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Thad Moffitt's Faction46 Chevrolet truck runs a lap prior to a race in the Craftsmen Truck Series.

4th generation Petty gets full-time ride

LEVEL CROSS — His last name is Moffitt but he’s a Petty through and through.


Thad Moffitt plans to continue the Petty racing heritage starting with a full season in the Craftsman Truck Series. His Faction46 Chevrolet is owned by Lane Moore of Oklahoma and is being built by Niece Motorsports of Salisbury. Moffitt’s crew chief is Doug George.


Moffitt took time for an interview at Petty’s Garage, the historic site where his great-grandfather, Lee Petty, first began building and driving race cars. The 23-year-old hopes to continue that legacy in the years ahead.


Moffitt may be a rookie on the truck circuit but he’s been racing since he was little.


“I started racing in the front parking lot (of Petty’s Garage) where we set out four cones,” he said. “My parents bought quarter midget go-karts and me and my brother Harrison would race for hours.”


A few years later at the ages of 12 to 14, Moffitt raced competitively at go-kart tracks at Liberty, Coleridge and State Line Speedway in Lawsonville near the Virginia line. Eventually, he went nationwide.


When Moffitt was 15, he began driving late model stock cars. His first race was at Caraway Speedway near Asheboro and he ran races throughout the Southeast. That led to moving on to Trans Am and ARCA races before running a few truck races in 2022.


Moffitt ran the complete Trans Am series in 2023, driving the No. 43 Chevrolet for TeamSLR with support from Petty's Garage in the TA2 class.


Then on Dec. 8, 2023, Moffitt and his team announced that he would be driving the Faction46 Chevrolet for the entire 2024 Craftsman Truck Series. He also plans to drive in a few Trans Am races during the year.


He’s excited to begin his first full season of racing on a NASCAR circuit with a successful crew chief and experienced truck builder. But it all came down to meeting Moore during a race at Bristol.


A member of Moore’s marketing team was talking to a Petty marketer last summer. Moore owns a retail grocery business in Oklahoma and is a long-time NASCAR fan. With other family members to run his business, Moore felt ready to do a deep dive into the racing world.


“I met Lane at Bristol and he made me feel like a part of the family, that he’ll take care of me,” Moffitt said.


After that first meeting, Moffitt told his father, Brian, that they needed to do this. Eventually, the plans were developed, Niece Motorsports was brought in to build the trucks and George was recruited as the crew chief.


The first race was at Daytona, where Moffitt qualified 10th but was knocked out of the race by a wreck on the fifth lap. His next race was at Las Vegas on March 1 and then he’ll race at Bristol on March 16. The truck races are aired on FS1 (Channel 400 on Spectrum cable).


Moffitt said that when he first announced that he wanted a career in racing, his parents had mixed emotions. “Mom was really skeptical at first but now she’s my biggest supporter,” he said. 


But his mother, Rebecca Petty Moffitt, had the influence and wisdom of her own mother, the late Lynda Petty, who supported a husband, father-in-law and son who raced cars. Thad Moffitt said it was different for his mother to have a son racing instead of her father and brother. “But she gained a lot from her mom.”


Later, Rebecca appeared in the garage and said her first emotion was based on racing being “a brutal sport. If you lose your sponsor, you’re out of a job. But he loves it. My father has nine grandsons but only two were bit by the bug.”


The other racing grandson was Adam, who lost his life in a racing accident in 2000. 


As for Brian Moffitt, Thad’s father, the first reaction to his son wanting to drive race cars was, “It’s incredible. He’s worked really hard to have the opportunity to run full-time. It’s been his goal for a long time. It’s surreal. A lot of folks are pulling for him.


“We want to win races,” Brian said. “We couldn’t thank Lane Moore enough, as well as Niece.”


Brian Moffitt is involved in the daily activities of his son, particularly the marketing aspect of racing. “He’s been with me every step of the way,” Thad said.


Thad Moffitt has goals for this season. “I want to win, for sure.” A successful season his first year, he said, would be to win Rookie of the Year and finish in the top 15 in points, out of the 36 teams.


Asked if it was necessary to move from the Craftsman Truck Series to the Xfinity Series before going to the Cup Series, Moffitt said that’s not the way it is nowadays. He named three drivers who had moved directly from trucks to Cup.


As for Moffitt, he has a lot to prove before thinking about running the highest circuit. Not to mention having the Petty name to uphold.


“People ask me what it’s like to be the grandson of Richard Petty,” he said. “I don’t know what it’s like not to be.”


Moffitt said he’s always had a close relationship with his “Peepaw,” going with him to church, shooting skeet, fishing and lots of other activities. So he’s had the wisdom of Richard Petty to rely on.


“No matter how much he won (races) or his legacy, he treats everyone the same,” Moffitt said. “He shakes hands the same way, whether it’s the president or anybody else.


“He told me, ‘If nobody comes to watch you race, you don’t have a job, and to show them the respect they deserve.’


“For me, I don’t like a lot of pressure,” Moffitt said. “Being Richard Petty’s grandson is not an option. It’s amplified with NASCAR, being compared every sort of way. I don’t feel pressure. If I wreck on the fifth lap at Daytona, my family is still going to love me. We support each other.”


Daytona darlings

Daytona has meant a lot to the Petty family ever since its beginning in 1959. Lee Petty, Richard’s father, won the first race on the 2.5-mile oval. For that first race, Bob Welborn won the pole and started in first place.


At Daytona this year, Thad Moffitt proposed marriage to Lauren Welborn, great-granddaughter of Bob Welborn. Their great-grandfathers started and finished the race. Now they’ll begin a venture of their own — no starting date as yet.


Rebecca said Thad gave Lauren a ring he designed and its diamond was Lynda Petty’s.