Two years ago, Chris Our had a vision. He wanted to take Out Motorsports to the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He was all in.
Growing up around the racing industry, Our first went racing as a team owner in the 1980s in a local modified division up north. In 2012, he returned as a team owner with the late Mike Stefanik as the driver in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Four years later, Our fielded an ARCA Menards Series car for Andy Seuss at Talladega Superspeedway. The team ran a total of 14 ARCA races throughout the 2019 season.
But Our wanted to progress, immediately.
With the goal of competing at one of NASCAR’s top three national touring levels, he purchased an Xfinity chassis from GMS Racing during the 2019 season, though he didn’t run it that year. Over the 2019 offseason, Our bought additional chassis and points from GMS to go full-time racing in 2020.
The move to Xfinity was simple: more eyes.
“In Xfinity, you step it up: it’s more exposure, everyone is televised, got a big following, so marketing and sponsors are 100% better,” Our recently told Jayski.com about starting a full-time Xfinity team. “Not that it’s easy, but it’s a lot easier in that series.”
In its debut season, Our Motorsports showed flashes of real speed, earning three fifth-place finishes with Brett Moffitt and Andy Lally and a total of nine top 10s. Moffitt, the team’s primary driver, even led 25 laps from the pole at Dover International Speedway last August.
Diving into the deep end, Our was pleased — though not content — with his team’s performance in its rookie campaign.
“If we stayed out of trouble and didn’t have any of our own mechanical issues from a team learning, we did very well,” he said. “We thought we could be between a 12th- and 15th-place car coming out of the box.”
Considering the team was short staffed with just a handful of full-time employees, several people wore multiple hats. One of those was veteran crew chief Joe Williams, who spent the previous season with StarCom Racing in the Cup Series, leading the way for Landon Cassill.
Williams, who’s been in the sport for more than years, has spent time on both big teams and small teams. But this time, he wanted to be part of the foundation of a new team and gain his love back for racing.
“I’ve always liked racing, like the competition,” Williams said. “The thing is, when you go to the racetrack and you’re not competitive — you put in the same hours as everyone else, you put in the same work ethic to try to go out there and compete –but you come up short for one reason or the other.
“I [didn’t] lose the desire, but it was painful to go to the racetrack, put all that effort in and really the results didn’t equal what I wanted. With this deal, it got my juices flowing to where I really thought we could be competitive and go out and compete for wins.”
Then, there’s Moffitt, a proven NASCAR champion, winning the 2018 Camping World Truck Series title with Hattori Racing Enterprises. Originally, the Iowa native was on a four-race deal with Our Motorsports last year, but after three top-20 runs in those four races, the team wanted him to run the bulk of the schedule in its No. 02 car.
This season, Moffitt is back with the team full time. Prior to his announcement with Niece Motorsports in early December, this was the only opportunity he had for 2021. But he saw great promise from 2020, which made him eager to return to Our.
“They really spent a lot of time on the cars and getting better,” Moffitt said of the team. “They knew where they needed to get better. That’s what motivated me to sign up and commit to run full time.”
Getting better, indeed. Particularly its engine package.
Our fired off the 2021 campaign with Moffitt driving the No. 02 Chevrolet to a runner-up finish at Daytona International Speedway. At the Daytona road course, he spent the majority of the event inside the top 10, had a brake issue and still finished 11th. The team showed out at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where Moffitt was in contention to win late before making contact with the wall and blowing a right front tire. At the same time, the team’s second car for this season, driven by two-time champion Tyler Reddick in South Beach, crossed the finish line in second. Unfortunately, the No. 23 failed post-race inspection.
At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Moffitt was involved in a late-race melee, before finishing ninth last weekend at Phoenix Raceway.
Nonetheless, the team has kicked off the 2021 season with a bang.
“[Williams] does a really good job of finding the right people for this type of right team, and finding really talented workers that [can do multiple jobs],” Moffitt said. “It’s putting a team together with the right people.”
Aside from starting up the second team, Our Motorsports more than doubled its headcount in the shop to 11 employees. The team also purchased a few more additional chassis, but potentially the most important new asset is its engine deal, leasing motors from ECR (Earnhardt Childress Racing).
Surely, the team is taking advantage of running more horsepower than it had in 2020, when it ran Collins Racing Engines — based out of Salisbury, N.C. — in all but one race.
“With the lease deal with ECR, you’re actually getting better, because if they go to the dyno and find [something] that’s better or timing is better or find a carburetor setting, then you’re going to get that in your next race,” Williams said. “You can keep up with everybody that has that.”
But getting that additional speed comes with a price. Or as Moffitt puts it, “In this sport, money is speed. How fast do you want to go?”
Compared to last year, Williams stated the team is spending approximately double the cost per race on engine. It boils down to nearly $12,000-$15,000 more per race. Over a 33-race schedule, and adding a second car, the finances add up.
But Our tries to not look at the fiscal damage that can cause.
“It’s quite a bit of money,” Our said with a chuckle. “Sometimes, I try not to look at the [money]. I know what it is. But the motors are definitely making a difference for us. It really shows and that’s where we knew we were lacking.”
Williams stated he knows the improvement from this year to last is solely due to better engines, because he has barely tweaked the setup on each car.
“I felt [the engines] was the missing link for us last year,” he said. “I felt that we had fast cars, knowing that we were down on motor so the setup and the base package we could pretty much fire off a top-12 car. We’ve updated some body stuff over the winter, plugged in this motor program and now we’re two or three spots better.”
Through the first handful of races, Moffitt has an average finish of 12.6, up from his 18.3 average last year. All the while, the team has had limited funding for the No. 02 car, going sponsorless in two races, and having Chevrolet hop on board last weekend at Phoenix.
So how does the team stay afloat with limited funding coming through the doors and still remain competitive?
“The cash flow that comes in with the purses and our own financial backing that we have within our own businesses,” Our said, who owns construction businesses in the northeast. “I do have sponsors that are with me for the year, that are relationship sponsors. I could always put one of my construction companies on.
“When we don’t have real good sponsors, you’re better off not putting anything on the car because people notice that and the phone rings. People see.”
All the while, Williams had the goal of winning two races this season atop his mind. And even with the hot start to the season, that goal hasn’t really changed.
So while some may be surprised in the speed the team has this season, the crew itself is not.
Moffitt said, “I don’t see any reason that we won’t continue to run and compete for wins and top fives.”
Williams agreed, stating, “I think it just shows that we’re not really talking out of our ass. We actually have good stuff; it’s attention to detail in this sport. We’ve got some good people, and really starting to knock it out of the park.”
And the team owner himself sees the potential of Our Motorsports being limitless.
“We do know and realize we’ve come a long way, but we’re not comfortable sitting where we are,” Our said. “We realize we have to keep moving forward. We have a lot to learn and grow and build off of. We need more inventory, we need more cars, we need to build more to keep moving forward and be that top 10 team every single week.”