The Cinderella story came true and the cream rose to the top as Brett Moffitt won the race and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship after a career-high six wins in the series. It’s Moffitt’s first championship of any kind.
“Well I say, Zippy, and everybody at HRE gave me a really fast tundra and I think we made the bottom work, a helluva lot better than anybody,” the 2018 Truck Series Champion said to MRN Radio. “So that gave me an opportunity to get down there, but doing that is harsh on the tires. I knew we were faster than them, it was just about getting them and getting momentum off (Turn) 2, dive bomb into (Turn) 3.”
“The first attempt I did at it, I just wasn’t aggressive enough and got the tires hot, and had to go back up to the top to cool them down a few laps and make another charge, but I can’t just speak enough for everyone in this race team and how hard they worked. Our pit crew tonight did an amazing job and man those were a long last 20 laps.”
Stages of 30/30/74 laps made up the 134 lap race.
Grant Enfinger and Stewart Friesen started on the front row. Playoff drivers Noah Gragson started third, Justin Haley fourth, Moffitt fifth and Johnny Sauter sixth.
The first stage went 30 laps caution free and Enfinger led them all to take Stage 1. Gragson was second, Moffitt was third, Haley was sixth, and Sauter was 13th.
Stage 2 began on lap 37 and went to lap 60, and once again was caution free, but this time with a little more drama. Gragson took the lead on the restart, but Moffitt passed him just a few laps later to win Stage 2. Gragson was second, Haley eighth, and Sauter 10th. The playoff contenders were reporting their trucks were either tight or loose.
The final stage resumed with 67 laps to go and Moffitt and Gragson were on the front row.
Gragson led in the beginning but had to fight a hard-charging Moffitt who kept right with him for the lead. There were a couple of close calls, but eventually, Moffitt took the lead with 35 to go, which put Gragson back in second.
Unfortunately, a tire issue caused Gragson to pit earlier than expected and caused him to lose a ton of ground, which ultimately cost him the championship. After the pit stops, Moffitt recycled as the leader and was unchallenged for the rest of the race, going on to win his first ever Truck Series championship.
The team came close to shutting down right before the Chicagoland race, and Moffitt emphasized how important it was to have sponsorship or else they wouldn’t be here.
“It just speaks to how badass our people are, no matter what’s going on whether it’s diverse or not, or troubles or not,” Moffitt told MRN Radio. “They keep working and preparing to go to the racetrack week in and week out, whether they know they’re going or not, and that just says a lot.
For Moffitt credits his success in the Truck Series to his prior experience in the Cup Series for making him a better driver.
“Well I kind of blame my Cup career for being so good in the Trucks early on,” the Hattori Racing driver told MRN Radio.” “When I was Cup racing, I really wasn’t developed and I had to learn really quick, and the hard way essentially. Coming to a racetrack in a Truck, everything is a little bit easier and calmer, you’re not fighting as many handling characteristics as the Cup cars and in the Cup Series, you’re racing the 40 best guys in the world. It helped my learning curve. It wasn’t the ideal way to do it, but these Trucks are a little bit easier for me to adapt to.”
There were two cautions for 12 laps during the race and 10 lead changes among seven drivers.
This was Moffitt’s sixth win of the season and the seventh of his career. He led three times for 59 laps including the final 29 laps to become the 2018 Truck Series Champion.
Noah Gragson 3rd
Justin Haley 8th
Johnny Sauter 12th