NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2-Headed Monster: Can Anyone Beat Brett Moffitt?

Brett Moffitt is on a tear. He won the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sunday (Aug. 25), giving him back-to-back NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series victories. Dating back to last season, Moffitt has won the last four Truck Series playoff races.

With his current amount of playoff points, he is in a terrific position to advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. So this week, the 2-Headed Monster asks: can anyone beat Moffitt? Adam Cheek says Moffitt is unstoppable, whereas Mark Kristl refutes that notion.

Minimal Matches for Moffitt

Moffitt is on a roll, and it won’t be stopped anytime soon.

The driver of GMS Racing’s No. 24 machine in the Truck Series has won from the pole in the first two races of the division’s playoffs — one in dominating fashion — and has more than secured his spot into the second round.

The defending Truck champion battled Ross Chastain in the first duel of the playoffs at Bristol Motor Speedway, with both outrunning the other six championship contenders. Chastain received a pit road penalty that mired him back in the field, and while he raced his way up to third, Moffitt held serve at the front and won the event.

The next week saw the series make the trip to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the only road course on the circuit. Even with ringers like Alex Tagliani running near the front, Moffitt won by five seconds over the entire field.

So, can anyone beat the mustachioed Moffitt? No.

Chastain provided one of the year’s best stories and has a great shot to carry the momentum of his season to the final round at Homestead-Miami. However, we’ve seen this out of Moffitt before, and he carried his own momentum into the playoffs last year, winning the championship outright for Hattori Racing Enterprises.

He’s won four consecutive postseason races: the final two races last season at ISM Raceway and Homestead and the first two of 2019 at Bristol and Mosport.

Additionally, his season slightly mirrors his title-winning 2018 campaign. While he did win Atlanta Motor Speedway early on last year, it was at Iowa Speedway in the summer that he really began to appear on the map. His first win of 2019 came at Iowa, and he won Chicagoland Speedway both last year and this year. He also currently has the same number of wins he did at this point last season. Add to that the momentum of winning that championship (albeit switching teams in the offseason) and you have a solid foundation for a title defense.

He’s already matched his top-10 total from last year (13), is averaging a 4.1 starting spot and currently has a near-identical average finish to 2018 (8.2 this year opposed to 8.9 last season), and this is through only 18 races this year.

I tried to compare this to Matt Crafton’s back-to-back championship seasons in 2013 and 2014 (Crafton was the first to win consecutive titles, despite the past domination of drivers like Ron Hornaday Jr. and Jack Sprague), and there’s actually not much to compare. Crafton won his titles out of sheer consistency — he only won three races in those two years, but racked up 36 top-10 finishes and averaged a finish of 7.45.

Moffitt has fewer top-10 finishes and a slightly lower average finish between 2018 and 2019, but he’s tallied 10 wins between the two years. He has every gear turning on his way to what’s more than likely a second consecutive title, barring a string of disastrous events.

Keep a watch on that No. 24 truck all the way through Homestead-Miami. He’ll be up front … a lot. -Adam Cheek 

In a Stout Playoff Field; Of Course Moffitt can be Beaten

Moffitt has found his stride at the right time of the season. However, let’s not anoint him the 2019 champion just yet.

Remember, his first win this season came at Iowa after Chastain’s race-winning No. 44 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet failed post-race inspection. Moffitt had a fast No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet at Chicagoland. So what?

Chastain had the best truck at Kansas Speedway, Iowa Speedway, World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway and Pocono Raceway. Only three of those counted as wins, but Chastain has bested Moffitt at least four times this season.

What of the other playoff drivers? Matt Crafton is a two-time Truck Series champion, and Johnny Sauter has won a championship. Both know how to advance throughout the playoffs and win the championship.

Sauter has won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before, and he is a master at all three tracks in the Round of 6. The last time he finished below fourth place in the Truck Series championship standings was in 2012. Sauter is a seasoned veteran who knows how to turn on the aggression, race smart and make a deep playoff run.

As Crafton said following the race at Michigan International Speedway earlier this year, the racetracks in the playoffs require drivers to use both pedals. He believes he can win the championship because of his experience and consistency this season.

ThorSport Racing arguably is the best team this Truck Series season. In addition to those two drivers, Grant Enfinger won the regular season championship. He also won the race last year at the next track on the Truck Series schedule, Las Vegas. Enfinger also led Moffitt in the point standings for much of this season.

Stewart Friesen won the 2019 Eldora Dirt Derby, and he also has 10 top-five finishes thus far this season. He has been racing upfront for most of this season. Even when Friesen wrecked out of the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, he finished in 10th place. The never-give-up attitude from his Halmar Friesen Racing team combined with his talent behind the wheel of the No. 52 Chevrolet make him a threat to Moffitt.

How about Tyler Ankrum or Austin Hill? Sure, Ankrum is a rookie, but he may benefit from Michael Waltrip’s often-used phrase regarding young and rookie drivers: “They don’t know what they don’t know.” It sounds simple, but it means Ankrum may be willing to gamble to advance to the Round of 6 and Championship 4. Truthfully, his inexperience makes him a threat to Moffitt.

Hill has enjoyed a breakthrough season thus far. He drives for the championship-winning team from last year, Hattori Racing Enterprises. He bookended the regular season with wins. Who’s saying he cannot win again? At Mosport, he flawlessly executed his game plan to accrue as many points as possible to move up the championship standings. He succeeded, gaining two spots and moving above the Round of 8 cutline. If he follows this game plan at Las Vegas, Hill may advance to the Round of 6. If that happens, he will add beating Moffitt to his Round of 6 game plan.

The 2019 Truck Series playoff field contains eight talented drivers. While Moffitt is the only one who has clinched a Round of 6 berth, the difference between second-place Chastain and eighth-place Ankrum is 40 points. If Chastain fails to finish the race at Las Vegas, he could miss the Round of 6. Moreover, the margin between third-place Friesen and seventh-place Sauter is a mere six points. That can easily swing with stage racing.

Rest assured, all seven playoff drivers will continue to have fast trucks, and they all have a great shot at hunting down the reigning champion Moffitt. – Mark Kristl

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