Home / Beth Lunkenheimer / Tracking the Trucks: Brett Moffitt Inches Past Johnny Sauter for Michigan Win
(Photo: Nigel Kinrade/NKP)

Tracking the Trucks: Brett Moffitt Inches Past Johnny Sauter for Michigan Win

In a Nutshell: Brett Moffitt scored his fourth win of the 2018 season Saturday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway. The driver of the No. 16 Toyota worked his way through the field from a starting spot outside the top 20 and made a last-lap pass on Johnny Sauter to grab the win by a mere 0.025 seconds.

“I knew Johnny [Sauter] was fast and our Toyota engine, we were lacking a little bit of raw speed today with that, but I was just really waiting to time it, Moffitt said in Victory Lane. “Pretty amazing that this little team has gone to Victory Lane four times now this year. I can’t thank Shige Hattori [team owner] and all these guys enough.

“The whole last however many laps that I was behind him, I was running wide open and I would push him with that air bubble between our bumpers so I tried to back up [Turn] 1 and let him get out there a little bit. I knew the 8 [John Hunter Nemechek] was behind us and I was hoping he would get to us and be able to push us. I was able to plan it right and play it right – it’s just great to get here.”

Polesitter John Hunter Nemechek wound up third, followed by Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates Noah Gragson and Todd Gilliland.

Ben Rhodes was sixth, ahead of Grant Enfinger, who won stage two, and Stewart Friesen, who won stage one. Justin Haley and Matt Crafton rounded out the top 10.

CWTS MICHIGAN FULL RACE RESULTS

Who Should Have Won: From the drop of the green flag, there was no clear favorite to win all race long. In fact, no single driver led more than 18 laps on the day. Instead, there were 16 lead changes among nine different drivers in a race that featured quite a bit of jockeying for the lead. In the end, Moffitt outsmarted the veteran in Sauter and scored his fourth win of the year.

Race Rundown

Matt Mills Crashes Early in Series Return

Matt Mills returned to Truck Series competition for the first time this season and started out with a bang after qualifying fourth. His previous best starting position was 17th.

But when it came to race time, Mills didn’t last much longer than the first stage. Once the field went green for stage two, the No. 54 Toyota snapped around and slammed hard into the outside wall after completing just 27 of 100 laps on the day.

It was a disappointing 31st-place end to a run that could have easily translated into a top-10 finish, especially with how strong the DGR-Crosley trucks have been all season. Instead, Mills, who took a bit to get out of the truck and then did so gingerly, was forced to take the mandatory ride to the infield care center and cut his series return short.

Another Strong Run Thwarted for Stewart Friesen

Coming into Michigan, Stewart Friesen carried a ton of momentum with him after finishing second, third and fourth in the prior three Truck Series races.

Fast forward to race day and Friesen qualified fifth. He took the lead for the first time on lap 14 and led all the way through the stage one win. By the end of stage two, he had dropped back to ninth after losing momentum on a late-stage block by Todd Gilliland.

Early in the second half of the race, Friesen led for three laps before making his green-flag pit stop. As he drove down pit road, Dalton Sargeant got into Myatt Snider, sending the latter spinning and the yellow flag flying.

Friesen had already made it onto pit road before the caution came out and got his truck serviced while he was there. In fact, he looked like the big winner in that exchange since he easily got off of pit road before then-leader Johnny Sauter crossed the start/finish line. That is, until the penalty.

That’s right. That small push by Friesen’s fueler, who is only allowed to fuel the truck and nothing more, was enough to drop him to the tail-end of the field with less than 20 laps remaining. Despite the penalty, he recovered to finish eighth, though it wasn’t the race-winning run the No. 52 team had in mind.

The good news for Friesen coming out of this race, though, is that the yellow did come out as he was pulling down pit road. It was a great heads-up move by crew chief Trip Bruce to go ahead and service the truck, and the penalty would have been a bigger disadvantage if it had happened under green-flag conditions.

Additionally, that he holds a 39-point advantage over Matt Crafton, which means even a first-time winner next week at Bristol shouldn’t knock him out of the playoffs, barring an early-race major disaster.

Quick Hits:

  • Spencer Davis spun courtesy of a right rear tire sidewall issue in the final round of qualifying earlier Saturday. While he managed to avoid damaging the truck, he was forced to start at the rear of the field when the team changed tires. He was never a factor throughout the race but climbed inside the top 15 for a while. But with 10 laps remaining, he suffered a tire failure that left him with a disappointing 22nd-place finish, five laps down in his final scheduled Truck Series start this season.

  • For much of the second half of the race, Cody Coughlin struggled with a vibration and complained of motor problems. But despite those problems, he ran some of the fastest laps on the track and still brought the No. 2 Chevrolet home with a 14th-place finish.
  • Two weeks ago, Noah Gragson was forced to sit out with an illness when doctors wouldn’t clear him to compete. He returned with a vengeance in Michigan and led 18 laps on the day. After finish seventh in both stages, he climbed to an eventual fourth-place result.
  • In an effort to help raise funds for a tornado damaged Iowa, Brett Moffitt has teamed up with the Red Cross. For a $10 donation, fans can enter for a trip to the Truck Series season finale, and the winner will spend that race with the No. 16 team.

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: Todd Gilliland, finished fifth

Rookie of the Race: Gilliland

“We had a really fast Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra today and we just needed something, a little bit more to compete with those guys – [Johnny] Sauter and [Brett] Moffitt this weekend. We’re getting there every week for sure, but it kind of hurts to be that close. I felt like we were one adjustment away and in these races, you get like one-and-a-half chances at it. That’s just something I’m not used to and I need to get a little better.

“We just need to keep learning every week and I feel like we’re just one part away every race and that’s a good feeling and also a bad feeling. The KBM stuff has been really good there at Bristol in the past so we’ll see what we can do.”

Points Update: Heading into the last race of the regular season, Johnny Sauter holds a 56-point advantage over Noah Gragson. Grant Enfinger sits third, though he’s without a win this year. Stewart Friesen and race winner Brett Moffitt are separated by just three points and round out the top five.

Matt Crafton sits sixth and is the lowest driver in the standings without a victory at this point. Justin Haley and Ben Rhodes are seventh and eighth, respectively. Myatt Snider and Cody Coughlin round out the top 10.

Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series has a short week before heading off to Bristol Motor Speedway Thursday night (Aug. 16). Coverage for the UNOH 200 begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.

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About Beth Lunkenheimer

Beth Lunkenheimer
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 13-year writing veteran who has contributed content to BRANDT and Athlon Sports, among other outlets.

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