NASCAR Truck Series Title Goes to Brett Moffitt

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Lots of activity today from Homestead-Miami Speedway. All 3 of NASCAR’s premier series hit the track for practice. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series started things off with early practice session this morning. They qualified this afternoon and will race tonight.

Grant Enfinger(98) won the pole with a speed of 169.348 mph. Stewart Friesen(52) starts on the front row beside Enfinger.

Lasco Press Photo
Lasco Press Photo

The Championship 4 contenders Noah Gragson(18), Justin Haley(24), Brett Moffitt(16), and Johnny Sauter(21) qualified 3rd through 6th respectively.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series practiced twice. They qualify shortly after Noon tomorrow and race at 3:30 Saturday afternoon.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying

All eyes were on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers as they practiced this afternoon. They were on track just prior to the Truck Series qualifying. A rare night-time qualifying session sets the field for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400. With 2 rounds of eliminations and a final round run for the pole.

Round 1

Thirty-eight of the 39 cars entered took qualifying laps. Ross Chastain(15-C) failed to make it to the track. Kyle Busch(18-C) posted the fastest speed at 174.644 mph. Fellow Championship 4 contenders Joey Logano(22-C) and Martin Truex Jr.(78-C) ran 2nd and 3rd fastest. The missing piece? Kevin Harvick(4-C) could only manage the 16th fastest time. Almost 2 seconds slower than Kyle Busch.

Kyle Busch / Lasco Press Photo
Joey Logano / Lasco Press Photo
Martin Truex Jr. / Lasco Press Photo

Clint Bowyer(14-C) 171.827 mph, good enough for the 26th fastest speed. But, not good enough to make it out of Round 1.

Clint Bowyer / Lasco Press Photo

Round 2

Michigan’s own Erik Jones(20-C) put up the fastest lap of Round 2 at 174.036 mph. Followed again by the Playoff trio of Truex, Kyle Busch, and Logano. Harvick found some more speed and ran 8th fastest at 173.177 mph. Kyle Larson(42-C), one of the pre-race favorites, just squeaked into the Pole Qualifying round placing 12th. The first driver out? Alex Bowman(88-C) who ran .006 slower than Larson’s time.

Erik Jones / Lasco Press Photo

Chase Elliott(9-C), Ryan Blaney(12-C), and Jimmie Johnson(48-C) were the notables not advancing to the final round.

Chase Elliott / Lasco Press Photo

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Pole Qualifying

Denny Hamlin(11-C) put together a perfect lap to win the Pole with a speed of 173.863 mph. His teammate Kyle Busch will sit beside him on the front row just .043 seconds slower. Truex starts 3rd, Logano 5th, and Harvick was the slowest of the Playoff contenders. He will start 12th.

Denny Hamlin / Lasco Press Photo

Brad Keselowski(22-C) starts 4th, Kurt Busch(41-C) 6th, and Jones 7th.

Brad Keselowski / Lasco Press Photo
Kurt Busch / Lasco Press Photo

The pole winner has the first choice of the pit stall they will use in the race. The last space on pit road is the premier spot for ease of exit and the ability to apply full power to the timing line. In a decision that he owned up to personally, team owner Joe Gibbs instructed Hamlin to leave that space open for Kyle Busch to choose with his 2nd place selection. Team orders in NASCAR, interesting and controversial.

 

Starting Grid for the 2018 Ford EcoBoost 400

Position Car Driver Time Speed
1 11 Denny Hamlin 31.059 173.863
2 18 Kyle Busch 31.102 173.622
3 78 Martin Truex Jr. 31.117 173.539
4 2 Brad Keselowski 31.136 173.433
5 22 Joey Logano 31.148 173.366
6 41 Kurt Busch 31.298 172.535
7 20 Erik Jones 31.303 172.507
8 31 Ryan Newman 31.317 172.430
9 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 31.322 172.403
10 10 Aric Almirola 31.331 172.353
11 42 Kyle Larson 31.390 172.029
12 4 Kevin Harvick 31.406 171.942
13 88 Alex Bowman 31.299 172.529
14 9 Chase Elliott 31.301 172.518
15 12 Ryan Blaney 31.345 172.276
16 3 Austin Dillon 31.351 172.243
17 6 Matt Kenseth 31.359 172.199
18 19 Daniel Suarez 31.395 172.002
19 48 Jimmie Johnson 31.404 171.953
20 47 AJ Allmendinger 31.476 171.559
21 1 Jamie McMurray 31.482 171.527
22 21 Paul Menard 31.511 171.369
23 43 Bubba Wallace 31.574 171.027
24 34 Michael McDowell 31.633 170.708
25 38 David Ragan 31.393 172.013
26 14 Clint Bowyer 31.427 171.827
27 37 Chris Buescher 31.536 171.233
28 24 William Byron 31.616 170.800
29 32 Matt DiBenedetto 31.672 170.498
30 95 Regan Smith 31.818 169.715
31 13 Ty Dillon 31.830 169.651
32 0 Landon Cassill 31.962 168.951
33 23 JJ Yeley 32.297 167.198
34 72 Corey LaJoie 32.335 167.002
35 99 Kyle Weatherman 32.355 166.898
36 51 BJ McLeod 32.842 164.424
37 97 Tanner Berryhill 33.138 162.955
38 66 Timmy Hill 33.414 161.609
39 15 Ross Chastain 0 0

Championship 4 Contenders

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series EcoBoost 200

Stage 1

Grant Enfinger(98) drove off into the lead from the pole position. Stewart Friesen(52) quickly fell behind 3 of the Championship contenders. Noah Gragson(18), Brett Moffitt(16), and Justin Haley(24) held down the 2nd through 4th positions.

Enfinger built a 2-second lead quickly. Before Moffitt began cutting into Enfinger’s advantage. The pole winner held on to win Stage 1 leading all 30 laps in the opening segment. Gragson finished 2nd, Moffitt 3rd, Haley 6th, and Sauter 13th.

Stage 2

Matt Crafton(88) took the lead out of the pits from the Stage ending caution. He spun the tires on the drop of the green flag and Gragson sprinted into turn 1 with the lead. Two laps later Crafton moved back into the top spot. That lead only lasted 1 lap as Moffitt took his turn at the front of the pack. Gragson slipped into 2nd, with Enfinger 3rd, followed by Crafton 4th, and Haley in 5th.

Moffitt won Stage 3 over Gragson by a little over one second. Stage-ending pit stops will dictate who starts the 74 laps of the Final Stage from the front row. Both crews perform flawlessly and the running order stays the same as they exit pit road. Moffitt and Gragson, 2 of the title contenders line up side-by-side on the front row for the sprint to the finish.

Racing For The Title

Gragson powered into the lead on the restart, swapping spots with Moffitt. Should the race continue accident caution free the final pit stop will be made under green.

Moffitt repeatedly drove to the bumper of Gragson. Getting side-by-side in the corners on several laps. Moffitt, the 26-year-old driver kept the pressure on the 20-year-old youngster Gragson. Even edging ahead down the backstretch on lap 84. But, Gragson had the answer to every challenge maintaining the lead.

Like two prize fighters standing in the middle of the ring throwing knockout punches. Gragson and Moffit continue to trade blows. Finally, Moffitt took the lead on Lap 99.

Green Flag Pit Stops

Gragson pitted on Lap 101, Moffitt followed suit on Lap 102. As pit stops cycled through Moffitt returned to the lead on Lap 106. Gragson trailed by 3.5 seconds in 3rd place. The pole sitter, Enfinger, sat between the two Championship contenders. Haley ran 1/2 a lap back in 8th. Sauter was 3/4’s of a lap down, mired in 13th place.

The Finish

With 15 laps to go, Moffitt’s lead sat at 4 seconds. Without a caution, the Hattori Racing Enterprises driver will cruise to his 1st NASCAR Truck Championship. For the second year in a row, the Championship race for the Truck Series went caution free. Moffit’s win was a huge boost for the single-car team that struggled with finances throughout the season.

Shigeaki Hattori is the 15th different owner Champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The first from Japan. The team posted 6 series wins this year, 2 in the playoffs. The team fought sponsorship issues all year, even considering not making some starts. A Championship will hopefully cure those ills.

 

The Burnout / Lasco Press Photo
Victory Lane / Lasco Press Photo
The Champion / Lasco Press Photo