Thad Moffitt, the 16-year-old grandson of seven time NASCAR Cup champion Richard Petty, will make his ARCA Racing Series debuit on Saturday night in the Music City 200 presented by Azure Foundation at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, Tennessee.
This weekend’s race will mark Moffitt’s first career ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards start. The 16-year-old tested with Empire Racing Group, a development team of Richard Petty Motorsports, on the historic high-banked short-track last week, and proved he was ready for the next challenge.
“I learned a lot in a few hours,” said Moffitt via a team release. “I need a little more speed. I know we have it…it’s just a matter of getting fully comfortable in the car. I realize now that I should have done a couple things differently, but it’s all part of the learning process.”
As Moffitt continues to learn about the business of stock car racing, he has the option of seeking out his famous grandfather for advice.
“He’ll (Richard Petty) give me advice if I ask, but he wants me to learn on my own, just like Adam (Petty) and Uncle Kyle (Petty) did. We all have different driving styles so advice for one won’t always work for the other.”
No matter how things go for Moffitt in his ARCA debut at Nashville, there is no doubt he has already decided that racing is his focus and what he wants to continue to do in the future.
“This is what I want to do…there’s nothing that I love more than racing. There’s been absolutely no pressure from my family at all. Nobody told me I had to be a race driver. This is what I want.”
And so far, so good for the fourth-generation Petty family racer. Moffitt won the Southeast Limited Late Model Series championship in 2016, winning a main event at Anderson Motor Speedway in South Carolina.
Moffitt found out that the heavier ARCA cars handle much differently than the lighter late models.
“There’s a big feel difference, especially coming off the corner. The ARCA cars have so much more horsepower. I was spinning my tires bad, but I learned to feed it gas as I go…then I picked up speed.
“Nashville’s an amazing track. I learned that it’s got multiple grooves. You could enter low and let it push up and bring it back down coming off. But once the tires got to 75 laps or so, you could pretty-much run the second groove all the way around. I love the banking in that track…the way it sucks you into the corner.”
Moffitt also says he’s “really excited” for his ARCA debut.
“Definitely…I’m really excited. I know there is going to be a lot of really competitive drivers…some of these guys have been running this series for years, but I’m looking forward to all the competition. If I could finish the race and come out with a top-10 with all those strong competitors, I’d call that a successful ARCA debut.”
If there’s no pressure from his family, Moffitt says he puts it on himself.
“Yeah I do put it on me. I’ve got big shoes to fill but I know everybody’s going to be proud of me and they’re still going to love me whether I come home 30th or in the top-10. But yeah there’s some pressure for me. Uncle Kyle won in his first ARCA race at Daytona and Adam won at Charlotte. I don’t have to tell you about my grandfather…these are big shoes.”
This year’s Music City 200 will also include the North-South Shootout with the Southern Super Series and the ARCA CRA Super Series combo race. Last year, CRA got added to the Super Late Model mix to create the North-South shootout. The field saw a jump to 35 cars featuring some of the best short track racers in the country, with Donnie Wilson winning the top prize over Steven Wallace.
Super Late Models have a practice session Friday night, April 7 from 4-7 p.m. On Saturday, April 8, North-South Shootout practice will begin at 12 noon, with North-South Shootout qualifying at 3pm. General Tire Pole Qualifying for the ARCA Racing Series is at 4:15pm, with racing action following at 5:45pm with the North-South Shootout presented by Team Construction 100. Race fans will be treated to the ARCA Racing Series Music City 200 grand finale at 8pm. The Music City 200 will be aired on MAVTV.
Discounted presale tickets for the event are available for $25, a $5 discount off raceday ticket prices. They are available by calling the event promoters Track Enterprises at 615-470-5214 or 217-764-3200.