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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - On the second night in August, Trenton Moriarity thought he watched his shot at the Speedway Chevrolet Super Late Model track championship at Evergreen Speedway go up in flames.
That night Moriarity, 25, was involved in a devastating incident that started when the engine in his super late model suddenly expired as he roared toward turn one. His slowing car collected the cars of Jeff Knight and Tyler Tanner, engulfing all three cars in flames.
“When it all happened, it happened so fast you kind of don’t realize it,” Moriarity said. “Your adrenaline is pumping so fast you’re not thinking clearly. I didn’t even realize Tyler and Jeff were even in it. I finally looked over and saw their cars and saw them on fire. I thought it was just me (in the crash).”
Moriarity and Tanner escaped injury while Knight was briefly hospitalized for burns on his neck and other areas of his body. Moriarity, who was in the thick of the track championship battle with Knight and Daniel Moore, was certain his shot at the championship was over.
“I thought my season was done. I literally watched my car burn. I thought ‘We’re done. This is the final straw.’ It was bad,” Moriarity said. “We loaded the car up and took it home and dropped it off.”
For any other driver and team that would have been the end of it. They could have easily turned their attention to 2018, choosing to take the rest of the year to regroup and rebuild the car.
They could have done that, but they didn’t. With help from his father, multi-time Evergreen Speedway track champion Tom Moriarity, as well as several friends, family and sponsors like Brokk Inc., J2Racing.parts and Lefthander Chassis, the younger Moriarity had his car completely rebuilt in just 12 days.
“My dad went to the shop the next day and took a look at the damage and he was like, ‘You know, it’s not that bad. It’s just the rear clip, the fuel cell and the body and a couple shocks.’ He put his head down and got to work and rallied the guys up,” Moriarity said. “We got a bunch of help from our sponsors. If it wasn’t for the sponsors and my dad being so smart and being around the racing industry so much, I don’t think we would have finished out the season.”
Moriarity returned to Evergreen on Sept. 2, finishing fourth in the same car that was engulfed in flames less than a month before. He then brought the same car back to Evergreen for the season finale on Sept. 16, driving it to victory lane to put the finishing touches on his first super late model track championship.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment based off of my sponsors and my crew because if it wasn’t for them I don’t think I would have been able to get back out there,” Moriarity said. “I think my car would still be a charcoal car right now.”
Moriarity completed the season with three victories - two before the fire and one after the fire - as well as 10 top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. He beat Moore by 44 points to earn his first super late model track championship one year after earning Rookie of the Year honors in the super late model class at Evergreen as well as the Washington state Rookie of the Year.
Those numbers allowed Moriarity to collect not just the track championship, but also the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Washington state championship. He beat Knight by 48 points to earn that championship.
U.S. state and province champions are determined by the best 18 finishes at tracks within the respective state or province.
The championships for Moriarity, who also won a special six-race special event championship at Evergreen this year, came in just his second year in a super late model and his fourth overall racing stock cars. He previously won track championships at Evergreen in the minis class in 2014 and 2015.
Moriarity was honored for his championships at the NASCAR HomeTracks Awards, which took place in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Dec. 8 at the Charlotte Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. It was his second trip to Charlotte after being recognized as the Washington state Rookie of the Year last year.
“I went there last year and experienced it and going back this year, it’s just the next step,” Moriarity said. “You get more recognition and you get more awards presented (to you). You get acknowledged more and you go there representing your state and your track. I think it’s a great honor and it’s great to be a part of the NASCAR organization.”
So what does 2018 hold for Moriarity? That’s a great question. He’ll likely be back at Evergreen Speedway at least part-time, but he may also do some traveling next year to tracks in other states.
“I haven’t thought about it a lot. I’ve said to my dad that I’ve raced four years now for points, all at Monroe (Evergreen),” Moriarity said. “I’m going to see where the off-season takes me and see what we can lineup for next year. I’d like to hit some big races. I would like to do a couple races in Idaho, a couple races in Olympia at South Sound Speedway. Hopefully do some races in Montana. We’ll just see what 2018 brings to me.
“We’ll start the first of the year and we’ll get a schedule going. I think we’ll be back at Monroe, possibly full-time, we’ll see. I’m not 100 percent yet.”
Trenton Moriarity sped to three wins, 10 top-five and 11 top-10 finishes to win the Speedway Chevrolet Super Late Model track championship at Evergreen Speedway. Courtesy Evergreen Speedway