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BREAKING: Ross Chastain has been disqualified from the M&M’s 200 race at Iowa Speedway after his winning truck failed post-race inspection for being too low. Instead, Brett Moffitt has been declared the race winner.
Ross Chastain took the lead with a three-wide pass at the end of stage one in the 2019 M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway. From that point on, the No. 44 truck was in complete control as Chastain took a major step toward the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series playoffs.
Or so everyone thought.
Chastain drove away from the field Sunday (June 16) to win the race comfortably over Brett Moffitt. Less than two weeks after declaring for points for the division, he scored his second career GOTS win and second in two months with Niece Motorsports.
But problems emerged in M&M’s 200 post-race inspection. NASCAR officials found the car was too low and stripped the win from Chastain, instead handing Moffitt his first victory of 2019. It’s the first disqualification of a winner in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series history since Mike Skinner in 1999.
Moffitt was surprised after the race but more than happy to benefit from Chastain’s misfortune.
“This is not the way you wanna win,” @Brett_Moffitt says. “I know I got beat on the track.
"But I’ll take a win any way I can get it"
— Alan Cavanna (@AlanCavanna) June 16, 2019
“For the integrity of the sport,” Moffitt said later from the media center, “It is the right thing.” Note the GMS Racing driver was awarded the victory without actually leading a single lap of the race.
#NASCAR’s Brad Moran @NASCARDirTour confirms that the 44 of @RossChastain was too low after multiple attempts to pass post-race inspection at @iowaspeedway “Unfortunately the height sticks it was extremely low” pic.twitter.com/jHAAWAzjcf
— Jerry Jordan (@JerryJordan_KTT) June 16, 2019
The incident tarnished what had been a phenomenal performance by Chastain. Pulling away from Moffitt after the race’s final caution, Chastain was never seriously challenged within the last 50 laps of the event. Suddenly, his decision to abandon NASCAR’s Xfinity Series championship for a chance at a GOTS title looked prophetic. He moved to within 14 points of cracking the top 20; once he enters it, a victory is all that’s needed to clinch him a postseason spot.
Now, that opportunity may have to wait. NASCAR has given the team up until noon eastern time on Monday (June 17) to appeal the penalty; Niece Motorsports has, indeed, chosen to appeal. It also remains unclear who wins a $50,000 bonus as part of the Truck Series Triple Truck Challenge.
The Chastain/Moffitt saga came in a race delayed from Saturday night due to rain. The newly-minted Father’s Day event didn’t initially see them emerge as the frontrunners, though. Instead, ARCA Menards Series driver Chandler Smith dominated the first stage, albeit plagued with radio issues, during his debut for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
The 16-year-old Smith flew to Iowa yesterday after winning the ARCA event at Madison International Speedway. Piloting the No. 51 Safelite Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports, he showed plenty of promise. Starting on the pole after qualifying was canceled, he jumped out to a five-second lead and appeared poised to win the first stage going away.
But communication issues arose for the driver. During the first pit stop, Smith’s team spent more than 30 seconds to allow for a radio change. The lost track position left him trapped in traffic; a pit penalty later in the day assured the rookie would not recover. He wound up eighth.
That created an opening for Niece Motorsports, fielding Chastain and Kyle Benjamin in the Nos. 44 and 45. The team made the most of stage one, putting both trucks in the top 10 for most of the opener.
That three-wide pass was the catalyst for Chastain’s day, earning him a lead he kept the remainder of the race.
During the final stage, with Chastain surging ahead the drama was limited to midpack. That’s where Sauter and Austin Hill tangled several times to bring out the day’s main controversy. Sauter made contact with Hill into turn 1, causing both drivers to get loose, and Hill retaliated by sending Sauter spinning in turn 4 less than two laps later.
Sauter then tracked Hill down under the yellow flag on lap 140, spinning the No. 16, and was parked by NASCAR for his actions. Any further penalties for the incident will be announced later this week.
None of that rattled Chastain. He extended his lead after the restart and drove away, winning on the racetrack by more than two seconds over runner-up Moffitt. But the post-race inspection woes have casted a shadow on what appeared to be a playoff-clinching performance for Chastain at Iowa Speedway.
Two hours after the race’s conclusion, Niece Motorsports released the following statement.
— Niece Motorsports (@NieceMotorsport) June 16, 2019
“Our Niece Motorsports team works hard to ensure that our race trucks are within the confines of NASCAR’s rules,” owner Al Niece said. “Both of our Chevrolets passed opening and pre-race inspections. We believe that the No. 44 Truck sustained minor damage during the event, which left the truck too low following the race. We will appeal NASCAR’s decision. Regardless of the outcome, this team will be prepared to go to Gateway and win again.”
The unofficial results have Moffitt listed first followed by Ben Rhodes, Harrison Burton, Grant Enfinger and Stewart Friesen. Sheldon Creed, Matt Crafton, Smith, Raphael Lessard and Todd Gilliland rounded out the top-10 finishers.
The Gander Outdoors Truck Series now heads to World Wide Technology Speedway next Saturday (June 22). The green flag is scheduled to wave shortly after 10 p.m. ET with coverage on FOX Sports 1.