this race, everybody asked me are you nervous, are you nervous. Nope, we're not nervous. We're really not even supposed to be here. We've exceeded all expectations from all of our peers and competitors.
But with saying that, we had all the confidence that we could do it, and we did it with people, not stuff or a big budget like some of the teams that we race with out‑budget us. But we did it with people and heart, and like Brett said, these guys worked‑‑ I mean, I've had to kick them out of the shop at 1:00 in the morning in the past week because I was exhausted. Starting at 5:30 in the morning, and we'd leave the shop at midnight, and everybody is happy. Who's happy working that long hours? And they just‑‑ they want this. And it's been an amazing journey.
It's taught us a lot about ourselves and what you can do if you really focus on the right things. And with Brett, he did an amazing job all season driving the truck. We work very well together, and working for Shige is‑‑ I don't know, it's a joy, really. I'm very happy for all of our employees and their families that have sacrificed a lot to get here.
THE MODERATOR: Shige, you're at the pinnacle. You've reached the mountaintop. It's got to feel pretty good for you.
SHIGEAKI HATTORI: Well, it takes a long time, since I started my own team. It was 2008. I mentioned Brett, we missed K&N championship it was in 2012, and we were leading the last lap, and then we missed it. But today, yeah, we did it.
Again, we are such a small team, but everybody did a great job, and I'm so, so happy for all the team and the team members and all the team families. Thank you.
Q. Brett, going into this race not knowing what your future holds, did your mind wander into, gosh, this could be a career moment, gosh, if I can win this race it'll help me land rides in the future? Or did you try to kind of stay in the moment itself?
BRETT MOFFITT: I'd say a little bit of both. I wouldn't say‑‑ I mean, I thought about it, and the only reason I thought about it is because even if I hit it, I'm still not guaranteed a job next year, but at least I can say that I won it. That's really all it extends to is we've worked really hard all year, and I wanted to win it not only for myself but everybody involved. We had so many different partners this year that have really helped us along the way and helped us get to this point.
You know, it was‑‑ I put pressure on myself to win it so that no matter what happens in the future, at least I can say I won it.
Q. Shige, it's about 1:00 p.m. in Tokyo right now; any phone calls? Any congratulations? What's been the message from all the supporters overseas that make this happen for you guys?
SHIGEAKI HATTORI: Well, as soon as we finished the race today, I got maybe 20 text messages and phone calls. The president of icing (phonetic), and chairman, they called. It's not broadcast over in Japan, but they are checking maybe the website, and yeah, scoring. And they are so excited.
Q. And Brett, are you going to keep the mustache?
BRETT MOFFITT: No, it's gone. It's gone.
SCOTT ZIPADELLI: No.
BRETT MOFFITT: We'll see. We'll see what the ladies say.
Q. For both of you, you just alluded to this. Coming so close to winning that first championship and losing it on the last lap, and then this year you've won a couple of your races on the last lap. It's been certainly a thrilling combination. If you guys could just kind of talk about that.
BRETT MOFFITT: I would say the majority of it is Shige has just built such a better race team than we had back then, and not to put anyone down, but the people he has in place now with everyone from Mike Ricci to Scott Zipadelli and everyone through the company is so much stronger that a lot of the races we battle back from adversity and still win or still run up front. And as long as I feel like pretty much‑‑ except Kentucky this year, we showed up to every race, and if we executed it how we needed to, we could have won the race. And if we didn't, then we ran poorly, I guess.
But as far as speed goes and the people on the team, we could battle back from anything. It didn't matter if we got set back on a pit stop or back in traffic, we would always end up front. A couple of our wins we could have had a more dominating performance. It just so happened that it worked out to be a last‑lap deal. I feel like last week at Phoenix once we got to the lead, we probably could have led the majority of the race. But it works out how it works out, and I was a dumbass and sped on pit road, and thankfully we got it back.
Q. Brett, this season drivers such as Ryan Preece and Ross Chastain got a chance to make a name for themselves in top equipment in the qualify series. Tonight you've gone a step further and you took a team that almost didn't make all the races this season to the title. With all that said, how much confidence do you as the 2018 truck champion and the 2015 Rookie of the Year in Cup Series have moving forward in your NASCAR career, where it seems that talent might be getting a better look at advancing through the ranks?
BRETT MOFFITT: You really worded that well. I saw you reading. You had to write that one down, huh?
I'm confident in my ability. I'm confident that if I get the right opportunity, yeah, I can go win Xfinity championships and Cup championships. You know, it's‑‑ I've been‑‑ I've spent most of my career in non‑race winning equipment, and as soon as I got in race‑winning equipment with Scott and Shige, we won a championship. I'm 100 percent confident in my ability, just need the right opportunity.
Q. Shige, 20 years ago you won your first IndyCar lights race here at Homestead. Tonight you're crowned the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner champion. Which one is sweeter?
SHIGEAKI HATTORI: Well, it was a long time ago. This place, I have good memories. But today, I talked to Scott, normally I was so nervous when we are leading, but today I was so confident that nobody going to catch up to our truck.
The last 10 laps, I was thinking same as when I won here in Indy Lights. This place is so great. I have such good memories.
Q. Brett, how long does the party go for?
BRETT MOFFITT: Until we get kicked out of the DL lot tonight.
Q. I've got one for each of you. For Shige, you've done something that a lot of smaller teams are trying to do right now, too, to try to build not only a team into a winner, but you've built them into a champion with I believe nine or ten full‑time employees. What's the secret? How do you put together something to this scale, such a small operation?
SHIGEAKI HATTORI: Well, nothing is a secret. Definitely the money part is a big part of car racing, but it's not only money, and even if we spend $10 million‑‑ if we spend the wrong part and it doesn't happen, I think this sport is definitely a people sport. We have a good small group. We have good people and good team manager and good crew chief and good driver and good mechanics. All one package, I think. Today our hard work paid off. Crew chief working almost 12 hours a day, and then I really pushed myself, okay, we need to find more money. So that's definitely one group.
Q. Brett, I feel like all season long, it's been a series of excuses from other teams in the sense that when you won Atlanta people said, oh, it's because Kyle had his misfortune late in the race and then it turned into the engine story, then you've won six races and now you're here. Was there a part of you that went into this weekend thinking, there's no way I can't win this championship to allow them to have that sentiment?
BRETT MOFFITT: Yeah. You know, as the season went on, it didn't bother us, but it was more and more of a joke, where they were complaining about the rules changes hurt us and we still won Phoenix, and then the guy that runs seventh decided to complain about it when he got beat by six other or five other Ilmor motors, and we had an Ilmor in it tonight, and I don't know where he finished, but he didn't beat us, so I don't know what his excuse is now.
Q. Very similar question for Scott, same thing. You've said all along that it's not the engine that was winning, it was your trucks, your team, your driver. Does this validate that stance?
SCOTT ZIPADELLI: Who won? Who won the championship? Like I said last week when we had this conversation, I would love to stir the pot because it's fun. But I'm really not that kind of a guy.
But I'm confident they just got beat by a better team right now. We have focused on our own program and not anybody else's program. Every one of our employees has their head down working on the plan that we have, and they're not worried about what KBM is doing or what GMS is doing and who's running what oil. We have just laid a blueprint out what works for us, and it's worked all year. Were we forced to go to the‑‑ change the engine to come here? Yes, we had to.
Q. Shige was talking about the people. Do you believe it's possible for any team, any sort of budget, any sort of size to be able to do what you guys have done, as long as you have the right driver, the right crew chief, the right package?
SCOTT ZIPADELLI: Absolutely. I've worked for teams that we've had‑‑ when I worked for Turner Scott and I had more people, more resources and had a full fab shop, chassis shop, fab shop, you name it. We didn't have the level of details that we have today because there's two of us in the fab shop, myself and one other guy.
Sometimes bigger isn't always better. When you have a three‑truck team or a two‑truck team, there's a lot of‑‑ you get animosity between trucks or teams, and you've got a lot of drama or distractions going on in the company. We just focus on what our program is and what our goals are, and I mean, we've gotten better throughout the season. You know, this truck, we've raced at Vegas, and honestly, we didn't run that great in Vegas. We almost won Vegas, but we were probably a fifth‑place truck maybe. But we cut it up. We cut it up for the past three weeks, four weeks, and we worked long nights, and everybody had a smile on their face and they had their heads down and they wanted to do this.
This is just to me‑‑ I manage it like it's just like a stick‑and‑ball or a football team. It's all about their people and having a good plan and letting the people do their jobs and not micromanaging them. When you get the right people, it makes it fun.
Q. Brett and Scott, you were somewhat inconsistent throughout the year, but you end the season with a second, a third and back‑to‑back wins. Did you see that coming?
BRETT MOFFITT: Yeah. I think it goes back to execution. Our inconsistency throughout the season was just‑‑ I mean, Kansas we had a part failure where I feel like we could have won the race and just weird shit like that happened, where Dover we qualified poorly and we ended up Friesen wrecked us on the first lap, and we had a really good truck there. I think our inconsistency was just due to poor execution and things happening. I feel like, like I said, everywhere but Kentucky, I feel like we had a race‑winning truck. Which was just whether or not we had things go our way and executed the race properly.
SCOTT ZIPADELLI: Yeah, I agree with Brett. We've gotten a couple of wrecks, we've had a couple of self‑induced issues, some my responsibility, some on Brett, some of it's our communication‑‑
BRETT MOFFITT: I wrecked at Texas.
SCOTT ZIPADELLI: But you know, we started off the race too free at Texas, and we wrecked. But yeah, like I said, I felt confident that we could win. I felt like we should have won three or four more races that we gave away. But like, that's the way it goes. But to win six and then come down here, and like last week, we hear all the boo‑hoo and whining about our engine, and they were afraid we were going to bring the Mark Cronquist TRD engine down here and it was going to be a joke. We came down with the same engine they had, and we pretty much kicked their butt.
Not being cocky about it, but that's just what happened. We put our heads down and worked on our program, and Brett did everything he needed to do, the pit crew did everything they needed to do, the guys at the shop‑‑ it was just kind of a perfect execution for the past two or three weeks preparing for this.
Q. Shige, the question I'm going to ask, perhaps maybe you can kind of give a general consensus of what other owners think in the series. How effective has the Ilmor spec engine been this season, both from a performance standpoint and a financial standpoint for the team?
SCOTT ZIPADELLI: Could you say that one more time? What was the last part?
Q. About the spec engine.
SCOTT ZIPADELLI: Like what I feel like, if it helped the program or hurt the program? No, I don't feel like there's any financial gain in the spec program. We don't really need to get into all that right now, but by the time you hire employees and you fix issues and you change your trucks and all that, at the end of the day, I don't know. I'm not an engine guy, so I hire an engine guy to build my engines. I'm not a gear guy, so I hire a gear guy to build my transmissions and gears. I'm a fabricator, crew chief, chassis guy. So I hire people to do what I can't do, so I don't want to own engines and work on engines.
When you go to a spec engine you own them and you have to be responsible for them, you have to check your filters, you have to check your mileage, you have to take care of all those parts and pieces. When you don't own them and you just pay for a lease program, they drop one off and they pick one up and they send a guy with it to babysit it for the weekend. And you know that that leasing company is going to give you everything they possibly can because they want to win. If they don't win, they won't lease any engines, right?
When you partner with Mark Cronquist at Joe Gibbs Racing engines, you know you're going to get the best that he can provide you within that budget. And when you compare that budget to the budget of owning six of your own engines, I don't personally feel like there's any savings.
Q. Tom kind of alluded to it earlier that you've become the first champion from the state of Iowa. Can you comment on winning Iowa the same year that you win the championship and being the first champion from Iowa?
BRETT MOFFITT: Yeah, it just means a lot to me. I've had so many people from my home state support me in my career, and I've had a lot of sponsorship partners from there, as well, and a lot of them were here tonight, and just the biggest thing was winning in Iowa on Father's Day was super special to me, or on Father's Day weekend, and yeah, I mean, bringing a championship back to Iowa is certainly something that's going to go a long way. To be able to be the first person to do that as far as I know, that's amazing. I mean, it's just my home state has supported me so much throughout my career and the people there that I'm just glad that the major friends, family and supporters from there were here tonight, and we're going to go drink beer with them shortly.
Q. Chris alluded to it earlier about the Indy Lights win here 20 years ago, but the guy sitting to your left was also the driver who gave you your very first Truck Series start. What's it mean to be able to bring everything full circle with him tonight?
SHIGEAKI HATTORI: Well, a couple months ago, I counted, okay, how many wins we did. Five truck wins, today six. And three K&N wins. But all this driver. I don't know, I think Brett and Scott, they have really good relationship. During the race, they are so calm. But normally I put as a driver, sometimes during the race they are fighting, but then almost nothing. Pretty quiet. But every time, boom.
So same with myself and Brett. I think we are a good combination, and I don't know why, but yeah, definitely yeah, he's the driver for me.
Q. Brett, when Red Horse shut down and you were suddenly left without a ride, could you have ever pictured a year to follow like the one you've had this year?
BRETT MOFFITT: No. You know, it was late in the off‑season that this deal came together, and I didn't know how many races it was going to be for, and fortunately we were able to go out there and win a race early and get everyone's minds thinking of what this year could be. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of frustration, but in the end we prevailed.
I've been through a lot of ups and downs in my career, a lot of times I'm unemployed, and I'd say I've been through it enough times that now I'm going to save my money. 2015 I was rich, 2016 I was broke. Hopefully I'm a little smarter this go‑around.
Q. Refresh me, how long have you been with him?
SCOTT ZIPADELLI: With Brett? Too long. The first time Brett and I did a race together, he drove the Xfinity car for me I think it was 2011, '10 or '11, at Iowa.
Q. How sweet is this for you two tonight, everything you guys have been through?
SCOTT ZIPADELLI: Oh, it's so sweet. It's so sweet. And then when Ben Kennedy left Red Horse, he was my driver on the 11, I lobbied for Brett to fill in there. We had five races, and we were like fifth, fourth, second, or third, fourth, and then we won a race. So I don't know. I mean, I think of all the drivers I've worked with, I can kind of read him a little bit better than some of the other ones, but it just works well. He does a great job.
I think we're similar in certain ways. We don't waste a lot of time on stuff that doesn't mean anything. There's not a lot of extra words in what the truck is doing or what's going on. It's just‑‑ I don't know, it's just‑‑ it seems pretty much easier than other partnerships I've had. But it's‑‑ again, this is a team sport, and together collectively the group that we have together with Shige, Shige's ownership and all of his global partners that support us, and Mike Ricci running the operations and me handling the truck stuff and the concrete end of it, and then my truck chief Tim Rice handling what he does, it's just a very ‑‑ it just works, and it‑‑ I mean, I don't know how to really explain it any better. But it's a system that works very well.
Q. Brett, when you were running the limited schedule in '16 and '17, how afraid were you that the window of opportunity was closing on your career with the push for 18‑, 19‑, 20‑year olds, even though you weren't that much older than them?
BRETT MOFFITT: I was never really worried about an age thing. It's more of the financial situation, honestly. There's a lot of those young guys that are there because they have the backing, and it's frustrating as a driver who‑‑ feel like I've proven myself time and time again when I do get opportunities on a limited basis. On a fill‑in basis, I feel like I've always performed to the expectations or above to the equipment that I'm in. That was frustrating, but all in all, I mean, I've been put through a lot of stuff in my career, and it only makes me stronger as a driver and a competitor, where they don't necessarily learn those lessons, some of those guys. I think when everything does work out, it's only going to make me better.
Q. Fair to say you've been knocked down a couple times but you keep coming back. At some point some people might stop, so how does somebody like you keep coming back up after, in essence, kind of getting knocked down?
BRETT MOFFITT: I mean, I've wanted to quit a hundred times. I've been at some really low points in my career, and I let this consume my whole life, and I've been in some miserable spots in life. But my family and my father have always stuck behind me and taught me a lesson that it doesn't really matter what happens in life. If you keep working and you believe in yourself, it's going to happen, and they believe in me, and they give me the opportunity to keep bettering myself.
You know, it's just one of these days things are going to go my way and things are going to work out, and hopefully I'm a Cup champion one day.
Q. You guys join an elite group of drivers and teams as champions in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition. What advice would you give kind of your younger self knowing that you're sitting up here as the champions in NASCAR?
SCOTT ZIPADELLI: Don't do it.
It's a lot of sacrifice. I've been on the road for 30 years. I've missed a lot of birthday parties, a lot of ‑‑ you name it, you miss it. But if you love it and it's your passion, go for it, because if you want to‑‑ you have the philosophy, well, if I want to be like a successful surgeon, I'm going to work like just as much as I work now, right? So what's the difference?
But I guess when you're sitting up here and accomplish what we've accomplished when the cards were stacked against us, it makes it worth it. You know?
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports