18-year-old Davis hired to drive Moss truck in Craftsman Series

Updated: August 25, 2008, 8:03 PM ET
By Ed Hinton | ESPN.com

Randy Moss Motorsports has hired 18-year-old Marc Davis to drive in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series beginning Sept. 6 at St. Louis, and for a total of "probably about six races this year," Davis said Monday in a telephone interview.

Davis is widely considered the African American driver nearest to making a major breakthrough in NASCAR. But his father, Harry Davis, said the deal as it came together "was never about diversity, as many would play it up to be. It's about dollars."

"I've been preparing for it all my life," Marc Davis said of his first step into a major NASCAR division. He will drive the same truck reigning Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson drove at Bristol, Tenn., last week.

Moss, the New England Patriots wide receiver, became a partner earlier this year in the team formerly known as Morgan-Dollar, which won eight Truck races and finished second in season points three straight years, 2003-2005, with Dennis Setzer as driver.

"When it was Morgan-Dollar they got a lot of wins, and they've had a really good truck," said Marc Davis. "Randy Moss and David Dollar have given me a wonderful opportunity."

Davis received special permission to drive for Moss from J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing, where Davis has been a development driver alongside Joey Logano for the past two years.

Harry Davis said the deal came together quickly because Marc brought his own sponsorship, from Howard University-affiliated radio station WHUR in Washington, D.C.

"Randy came into NASCAR with the intention of getting some good drivers, but having enough latitude that he could give a development driver a shot," Harry Davis said. "Because Marc is a Joe Gibbs driver, we needed J.D.'s O.K. to go drive for a Chevrolet team [Gibbs fields Toyotas]. J.D. doesn't have a truck team ... So he said 'Go for it.'"

Without the factors coming together, the deal wouldn't have worked, according to Harry Davis.

"Here comes a kid with a record you could track the last 12 years," he said. "He's run in the Camping World series; he's driving for Joe Gibbs. Here's a team owner who wanted to give a young kid a shot, and here comes a kid who's got his own money."

Moss was unavailable for comment Monday, but "Randy's excited to help Marc get the opportunity," said Tim Martin, vice president of the racing team.

"We've been asked what it means, and what we hope for out of the [first] race," Harry Davis said. "But we're just going to enjoy the moment that Marc has made it from Point A to Point B. Just the fact that he's in the race is an accomplishment for him, from where he came from. He started out on a BMX bicycle 12 years ago. Getting a shot to drive in the Craftsman Truck Series is a big deal.

"So where he finishes [at St. Louis] is irrelevant. His job is to give the drivers there -- [Ron] Hornaday, [Johnny] Benson, [Mike] Skinner, [Todd] Bodine -- room to run their points race, give them the respect he owes them, and drive a nice, clean race and run in front if he can ... just to run where he can run ..."

Ed Hinton is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at edward.t.hinton@espn3.com.