By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
Friday’s KDI Office Technology 200 at Dover International Speedway looked to be Brett Moffitt day of reckoning.
More than half a season into 2020 without a victory, Moffitt started from pole for the 200-lap Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race on the one-mile track. And leading a race-high 51 laps on the afternoon, maybe it was finally time to bring home a trophy.
However, throughout various combats for the top spot with GMS Racing teammate Zane Smith, Moffitt’s No. 23 was unable to keep steady with Smith’s No. 21, losing the lead with 71 laps to go. And on the final restart with three to go, Moffitt fell to finish third.
“I’m proud of the effort to get the truck better as the race went on,” Moffitt said. “I’m definitely frustrated because we seemed to only have speed to be able to make our way into the top three and I did a better job than the [Nos.] 18 and 21 in lapped traffic, got the lead. We just don’t have the speed in our trucks.”
The result was his fifth top-five finish of the year and it was the seventh straight week he led in 2020.
Frustration, however, was the word of the day for the 2018 series champion, who suffered a similar loss at Dover in 2019, finishing second after leading 81 laps from pole. This loss, however, has months of built-up frustration.
“If you want to finish second, yeah [the final caution] hurt us,” he said. “I don’t really give a damn about that though. It’s just frustrating. We’ve had decent speed but not good enough speed to lead these races. We’ve got to figure something out. Ultimately, it’s a good day for us but it’s not what we came here to do.”
One area where Moffitt struggled in was navigating lapped traffic, which is a factor often magnified on the high concrete banks of Dover. With Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski last month criticizing the qualification process for drivers to make it to the series, Moffitt mirrored his statements after Friday’s race.
“Like [Brad] Keselowski was saying, I don’t know what it takes to get qualified to run in this field, but I think they seriously need to look into it,” he said of lapped trucks. “Because there are guys out there — they don’t know if they’re going bottom, middle, top. They literally enter the corner not knowing what their truck is going to do.
“It’s dangerous at times. Not only for the sake of us keeping our trucks in one piece but for the safety of wrecks. It’s going to cause a Big One one day. It’s already cost me multiple race wins over the years and it’s frustrating. I have a hard time a lot of those trucks can reach minimum speed regularly.”
One positive Moffitt found from the race was how well his Chevrolet ran in the upper grooves. Though Matt Crafton found it “nearly impossible” to make speed above the bottom one to two lanes, Moffitt actually preferred to run higher as the tires laid down rubber.
“The bottom was good, but I was better up top,” he said. “I felt our truck was lacking mechanical grip so as soon as [the outside lane] rubbered up, I just went wherever there was clean concrete. I made up some good time up there, so I enjoyed that.
“But I understand what Matt [Crafton] was saying also. This tire, for some reason, as soon as the track rubbers in, there is no grip. It’s frustrating at times, so I understand what he was saying there. I thought, to my needs, it played more beneficial than it has in the past. It ultimately saved our day.”