Start first and finish first was the name of the game for the GMS Racing driver Brett Moffitt as he took home the win Thursday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. It was Moffitt’s third win of the season and locks him into the Round of 6 as the Playoffs continue.
“This is unbelievable,” Moffitt excitedly told MRN Radio. “I’ve had runs in the past where I’m decent but I never felt confident at this track. There’s so much that can happen, but man, getting the first win here and having Junior Johnson on the hood of this truck and to go to victory lane at Bristol, Tennessee up here in the mountains, you know where Moonshine is started.”
“It’s so cool to have him on this truck and honor him at this place, but to win in this round and get locked in is truly unbelievable and the best win of the season thus far. So it’s all good.”
Moffitt and another playoff championship contender, Ross Chastain, started on the front row.
Stage 1: Lap 1 – Lap 57
Stage 1 only saw one incident that took place on Lap 4 for Sheldon Creed, Jordan Anderson and Jesse Little for an accident in Turn 2. Other than that, Niece Motorsports driver Ross Chastain went on to win the first stage with a dominant truck.
Moffitt, Johnny Sauter, Ben Rhodes, Chandler Smith, Matt Crafton, Stewart Friesen, Tyler Ankrum, John Hunter Nemechek and Austin Hill rounded out the top-10 stage finishers for Stage 1. Sauter, Rhodes, Harrison Burton, Grant Enfinger and Hill were among the drivers to pit under the stage break.
Stage 2: Lap 66 – Lap 112
Stage 2 saw a lot more action. On Lap 68, a caution came out for the returning Angela Ruch who went spinning on the front stretch. Then, on Lap 77, Nemechek wrecked on the front stretch after Sauter got loose off of Turn 4. During the incident, Nemechek also collected Sauter as he turned down on the track with Sauter receiving right front fender damage.
These were the only incidents that happened in Stage 2 but this time Moffitt took the stage win after Chastain nearly dominated once again. However, during the stage break, the Florida native was penalized for a safety violation and was sent to the rear of the field.
Chastain, Smith, Crafton, Friesen, Ankrum, Rhodes, Raphael Lessard, Enfinger and Sam Mayer completed the top-10 stage finishers for Stage 2.
Stage 3: Lap 121- Lap 200
The third and final stage saw the most action. On Lap 131 Tyler Dippel spun in Turn 2 after contact with Brennan Poole. Dylan Lupton and Timmy Hill were also involved. On Lap 137 Natalie Decker brought out the caution again. During the caution, Ankrum reported his engine was skipping intermittently. Burton also had a broken shock mount to his No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports truck.
The caution came out once again with 48 to go for Friesen and Crafton. Both had made contact in one of the turns after Crafton got a little bit sideways and then got into Friesen and sent Friesen into the wall. On Lap 168, Jennifer Jo Cobb went around after Rhodes made slight contact with her. After the incident, the replays showed Rhodes was trying to lift and not make contact but eventually did.
During the last 27 laps, it seemed the race would take forever with a stop and go for caution. Lessard went spinning around in Turn 1 with 24 to go after contact with Chastain. Meanwhile, Sauter made contact with the inside wall. With 17 to go, Gus Dean, Decker and Dippel were involved and had damage to their trucks.
Under the caution, Decker was trying to get the push truck to back off as she had her truck fired but the push truck did not realize it and eventually sent Decker around on the surface. The race was red-flagged with 14 to go due to oil on the track and to allow fans to see a run to the finish.
The final caution of the night took place with eight to go, as rookie Mayer hit the wall. This would set up a three-lap dash for an exciting finish. Moffitt, the 2018 Truck Series champion, was able to fend off rookie Smith in a thrilling battle to the checkered flag.
“We got the next two races where we can go race aggressive and try to get more points for the following round, but this is a lot of pressure off our race team,” Moffitt added to MRN Radio.
With the win, Moffitt moves onto the Round of 6 and will not have to worry about Canada or Las Vegas.
There were 12 cautions for 73 laps with nine lead changes among three drivers.
Playoff Points Standings after Bristol:
- Brett Moffitt (W, Advanced to Round of 6)
- Ross Chastain, -16
- Stewart Friesen, -24
- Matt Crafton, -28
- Grant Enfinger, -28
- Johnny Sauter, -38
- Austin Hill, -41
- Tyler Ankrum, -51
- Brett Moffitt, led 65 laps
- Chandler Smith
- Ross Chastain, led 78 laps
- Stewart Friesen
- Grant Enfinger, led 57 laps
- Sheldon Creed
- Matt Crafton
- Ben Rhodes
- Todd Gilliland
- Austin Hill
- Johnny Sauter
- Raphael Lessard
- Parker Kligerman
- Ryan Sieg
- Austin Wayne Self
- Landon Huffman
- Timmy Hill
- Gus Dean
- Brennan Poole, One lap down
- Tyler Ankrum, Seven laps down
- Sam Mayer, OUT, Crash
- Jennifer Jo Cobb, Seven laps down
- Harrison Burton, Eight laps down
- Tyler Dippel, OUT, Crash
- Natalie Decker, OUT, Crash
- Clay Greenfield, OUT, Steering
- Dylan Lupton, OUT, Dvp
- Jordan Anderson, OUT, Engine
- John Hunter Nemechek, OUT, Crash
- Angela Ruch, OUT, Crash
- J.J. Yeley, OUT, Transmission
- Jesse Little, OUT, Crash
Up Next: The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series heads north of the border where they will continue the Round of 8 at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sunday, August 25.