Brett Moffitt entered Saturday’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Talladega looking to help push Front Row Motorsports teammate Zane Smith to the victory, or at the very least to a solid finish.
So, when an early-race mechanical issue sent the defending NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion to the garage, there was no longer any reason to hold back for the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular.
Getting his Fr8Auctions.com Ford F-150 to the front of the pack, Moffitt spent the majority of the final stage just biding his time, leading 22 of the final 36 laps around the 2.66-mile superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama.
It was that ability to maintain track position that allowed the 2018 NASCAR Truck Series champion to make his winning move, driving outside of race-leader Christian Eckes, then quickly back to the inside, in order to get clear of the No. 19 NAPA Chevrolet Silverado.
Making his move at the exit of turn two, Moffitt was able to make multiple solid blocks in the final half-lap, to cross the start-finish line 0.089 seconds ahead of runner-up finisher Ben Rhodes in the No. 99 Campers Inn RV Ford F-150.
For Moffitt, his 13th victory in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series came after being away from the series for just over a year, last racing at Kansas Speedway in the No. 22 for AM Racing, the team in which he competes in the Xfinity Series.
“It was a hell of a way to come back. We struggled for track position early and just tried to race smart,” said Moffitt post-race. “This Ford F-150 FR8 Auctions was super fast in the race. It drove really good. I could put it wherever I wanted and never felt like I was on edge. It was a great handling race track, great sponsors, great race team in Front Row and we executed when it counted.”
The victory Saturday at Talladega marked the first NASCAR National Series victory in three-plus years for Mofitt, dating back to his 2020 victory at Kansas Speedway. Additionally, it marks the first-ever superspeedway win for Moffitt.
“I really had the mentality coming into today because it had been so long since I’d run a truck at a superspeedway, that I just wanted to try and learn in every situation,” added Moffitt. “Normally, I get really nervous or worked up, but I just took it as a learning experience. It’s been a while since I had to control a race like that, so just to be able to do that and execute and believe in my skills and believe in myself and believe in this race team, it was huge.”
The victory is the eighth in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for Front Row Motorsports, a team that continues to look for a replacement for Zane Smith, who departs for the NASCAR Cup Series at the end of the year.
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series post-season contender Ben Rhodes finished in second place, with Dean Thompson finishing in third in the No. 5 Toyota for TRICON Garage, matching a career-best effort.
In his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start of the year, Chandler Smith finished in fourth place for Rackley WAR, replacing Matt DiBenedetto – who held the ride on a full-time basis throughout the year. Corey Heim, the only driver to be officially locked into the championship race at Phoenix Raceway, brought home a top-five finish at the 2.66-mile superspeedway.
Daniel Dye finished a career-high sixth place, while Nick Sanchez, Hailie Deegan, Parker Kligerman, and Lawless Alan rounded out the top-10. The 10th-place run by Alan, was the best finish of his NASCAR Truck Series career.
Carson Hocevar and Grant Enfinger, both drivers that entered Talladega above the cutline, managed to have respectable runs in 11th and 13th, despite both drivers being involved in at least one accident.
Christian Eckes was able to keep his No. 19 Chevrolet clean throughout the entire event but was shuffled to the rear of the pack on the final lap of the race, finishing in 19th, as the final car on the lead lap.
Ty Majeski sustained damage as a result of multiple incidents throughout the race, including a 15-truck pileup with two laps remaining, which collected the likes of Matt Crafton, Jack Wood, Tanner Gray, and others.
That accident ended up being the catalyst for a post-race altercation between Matt Crafton and Nick Sanchez, in which the driver of the No. 2 Chevrolet Silverado says that Crafton tapped him on the shoulder, only to give him a “cheap shot” when he turned around.
Also involved in that incident was Greg Van Alst, who took a massive shot to the outside wall in his No. 20 CB Fabricating Chevrolet Silverado. Van Alst, driving for Young’s Motorsports, would be transferred to a local hospital for further evaluation.
Earlier in the race, Stewart Friesen also had a substantial impact to the outside wall, in which the 40-year-old driver would climb from his truck and get down on the ground, clearly showing signs of being in pain. The Halmar Friesen Racing driver was also transported to the hospital for further evaluation.