Brett Moffit was well on his way to winning Thursday night’s NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series race at the Kentucky Speedway. It would have been his second straight victory and third in the last four races on the season. Unfortunately though, he couldn’t stretch his Sunoco fuel three more miles.
Moffitt, ran out of gas with less than two laps-to-go in the Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 which allowed Tyler Ankrum to pounce. Ankrum, the 2018 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Champion, led the final two laps en route to his first career Truck Series victory in just his 12th career starts.
The DGR-Crosley driver led 40 of the 150 laps – in his No. 17 Toyota to give the manufacturer their eighth victory in 13 races this season.
“I can’t believe it. This is a dream come truck,” said Ankrum, who now is in a great position to make this year’s playoffs. “One of my biggest faults is I’ve always doubted myself. Tonight, I kind of felt all that wash away.”
Moffitt led 35 laps in a bid for his second straight win, but his quick fuel-only pit strategy for the final stage proved to be too quick. Moffitt’s GMS Racing No. 24 coasted to a seventh-place finish, last on the lead lap.
“All in all, we called a great race. We were just a lap short,” Moffitt said. “It’s tough. We had a good-sized lead there and a great handling truck.”
For the second straight year, Stewart Friesen finished second in Kentucky, 7.373 seconds behind at the checkered flag after an eventful day. His primary No. 52 Chevrolet was confiscated by NASCAR officials and he started last in the 32-truck field. It was his fourth straight top five finish and fifth in the last six races.
Harrison Burton rallied from a spin to take third place in his No. 18 Toyota for his fourth top five finish in the last five races while Ross Chastain and Dylan Lupton rounded out the top five.
Sheldon Creed led the first 35 laps, taking the top spot from pole winner Grant Enfinger at the start of a relatively tame Stage 1. The second stage erupted with four caution flags, three of those for multi-truck tangles.
The hardest of those was the first, triggered when Spencer Boyd’s No. 20 Chevrolet made contact with Natalie Decker’s No. 54 Toyota on Lap 41. That collision also collected Jordan Anderson’s No. 3 and later touched off an argument between Decker and Boyd in the garage.
Enfinger, figured into one of the most dramatic of those incidents on the 64th lap, dipping low in a contact for the lead with Xfinity Series regular Brandon Jones. Enfinger’s No. 98 Ford slid up the track, carrying both his truck and Jones’ No. 51 Toyota into the Turn 4 wall.
“I just screwed up,” Enfinger said. “I got separated enough that I thought I could clear him but I didn’t. You can’t run side by side here, that’s all on me trying to make something happen. It’s hard racing.”
Said Jones: “I would love to hear what he had to say about it. But, we got to talk for a minute. I asked him if there were hard feelings about that restart because I just didn’t make it happen, but he took responsibility. We’re good, moving on.”
Creed’s night took a downturn early in the final stage with a crunching hit of the outside retaining barrier. That caused a flat tire and another wall scrape, dropping him from contention.
With the win, Ankrum is playoff eligible, so he takes a spot from one of the bubble drivers. Also, with Chastain’s 12th top 10 finish of the season, the Florida native moves into the ever so pivotal top 20 of the points standings. He’s now playoff eligible too, so long as he remains in the top 20 of the points standings following next month’s race at the Michigan International Speedway. If so, we now know that Moffitt, Chastain, Ankrum, Austin Hill and Johnny Sauter are playoff bound. That leaves just three open spots for several drivers.
The series’ next race is the Gander RV 150, scheduled June 27 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM) at Pocono Raceway. Three races remain in the Gander Trucks’ regular season.