LINCOLN, Ala. – Talladega Superspeedway has its own set of tendencies that continue from race to race. All eight races ran with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series saw non-Playoff drivers win. Overtime finishes are a guarantee for the last 15 years.
But what some may have not seen coming was a former champion returning to the series to score his first career superspeedway victory.
Brett Moffitt, 2018 series champion, played mind-games with the field in the closing laps en route to his 13th career first-place finish.
“It’s pretty awesome,’’ said the 31-year old Moffitt, the 2018 series champion. “I’ve notably struggled on the superspeedways in the past and dreaded coming to them. But this was an all pressure-off situation that Front Row gave me to go out there and try to help a teammate. Obviously, that didn’t work out for that group. But to come here and have a shot at a win and to do it, is just amazing.
“Reminds me of the good ole days and I want to get back to doing this on a regular basis so we’ll see what happens.’’
While he doesn’t have a ride locked in yet for 2024, he laughed when Justin Schuoler from Kickin’ the Tires asked him if this win makes the contract negotiations easier or if one is waiting for him back at the hauler.
“There’s a lot of moving pieces looking into 2024,” Moffitt shared during post-race media availability. “I have more leverage now from winning a race. Hopefully this can speed things up so we can figure out what we’re doing next year.”
In Turns 3 and 4, Christian Eckes moved up track to block Moffitt charging from the outside lane, but Moffitt swiftly dove his No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford to the middle of the track and edged ahead of the pack. He continued to hold off the field making last ditch efforts to get around him, just under a tenth of a second over Ben Rhodes.
Rhodes never led a lap, but is almost more happy he survived the chaos of Talladega than victory itself.
“This style of racing, you never know what to expect,’’ said Rhodes, driver of the No. 99 ThorSport Ford. “Just all in all, really happy we were able to finish second. We needed this for a points day. I think last year we were seven points out coming to homestead and we made it to the Championship Four. We’re eight out now so we did what we needed to do just one spot short. It would have been a real luxury to lock ourselves in today.”
Dean Thompson would finish third after a solid weekend with his No. 5 team. Rackley WAR Racing’s driver replacement Chandler Smith earned no stage points but rallied late to a fourth place finish. Corey Heim finished fifth, but is already locked into the Championship 4 after his win at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Nick Sanchez scored valuable stage points by winning Stage 1 and finishing second in Stage 2. While he dropped to seventh overall when the checkered flag flew, he now sits three points above the cutoff heading into the last race of the Round of 8, held at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Other Playoff drivers suffered issues, including defending champion Zane Smith, who suffered mechanical problems throughout the day. His team also had a frightening incident on pit road when he lost control of his No. 38 Ford F-150, spinning out and colliding with one of his tire carriers, Charles Plank.
“I feel terrible about that, so that wasn’t a great start,” Smith said of the pit road incident with his crew member. “And then after that rolled off pit road down the backstretch, my clutch started slipping and it got worse and worse and worse. So fighting that and changing the clutch to get back out there.
“Just such a bummer. It’s a tough situation here.”
The GMS Racing driver, Grant Enfinger, was also among those Playoff competitors caught up in multiple accidents on the afternoon; yet, he somehow salvaged a 13th place result. Niece Motorsport’s Carson Hocevar was 11th. ThorSport’s Ty Majeski was 21st.
Enfinger (-3) is ranked fifth, followed by Rhodes (-5), Majeski (-19) and Smith (-36).
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Playoffs continue Oct. 21 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the top four drivers in the standings after the race set to decide the Championship in the Nov. 3 season finale at Phoenix Raceway.