Toyota NCWTS Michigan Post-Race Recap

by Official Release On Sat, Aug. 11, 2018

Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Michigan International Speedway
Race 15 of 23 – 200 miles, 100 laps
August 11, 2018

2nd, Johnny Sauter*
3rd, John Hunter Nemechek *
*non-Toyota driver

1st, Johnny Sauter* 625 points
2nd, NOAH GRAGSON 569 points
3rd, Grant Enfinger 550 points
4th, Stewart Friesen* 536 points
5th, BRETT MOFFITT 533 points
12th, TODD GILLILAND 371 points
23rd, SPENCER DAVIS 141 points
26th, HARRISON BURTON 113 points
27th, DAVID GILLILAND 107 points
*non-Toyota driver
**unofficial point standings

· Tundra driver Brett Moffitt earned his fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) victory of the 2018 season in Saturday afternoon’s race at Michigan International Speedway.

· Moffitt started from the 21st position and led only 5 (of 100 laps) total laps in today’s race and made an exciting last-lap pass to capture the victory.

· Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates and fellow Tundra drivers Noah Gragson (fourth) and Todd Gilliland (fifth) also earned top-five finishes at the two-mile oval.

· Gragson led a total of 18 laps while Gilliland was out front for eight.

BRETT MOFFITT, No. 16 Hino Toyota Tundra, Hattori Racing Enterprises

Finishing Position: 1st

What does it mean to get the win on a last lap pass?

“I knew Johnny (Sauter) was fast and our Toyota engine, we were lacking a little bit of raw speed today with that, but I was just really waiting to time it. Aisin Group, Toyota and TRD – everything they do for us, they give us the right tools to get the job done. Pretty amazing that this little team has gone to victory lane four times now this year. I can’t thank Shige Hattori (team owner) and all these guys enough.”

How were you able to make the move on Johnny Sauter?

“The whole last however many laps that I was behind him, I was running wide open and I would push him with that air bubble between our bumpers so I tried to back up (turn) one and let him get out there a little bit. I knew the 8 (John Hunter Nemechek) was behind us and I was hoping he would get to us and be able to push us. I was able to plan it right and play it right – it’s just great to get here.”

How were you able to see where to make the move on Johnny Sauter?

“We were running wide open the whole last stint there, once Johnny (Sauter) got out front and I knew his truck was really fast. I was making sure that if I was going to pass him, don’t give him enough time to get back by. I was able to time it right and side draft him to the line there and get off of him and pull away by a fender.”

Were you surprised Sauter gave you the low groove?

“Normally the top momentum is better and I had been running behind him lap after lap and I wasn’t able to get to his quarter panel – laying off of him in one there, I was able to get to his quarter and side draft him and then it was just a race to the line.”

Did you think this team would be here with four victories a few months ago when sponsorship was in question?

“Certainly not, that’s just a testament to Shige Hattori (team owner) and all these guys on this team. We work hard, we never give up. Can’t thank Hino and Toyota Industrial and Aisin Group for being on board this week – that’s another piece to the puzzle, we have great partners. The more success we have on track, the more success off the track. We still have a few races that we need to get filled, but hopefully this was a step in the right direction.”

Where do you see your team going into the Playoffs?

“A lot better now. We had a rough little patch there where we still had really fast Tundras and everyone was working hard, but we just didn’t have things go our way and we didn’t execute the races like we needed to. It’s good to have one work out. I wouldn’t say we had the most speed today, but we had a really good handling truck and that was what was key. We’ve had good trucks all year long and it’s just an honor to go drive them. We get a lot of momentum going into the Playoffs now and have some more Playoff points today. That’s a positive feeling.”

Is it important to beat Johnny Sauter like that knowing you will battle him in the Playoffs?

“Certainly, I already see that unless something weird happens, he’s (Sauter) going to be one of the final four at Homestead and he’s the only other guy to win four races this year and it’s good to be able to join him on that level and get some points back on him. We’re tough competitors and we don’t like losing to each other. It’s good to go out on top.”

Is there something special that you’re able to win these races on the final lap?

“I’m a better hunter than hunted I guess. It seems to be if the money’s on the line, I can grab that extra gear and get aggressive. You don’t need to lead all of them.”

Do you think you could have beaten Sauter on the outside groove?

“I had momentum so I don’t know, that’s a good question. It probably would have been easier for him (Sauter) to slide up and block if he was on the bottom and then slid up to the outside. I don’t know, we were really good center to entry of three and I was able to hold it wide open and get a good run down in there and then once I got to his quarter panel, that was kind of the nail in the coffin, but it’s still a drag race back and I was trying not to get too far ahead of him to where he could come back and side draft me back. It was close, it was good racing and just glad we were able to come out on top.”

Do you feel you can go to Bristol and win and are you the championship team to beat?

“As far as Bristol goes, yes certainly – me and Scott (Zipadelli, crew chief) ran second there two years ago at Red Horse Racing and we have fast trucks every week. Our short track program at Iowa and Gateway was really strong and that puts some more confidence in me, but Bristol is always a little bit of a survival race and it seems like at the end things start to go haywire and if we can survive and stay up front and have decent speed, I think we’ll be having a good shot at victory lane again. As far as a championship team goes, I’ve felt all year long that we’re a potential champion team. We just need to cross all our ‘T’s’ and dot all our ‘I’s’ and the biggest thing is execution. We’ve had the speed all year and we’ve worked well together all year and we’ve made out trucks better throughout the race in minimal, minimal time so the biggest thing is just going to be executing on the Playoffs and when we get to Homestead, go have a perfect day.”

What does it mean to be where you are currently with this team focused on a championship run?

“It’s great. Running for a championship is obviously mentally more difficult than running one-off races here and there. When I ran here two years ago and won, I didn’t even know if I would be in the car the next week. It was just aggressive, lay it all on the line and now you have the whole points equation coming into it and obviously with the new style points it’s not as big of a deal as long as you have wins in the bank. It’s great to have this opportunity that Shige Hattori has given me, it’s fun when we can be aggressive and we have fast trucks. I don’t feel like we’re ever on defense in a race, we’re always on the attack. That makes my job a lot easier and more fun and it’s just fun working with all these guys here.”

Has your phone been ringing with other potential offers for 2019?

“It has not, but this seems like a good weekend to hang around and try. This seems like a good place to win after everything that’s come out. No, nothing yet.”

SCOTT ZIPADELLI, crew chief, No. 16 Hino Toyota Tundra, Hattori Racing Enterprises

Did you make any significant changes to the car before the race based on your qualifying position?

“No, we didn’t. It’s pretty much a product of the two engines that the Camping World Truck Series allows us to race – the NT1 and the OEM engine. It’s been something that’s kind of gone on all year with our team is our qualifying hasn’t been as good as it was last year, as you could see – we sat on a few poles last year and didn’t win any races and we haven’t sat on any poles and we’ve won four races. We knew coming here that qualifying would be an issue, but we worked on our game plan and stuck to it and this engine has a lot of advantages to it and it prevailed today.”

How has moral changed on the team with Brett Moffitt as the driver?

“The moral on the team has always been good. There’s three of us that have worked together before and it’s just like putting an old pair of shoes on, it works – you still like the shoes, they still feel good and we still enjoy what we do. We’re all very, very serious and we don’t take anything for granted. Right now, how could the moral be bad, right? Pretty much how I approach it and the boys have kind of followed suit, there’s a lot of things in this world that can really mess you up so to race cars for a living is a pretty huge privilege and winning is a huge privilege and it’s a major bonus to work with people you really like, to be successful and to win is just a huge gift actually. Very thankful.”

Is there any race in the Playoffs where the OEM engine could hurt the team?

“I would say Talladega is huge. As you can see if you look back at the speeds in Daytona, we were at a major deficit. NASCAR made some changes to the plate that the NT1 engine is going to run, which they think they’re going to be even. I don’t think it’s going to be even, but we can’t cry about it. It is what it is, but Talladega is kind of a crap shoot in itself so I don’t expect to have blistering speed in qualifying with single truck. We’ll do what we always do, we’ll stick to the plan and get our truck driving as best we can and like Brett (Moffitt) says, just execute.”

How big of a challenge is it to prepare the truck for Bristol after racing at Michigan?

“That’s probably the easiest challenge that we have really. It’s not a problem for us, we’re well prepared for Bristol. The truck has been put together, we started setting it up before we left on Thursday and looking forward to getting back to the shop and finishing that truck. That’s easy, we know what we have to do. The biggest thing is reviewing the races and having a good game plan and watch the race unfold with the PJ1 down on the surface, that’s probably the biggest obstacle of Bristol.”

NOAH GRAGSON, No. 18 Safelite Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports

Finishing Position: 4th

TODD GILLILAND, No. 4 Mobil1 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports

Finishing Position: 5th

How was your Tundra in today’s race?

“We had a really fast Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra today and we just needed something, a little bit more to compete with those guys – (Johnny) Sauter and (Brett) Moffitt this weekend. We’re getting there every week for sure, but it kind of hurts to be that close. I felt like we were one adjustment away and in these races, you get like one-and-a-half chances at it. That’s just something I’m not used to and I need to get a little better.”

Are you concerned with one race left to make it into the Playoffs this season?

“I don’t know, I think just as the race ran we got a little tighter and tighter. Nonetheless, they brought me a really fast Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra for today’s race and I learned a lot out there. It’s a lot different, but just another oval. We just need to keep learning every week and I feel like we’re just one part away every race and that’s a good feeling and also a bad feeling. You mention one race left and the KBM stuff has been really good there at Bristol in the past so we’ll see what we can do.”

SPENCER DAVIS, No. 51 JBL Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports

Finishing Position: 22nd

How disappointing was this finish to your race?

“Definitely not the weekend that we wanted right here. Blew a right-rear tire in qualifying and actually had a good race truck to start off and unfortunately something happened to get the truck loose and we couldn’t diagnose the problem. Just trying to salvage the day here and get a top-10 finish and a right-rear tire blew again. Unfortunate way to end my Truck Series season right here, but just thankful for the opportunity to do it again next year.”

MATT MILLS, No. 54 J.F. Electric/Crosley Brands Toyota Tundra, DGR Crosley

Finishing Position: 31st

How disappointing it is to have your day that started with a strong qualifying effort end with an accident?

“After qualifying, it was going to be a highlight of the day – everybody kept talking to me and telling me what a great story it was. My guys at DGR, I can’t thank them enough for this opportunity that they give me. In qualifying, they showed what kind of a Tundra they brought – a fast one! I was kind of getting used to being in traffic and that’s part of the experience problem, I don’t have a ton of experience being up with those guys and it’s kind of why we made the switch to do this because you can’t really do it in the back of the pack. Just a tough deal, I really wanted to do well today. It was going so well and like I said, these guys are unbelievable to work with and I had fun all weekend. Hate that I got pretty loose right there in traffic. The truck was handling fine, but in traffic these trucks are crazy.”

What happened in the accident?

“I think (Johnny) Sauter was on my inside and a couple of them were on my inside and I don’t know if anybody was creeping up there. We were all in that pack right there and the air was going 40 different ways. It gets you off sometimes, especially if you’re not really for it. I’ll learn from it and I don’t want to say that I won’t do it again, but we’ll just move on and I’ll keep watching the replay and be mad at myself for doing it, but make sure not to do it again.”

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