Quit. That was one word not in the vocabulary for Dillon Moltz and his Mark Brackett-owned Late Model team during the 2014 racing season. Moltz, a native of Waterford, Connecticut, had his fair share of ups and downs throughout the Granite State Pro Stock Series campaign, but every time the team was knocked down, they bounced back even higher.
That no-quit attitude and a strong late-season surge is what propelled Moltz and the No. 5 RB Performance team to their first career Granite State Pro Stock Series championship.
“It feels like I just won a race, but I’m the 2014 champion,” Moltz said after finishing sixth and clinching the championship earlier this month at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT). “I think we’re the most deserving team out there for everything we’ve had to endure. We’ve had more flat tires this year than I’ve had my entire racing career. To come back through and get solid finishes and make solid rebounds is what makes a champion in my book.”
Throughout the 2014 season, Moltz’s team struggled to get Lady Luck on their side. From flat tires to tangling with slower traffic while leading, circumstances out of his control prevented Moltz from picking up his first series win until September when he won at Star Speedway (NH). On each occasion, when many thought the team was down and out, they rebounded to secure a solid top-10 or top-five finish.
“When you get thrown down and have to work your way back up, fight for what you believe in and fight for what you’re passionate about,” said Moltz. “Every spot I had to fight for this year after having to pit or getting spun out or whatever, it makes the difference at the end. You get every position you’re capable of and at the end of the year it all pays off.”
For the majority of the 2014 season, Moltz didn’t appear to be in the driver’s seat to win the season’s championship. He had shown the speed to be a champion, but the tough luck appeared to be too much to overcome. That was until point leader Matt Frahm suffered some tough luck of his own when he was involved in an accident with another competitor during the season’s penultimate event at White Mountain Motorsports Park (NH).
Moltz would go on to finish that race in the third position. The results of the event in North Woodstock, New Hampshire would turn the table and put Moltz in the driver’s seat with a 16-point advantage over Larry Gelinas and 17-point advantage over Frahm heading into the final race at Thompson.
“We went through a lot at White Mountain, too,” said Moltz. “We bounced off the wall and went through the grass. We made out really good finishing third. Those finishes are what matter at the end of the year.”
Starting on the front row at Thompson, Moltz knew he just needed to play it smart and avoid trouble in order to clinch the title. He would lead early on, but when his fellow competitors began to put the pressure on, Moltz did his best to think big picture.
“We just knew we had to be smart coming in here,” said Moltz. “Other than that I hadn’t looked at the points all year long. Neither did any of my guys. We weren’t points racing at all this year. We just came into this last race and knew what we needed to do and had to play it smart. I just didn’t want to do anything stupid. I was just riding out there and I knew where those guys were and where I needed to be.”
For Moltz, his first career touring series championship goes straight to the top of his racing resume. Still, he’s quick to pass credit to two of the people who helped him most throughout the 2014 season.
“It means a lot to be a champion on a touring series,” said Moltz. “I just wanted to be a contender on a touring series; I didn’t really think I’d be a champion that quickly in my rookie season. Running the tour full-time, it means the world for me to grab the championship, especially for my car owner Mark Brackett and crew chief Ricky Rolfe. It means the world to me. They were very deserving of it.”
Rolfe, the 2003 track champion at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME), works full-time for Brackett at RB Performance in Andover, Maine. Throughout the season, Rolfe spent a countless amount of hours preparing the car in the shop. He also served as both a crew chief and mentor to Moltz on race day.
“Ricky has taught me so much about tour racing,” said Moltz. “I’ve always been good at extra distance races. We did really well at Stafford when it came to 100 lappers, but that’s your comfort level when you’re on your home track going extra distances. When you’re going to different tracks and having to save your stuff, he really taught me tire management and helped me on the radio giving me tips.
“Between Ricky, myself and Mark Brackett, we put our head together to get as great of a setup as we could in the car week in and week out. Ricky busts his butt in the shop. I think we’ve all taught each other, bouncing ideas off of each other. Mark and Ricky have both taught me a lot as a driver to get better.”
As the team bounced ideas off of each other, they continued to get better and the results showed. They picked up their first win in September and just over a month later they celebrated a championship together at Thompson.
“To get a win and a championship in a touring series when there’s been 10 different winners this year proves a lot. It’s a pretty tough division.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Feature Photo Credit: Speed51.com.