BRISTOL, Tenn – Brett Moffitt had the truck to beat in Thursday night’s NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway. He led not just the first 10 laps of the UNOH 200 but the final 27 as well, as the GMS Racing driver earned his 10th career Truck Series victory and first of in Thunder Valley. The victory in his No. 24 Chevrolet stamps his name into the second round of the playoffs too.
The defending series champion now has 12 top 10 finishes on the season including seven in the last eight races of the year. Also, this GMS Truck won this race last year with Johnny Sauter as they’ve now gone 2-for-2 the last two years in Bristol.
Moffitt, led 66 laps on the night as he passed Grant Enfinger on the Lap 173 restart and never looked back in cruising to the victory.
Chandler Smith finished an impressive runner-up in his No. 51 Toyota in just his third career Truck Series start. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver finished eighth back in June at the Iowa Speedway and followed that up with a fourth place run a week later in Gateway.
Ross Chastian made up for a pit road penalty following the second stage and would go from 20th to finish third in his No. 45 Chevrolet. It was Chastain’s 14th top 10 of the season and his fifth top seven in the last seven races of the year. The Watermelon Man led a race high 78 of 200 laps including earning the stage win in the first segment and narrowly lost the second stage to Moffitt.
Stewart Friesen brought his No. 52 Chevrolet home fourth for his seventh top eight finish in his last eight starts on the season including a second straight top four in Bristol.
Grant Enfinger had a great strategy to bring his No. 98 Ford home fifth for his third straight top 10 in as many tries in Bristol and his fourth consecutive top 10 finish on the season as well, two of which being top fives.
The race was a tough one on Thursday with 12 cautions flying overall. We saw some clashes on the night with Crafton and Enfinger getting into one another in Turn 3 on Lap 150. Both would rebound for top 10 results when it was all said and done.
Brett Moffitt and Ross Chastain battle for position in Thursday night’s UNOH 200 at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway
Moffitt Still Championship Favorite
The GMS Racing driver dominated on Thursday night and looks like he’s the favorite to repeat as a champion this season. He’s been so good heading into the playoffs and now he starts the postseason off with a much needed victory. He can race differently over the next two races as he knows he’s going to be in the Round of 6.
Chastain Says Fastest Truck Didn’t Win
Ross Chastain left the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway on Thursday night frustrated. The Watermelon Man ruffled a few feathers but still finished third in his No. 45 Chevrolet. Despite that, the Florida native was pretty heated when it was all said and done.
First off, he had a fast truck, so much so that he says the fastest truck didn’t win on Thursday. Chastain, led a race-high 78 of 200 laps including earning a stage win in the first stage and P2 in a last lap, last turn pass by Brett Moffitt by him to finish second in Stage 2.
Then, Chastain was hit with a pit road penalty on his lone pit stop of the race and went from a top five restart position to 20th. He’d only have less than 90 laps to get back to the front.
He did so by forcing his way up there which in turn caused several drivers to be mad a him. Chastain, didn’t care about that, he was mad at how the track was prepared and that there was only one groove to really race on.
It’s saying something when the driver who gained 17 spots in the end felt that he couldn’t pass.
He now has five top seven finishes in his last nine starts on the season and 14 top 10’s overall. He’ll head to CTMP +25 in the playoff standings.
Rough Nights For Sauter/Hill/Ankrum
It’s not surprising to see Johnny Sauter, Austin Hill and Tyler Ankrum as the bottom three in the points standings leaving Bristol. All three had rough nights.
Sauter, scored eight stage points but all came in a third place finish in the first stage. He took two tires at the end of the stage but was involved in an incident with John Hunter Nemechek on Lap 75. He’d get involved in a couple of other incidents on the night and some how rebounded to an 11th place result. This was the first finish outside of the top 10 for Sauter in Bristol since 2012. It’s also though his third straight race without scoring a top 10 on the season and eighth in his last 10 starts. He’s +3 in the standings.
For Hill, he came home 10th but never really was a factor. He was 10th and 11th respectively in each stage and finished where he honestly should have.
For Ankrum, he had a solid truck early but had a misfire late. That dropped him a lap down and the worst finish among the eight playoff drivers in 20th.
Sheldon Creed, Jordan Anderson and others crash in Turn 2 at the start of Thursday night’s UNOH 200 at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway
Not all races are going to be a doozy. This one, certainly wasn’t. We saw 12 cautions and even a bizarre red flag for Natalie Decker being spun by the tow truck driver. Mix that with only three race leaders and you get a ho-hum event for such a highly anticipated race.
Strategy Works For Enfinger
It was a good pit call by Grant Enfinger’s crew chief which saw him call his driver down pit road on Lap 61. See, Enfinger didn’t have a race contending truck early. He was the only playoff driver to not finish in the top 10 in the first stage. So, why not pit when the stage ended. That put him towards the end of the lead lap but he had fresh tires which propelled him to 10th by the end of the second stage.
The risk paid off though.
The nine trucks in front of him had yet to pit and by pitting when he did, Enfinger didn’t have to pit the rest of the way. So, he had track position by taking the lead on Lap 117 and would lead the next 57 circuits. While he had older tires than those up front, he only faded to fifth for his fourth consecutive top 10 finish on the season and third top 10 at Bristol in as many tries.
UNOH 200 Results
2 Creed R
30 Poole -1
17 Ankrum R -6
21 Mayer -7
10 Cobb -7
18 Burton R -8
02 Dippel OUT
54 Decker R OUT
68 Greenfield OUT
15 Lupton OUT
3 Anderson OUT
8 Nemechek OUT
44 Ruch OUT
34 Yeley OUT
97 Little OUT
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