Moffitt's big pass wins wild Trucks race at MIS
Brooklyn — The trucks might have stolen the racing show this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.
In a 200-mile barnburner, Brett Moffitt won the thrilling Careers for Veterans NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Saturday, a hard-fought contest full of passing and a few big wrecks.
Moffitt won for the first time in his career, in his sixth start.
He led one lap, the last one — the only lap he has ever led in his truck racing career.
Executing a dazzling pass on the penultimate lap, Moffitt blew by two leaders, Timothy Peters and William Byron, who were racing each other for the checkered flag.
“Hold it wide open, and go where they aren’t,” Moffitt said. “It’s all you can do.”
Byron entered the race leading for the championship. Peters was fourth.
Peters led the most laps, 42. Byron led eight, the fourth-most.
For the upstart Moffitt, who started the season without a regular ride and admitted “I was on my sofa and bike, a lot,” it was a brilliant three-wide move, especially on a track notorious for a narrow racing grove, since it was repaved in 2011.
The key was the speed Moffitt carried into the sequence.
“I knew it might be sketchy, because I knew Timothy might try to move up high, a little bit,” Moffitt said of Peters who was just beneath him on the track during the pass. “But we had such a run.
“We were rolling five, 10 mph faster than them into Turn 1.
“When I saw the 9 (Byron) go too wide of the 17 (Peters), I knew it would slow them down and punch a big hole in the air,” he said. “I figured as long as I could get to the outside, getting into 1, I could clear them. I just didn’t know if it would hold all of the way down the backstretch.
“But it did.”
Noting his comfortable position in the standings, Peters was content. And, after all, he noted, Moffitt was his teammate for Red Horse Racing Toyota.
“The good Lord had a plan today,” Peters said. “And it was for us to finish second.”
“Brett did a good job of splitting us three wide,” Byron said, on the FS2 broadcast after the race.
Byron, who was just tapped by Hendrick Motorsports to race in the 2017 Xfinity series, retained his series lead by 37 points.
Some veteran observers said it was the most exciting truck race of the NASCAR season. There were 14 lead changes, involving seven drivers.
There were seven caution flags, including one for a violent incident on lap 76 when Christopher Bell briefly took the lead, only to bobble control of his truck at the bottom of the track and move up into Spencer Gallagher, who t-boned Bell’s truck at about 180 or 190 mph as both drivers competed flat out.
Ignoring safety crews who directed him to an ambulance, Gallagher ran down the track to the ambulance Bell entered.
“It shook me,” Gallagher said, during the broadcast on FS2. “I wanted to make sure he was alive. I never hit another guy that hard.”
Some of the crashes involved hits so solid that drivers emerged from the infield care unit thanking NASCAR for high safety standards for the vehicles.
The start of the race was delayed for 2 1/2 hours when lightning and then rainstorms moved through the Irish Hills.
What surprised many watching was how stable the trucks were racing two, three and four wide at MIS, and how much traction they retained.
NASCAR and MIS officials worked for 10 days beginning August 15 with a tractor and heavy trailer which rolls large tires repeatedly over the track to wear it in and grind rubber into the surface for better gripping.
It is intended, to increase handling and, potentially, widen the groove.
In terms of the groove, despite heavy rains before the truck race that might have washed away some of the rubber, the NASCAR “tire dragon” might have worked.
If the racing groove is wider for the Sprint Cup race Sunday, the Pure Michigan 400 may rival the truck race for excitement.