Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: Brett Moffitt Snags Chicagoland Victory

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In a Nutshell: Just days ago, Brett Moffitt thought he would be sitting out Friday night’s Overton’s 225 at Chicagoland Speedway, and instead he was the one celebrating in Victory Lane after the checkered flag flew. Taking advantage of a last-lap pass on John Hunter Nemechek, who ultimately ended up running out of fuel and finished seventh, the driver of the No. 16 Toyota cruised to his third win of the season.

“I have to thank Fr8Auctions, our partners at TRD and Toyota that have gotten us to this point in the year and Shigeaki Hattori. This is great,” Moffitt said in Victory Lane. “We didn’t know if we were coming like you said. To be here in Victory Lane, it’s an honor and a blessing. These guys work hard. I feel like we threw away a couple of wins this season. I hate it for the No. 8, whatever happened to him. But we’ll take it however we can get it right now.”

Ben Rhodes wound up second, more than five seconds behind Moffitt, followed by Johnny Sauter. Polesitter Noah Gragson and teammate Brandon Jones rounded out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Simply put, Nemechek had the field covered in the late stages of the race, leading 64 laps, including 61 of the final 77, but when he and eventual winner Moffitt entered Turn 1 on the white flag lap, Nemechek dropped back suddenly, allowing Moffitt to take the win. “We’re blowing up,” was heard over the radio as a heartbroken Nemechek cruised to a seventh-place finish. But after the team evaluated the motor on pit road following the race, it confirmed that rather than a blown engine, the No. 8 Chevrolet had simply run out of fuel after not getting enough in it under the final pit stop of the night.

Race Rundown

Ben Rhodes Scores Runner-Up Finish

After opening the season with four top 10s in the first five races, along with a 12th-place finish after dominating at Martinsville Speedway, Ben Rhodes has seen his fair share of bad luck and had just one finish inside the top 15 (fifth at Charlotte) in the five races leading up to Chicagoland. Of course, that had him in the precarious position of being right around the bubble in the standings as the playoffs edge ever closer.

But the No. 41 team finally saw its luck turn around Friday night. After starting ninth, Rhodes scored points in the first stage before dropping outside the top 10. With that said, once the checkered flag flew, he was second on the track, albeit more than five seconds behind winner Brett Moffitt.

“We’ve had such bad luck this year, but our ThorSport Racing team has just been awesome. We had a fast Ford F-150 since we unloaded,” Rhodes said. “A little bit of luck actually went our way this time, so I’m extremely happy about that. This is well deserved by our team – nobody’s been working harder than this team in the garage. I truly mean it – these guys have been working hard, getting these trucks together. Our pit stops were phenomenal, and Ford has been helping us immensely. It’s just been awesome, I can’t thank them enough.”

For Rhodes, it’s got to feel great to pull out a top five finish after his team has been plagued by bad luck in four of the five prior races. It’s certainly not the cure-all for what ails the sophomore driver this season, however it’s a positive set of momentum heading into the off-weekend. The key for the No. 41 team is to capitalize and continue the forward movement come Kentucky in just under two weeks.

Max Tullman’s Quiet Debut

ARCA Racing Series rookie Max Tullman made his Truck Series debut at Chicagoland Speedway. Originally slated to run at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and Talladega Superspeedway later this season, the opportunity to pilot the No. 20 Chevrolet for Young’s Motorsports at the mile-and-a-half track presented itself earlier than expected, adding a third race to his Truck Series schedule.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity to drive for Young’s Motorsports this weekend at Chicagoland,” Tullman said of his debut. “I just want to finish the race. I don’t care if it’s first of last, I just want to do a good job for everyone at Yurpal.com and Young’s Motorsports.

“This is a huge learning curve for me, but I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by great people. I’d be very satisfied with a top-20 finish on Friday night.”

Tullman qualified 21st and was 23rd, four laps down when the checkered flag flew.

While it wasn’t the top 20 Tullman had hoped for, it’s more important at this early stage in his career that he gain experience. Running double-duty and competing in the ARCA race Thursday night arguably had to be a benefit as he got more track time.

But what’s ultimately going to dictate how well any driver succeeds in the sport is seat time. Nothing can replace actual experience behind the wheel of the truck, and that’s just what Tullman got Friday night.

Quick Hits

  • Stewart Friesen‘s rotten luck continued at Chicagoland Speedway, marking the third straight race he’s ended up with damage to the No. 52 Chevrolet. This time, it was contact with Jordan Anderson that ultimately spun Friesen and tore apart the back end of the truck. The team was able to repair the damage but not before losing a lap. Friesen ended up 19th, two laps down.
  • As a part of the NASCAR Salutes program, each driver in Friday night’s race wore a brand new pair of driving gloves that were then autographed and given to a soldier in attendance or their family at Chicagoland Speedway. It’s a unique way to give back to those who fight for our freedoms just days before the Fourth of July.

Truck Rookie Report

2018 Rookie of the Year Candidates

No. 4 Todd Gilliland
No. 13 Myatt Snider
No. 25 Dalton Sargeant
No. 45 Justin Fontaine
No. 54 Bo LeMastus

No. of rookies in the race: 5

No. of rookies to finish in the top 10: 1; Myatt Snider, finished 10th

Rookie of the Race: Snider

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Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series takes a weekend off before heading to its annual Thursday night special at Kentucky Speedway. Coverage for the Buckle Up Your Truck 225 begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.

About the author

Content Director Beth heads up management of our 30-person staff, acting as Tom’s main assistant with technology and personnel while working as Frontstretch’s Truck Series expert. The author of Truckin’ Thursdays and the coordinator of the site’s pre and post-race coverage, she also runs a periodic charity column that spotlights when NASCAR gives back. A childhood transplant to Texas, Beth is a 15-year writing veteran who has contributed content to BRANDT and Athlon Sports, among other outlets.

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