ABBOTTSTOWN, Pa. – Before Saturday’s Ice Breaker at Lincoln Speedway, Kyle Moody held a team meeting.
Such a get together is a yearly occurrence for Moody Motorsports: a time to focus on what’s important for the upcoming season. This meeting, though, had distinct meaning.
“I told everyone we definitely have pressure this year,” Moody said. “This is the year we need to step up.”
When Saturday ended, Moody was understandably frustrated, as he lost what appeared to be a surefire win and settled for a runner-up finish to Tim Wagaman.
It’s a solid points day for Moody, who is running Lincoln’s full schedule this year, but even that didn’t suffice. The 30-year-old has lofty expectations for himself and his program this year and just wants to capitalize on every opportunity.
“Between equipment and crew personnel, it’s the highest expectation it’s ever been,” Moody said in a phone interview Saturday night. “It’s definitely the highest expectations we’ve had. It’s the first year we’re adding pressure to everyone without taking out the fun.”
Moody is normally a talkative individual, someone more than willing to carry out a conversation and elaborate. But in this instance, as another opening day victory slipped out of grasp, Moody was in no mood for chatter.
“I’m just so upset at myself,” Moody said on the front stretch after finishing second. “Hey, it is what it is. Sucks going backward once you’re on top. It is what it is. I just want one of these opening day Ice Breaker wins so damn bad. I’ve been so close so many times.”
After drawing the pole for the opening race of the year in central Pennsylvania, Moody positioned himself for his first win since 2019.
But on a lap-five restart, Wagaman caught Moody off-guard with the go-ahead pass a groove higher, thwarting his hopes of victory.
“I just did not think it was possible,” Moody said of Wagaman passing him on the outside given the narrow racing surface. “Clearly, Timmy showed it was.
“I should’ve known better to open up my entry getting into one a little bit, so he didn’t have had the room to get a run on me,” Moody added.
Perhaps the reason Moody badly wants an Ice Breaker win is because it removes the weight of hunting for victory No. 1 out of the gate. Also, it was the first sprint car race of the year in central Pennsylvania, so all eyes were on the event.
This is the fifth straight year Moody has finished inside the top-seven at the Ice Breaker. In 2019 and ’20, he finished seventh both times. In 2017 and ’18 he finished second and third, respectively, and won his heats.
On Saturday, Moody finished second in his heat, made the redraw, then drew the pole and led the opening five laps. He raced out to a two-second lead on Wagaman prior to the race’s first caution for Jordan Mackison.
That’s when Wagaman overtook Moody on the ensuing restart, and all Moody could do was try to make something happen in slower traffic.
“I thought I was going to get him back [in lapped traffic],” Moody said. “I threw everything I had and that was it.”
This is the eighth year at the 410 level for Moody Motorsports, which is operated by the Moody family. The team will once again race regularly at Lincoln and Williams Grove Speedways.
Last year was a trying year for Moody and company. After ranking 14th in money earned in a stingy Pennsylvania Speedweek field, Moody suffered a concussion just two weeks later.
That sidelined him for a month, and even when he returned he had to ease into action.
This year, Moody is ready to take the next step. He’s added experienced personnel to his team, which is giving him optimism for this season and beyond.
“I have no reason we’re not a top team,” Moody said. “In my mind, there are no more excuses.”