The two favorites coming into the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series playoffs seemed to be Brett Moffitt and Ross Chastain. Moffitt had the points lead following the regular season. Chastain had the most wins.
The two started on the front row at Bristol on Saturday night, and after a pit road penalty forced Chastain to the back during the final stage, Moffitt was able to take control and earn the first-place finish on Thursday night.
Brett Moffitt wins Truck Series Playoff Opener
It was a back-and-forth race between the pair of drivers from the start, however, as they took turns on restarts from the front row.
Moffitt jumped out to the lead from the inside on the first start, then Chastain from the outside lane on the second, and so on.
The only takeaway to be made was that the outside only worked off of the restart, but that didn’t mean Moffitt wouldn’t keep trying.
Through the night, he would stick his nose up to the outside when he had some room and try to get some grip.
Eventually, the Iowan used a pick from Johnny Sauter on the inside line to make a last-lap pass on Chastain and win the second stage of the race.
Sauter was fighting to not fall a lap down after being involved in a wreck with John Hunter Nemechek. He stayed on the lead lap following the stage.
That’s where things fell apart for Chastain, though. One of his crew members was reaching over the wall to try and catch a tire, but put his hand on the ground in the process.
Chastain was called for the penalty and was relegated to the 19th position at the start of the third stage.
It didn’t work in his favor since there was a plethora of cautions in the final period of the race, but he didn’t make a lot of fans on his way through the pack.
Chastain was approached after the race by multiple crew chiefs concerning his ‘aggressive driving.’
“They’re all washed up race car drivers,” Chastain said. “Let your drivers come handle it. Line them up.”
Moffitt restarted from the outside on the final restart with three laps to go with 17-year old Chandler Smith to the outside.
He was able to clear the No. 51 and earn his series-leading third victory of the season.
“It was tough,” Moffitt said. “Our Silverado was super strong on long runs but it was really tough to fire off.”
He made it work, though.
With the win, Moffitt automatically advances to the second round of the truck series playoffs – the final round before the championship race at Homestead. He said that now he’s gotten that one, the pressure is off.
“Theres no more important win for me right now then getting that one,” Moffitt said. “We’re playing with house money now. We still want to go out and get playoff points. Now the pressures off. Everyone performs better with the pressure off, we know that.”
Moffitt earned six extra playoff points to go with the 22 that he brought into the playoffs with him, bringing his total up to 28. The next closest driver is Grant Enfinger with 19.
Tyler Ankrum became the biggest loser for the race but managed to keep things close in the standings. He lost power in his truck late in the race and finished six laps down. He’s within striking distance only being 13 points out, but it’s not ideal for his team.
The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series returns to the track on Sunday, August 25 at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. The race is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.
|NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoff Grid|
|1||x – Brett Moffitt||2081||x|
x – Clinched into the next round after winning a first round race