Brett Moffitt won for the second time in three races, capturing Friday night’s Camping World 225 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Moffitt did it with domination, not drama, as was the case in his previous win two races ago at Iowa Speedway. In that race, Moffitt finished second to Ross Chastain. But about an hour after the checkered flag, Chastain’s truck was found to be too low in post-race inspection, prompting NASCAR to take the win away from him and give it to Moffitt instead.
But in Friday night’s race, Moffitt – last year’s Truck Series champion – led a race-high 72 laps, nearly half of the 150-lap event. In taking the checkered flag, he held off runner-up Brandon Jones, who won Stage 1 Friday night, followed by Stewart Friesen, Harrison Burton and Austin Hill.
“It’s been a rough start to the year, but we’re getting it rolling now,” Moffitt told FS1. “We didn’t have the results early, but it’s getting a lot better now.”
In earning his ninth career truck race — and eighth in the last two seasons (2018 and 2019) — Moffitt has now won more truck races during that time than any other driver. It was also the second straight win at Chicagoland Speedway for Moffitt, who won last year’s Truck race there.
It was an especially frustrating night for ThorSport Racing.
First, Ben Rhodes barely got through one lap before his truck began smoking heavily. He made his way to pit road for service, but was pushed by his crew back to the garage just a few moments later.
Rhodes missed the first practice session on Thursday with an engine issue. It’s unclear if Friday’s problem was related to Thursday’s issue.
“It’s just sickening,” Rhodes told FS1. “It’s awful and puts us in a bad spot for the playoff picture. What hurts the most is I thought we had a truck that could win tonight. Just weird stuff has been happening.
“It was just oil dumping out of the main seal, didn’t show anything in qualifying and it just starts doing it as I go through the gears coming up to the green. I don’t know what to say, just a big letdown.”
In the second stage, Johnny Sauter had motor issues that saw him drop from qualifying second to 23rd after repairs on pit road. Sauter finished 18th, the fifth straight race that he has failed to finish in the top 10 following his win at Dover.
Then, early in the final stage, Spencer Davis got into Grant Enfinger’s truck and put him in the wall, causing extensive damage to Enfinger’s ride. Davis then bounced off and into the side of Austin Wayne Self’s truck, putting both trucks out of the race.
Enfinger had led the most laps up to that point (49) and won Stage 2 prior to the incident with Davis. Enfinger also had a slight confrontation with Austin Hill after the race (see tweets below).
On top of all that, Matt Crafton had the engine replaced in his truck after Thursday’s practices, forcing him to start Friday’s race from the back of the field. While he managed to work his way into the top 10, Crafton finished eighth.
STAGE 1 WINNER:Brandon Jones (passed Grant Enfinger on the last lap)
STAGE 2 WINNER:Grant Enfinger (held off Brandon Jones on last lap)
Austin Hill won the pole for tonight’s NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Camping World 225 race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Hill covered the 1.5-mile layout at a top speed and a track record of 176.632 mph. Alongside him on the front row for tonight’s race will be Johnny Sauter (176.494 mph).
It could be an interesting race, as it will be the first time Hill and Sauter have been on the same race track in two weeks. Hill and Sauter tangled two weeks ago at Iowa Speedway, when Sauter intentionally slammed into Hill’s truck during a caution period, leading to NASCAR to suspend Sauter for the following race last weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (formerly Gateway Motorsports Park).
Through it all — and that includes Brown moving from his family’s primary car to another ride twice because someone else brought sponsorship money — Brown is 14th in points heading into Sunday’s Xfinity race at Iowa Speedway.
He is 97 points out of the final playoff spot, held by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brandon Jones. While the playoffs would be quite an accomplishment, it will be difficult for a team such as Brown’s to top many of the better-funded organizations ahead.
Even so, Brown is reaching one of his goals for the season.
“Our focus this year was to crack the top 15,” he told NBC Sports. “Getting a top-10 finish would be great. I don’t want it to be because the leaders wrecked. Superspeedways, we can count them if we want, but that’s like a crapshoot. We want to earn a top 10 this year.”
He hasn’t gotten there yet. Brown finished a career-best 13th this season at Atlanta, Dover and Pocono.
It’s not easy to get into the top 10 with a fleet of older chassis that includes those once driven by John Wes Townley at Athenian Motorsports. Brown said the team also added some Richard Childress Racing chassis when RCR downsized its program.
There have been other changes throughout the season. Brown has had seven different pit crew combinations in the first 13 races because not everyone they’ve used is always available. With tenths of a second often the difference between gaining or losing spots on pit road, the less a crew and driver are familiar with each other, the longer it can take to complete stops.
“When you’re switching to new guys, I don’t think they know what to expect (from the driver) until after the first stop,” he said.
Brown’s biggest challenge, though, is money, especially for a team with fewer than a dozen full-time employees. Even Brown has a dual role. The team’s website lists him as marketing director/driver.
That means the 25-year-old makes a lot of phone calls.
“The goal is obviously to search for any company that has expressed any interest in motorsports at all, whether it is circle track racing, road course racing, dirt bike, whatever,” Brown told NBC Sports. “Also, it kind of comes down to who do we know, who do any friends and family know, try to make some sort of a connection so that it’s not a complete cold (call), ‘Hey my name is Brandon, what do you think of NASCAR?’
“It’s going through everybody’s rolodex in the shop because a lot of the guys come from different areas, try to pull from each one of them.”
For every phone call that provides hope, there are many more rejections or calls that aren’t returned.
“It’s definitely tedious,” said Brown, who graduated from Coastal Carolina University in December. “It’s not the most fun at all. I understand that each and every team in the garage in some shape or form has gone through something similar. I just kind of throw it up to growing pains and just kind of look forward to … a day where I can just go to the track and come home and just focus on watching film or doing a simulator.”
Until then, he’ll keep looking for money for Brandonbilt Motorsports, which is running its first full-time season in NASCAR.
Brown ran the season’s first seven Xfinity races without a primary sponsor. He has had a sponsor in five of the past six races. Vero True Social is back as a sponsor this weekend at Iowa after it served in that role at Charlotte and Michigan.
“It all comes down to the dollar that keeps the race team alive,”Brown said.
He will remain in the No. 86 for the foreseeable future since no one has purchased any more races at this time.
Even with all the challenges, Brown has made gains. His season-worst 26th-place finish last weekend at Michigan ended a streak of five consecutive top-20 finishes. Despite not having sponsorship early in the season, he opened with six top 20s in a row.
“We want to peg up the ladder,” Brown said. “We understand as a team where we are in comparison to the rest of the garage.”
That doesn’t mean he’s satisfied with staying there. So he keeps calling, searching for the money that will help this team climb higher.
Reddick has three wins during that stretch, while Bell and Custer each have two wins.
Reddick notes how competition between helps make each better.
“Every single week and every single lap I feel like, if say I’m leading and they’re catching me, I push harder, if I’m catching them, they push harder,” Reddick told NBC Sports of Bell and Custer. “Most people I’m able to run down and catch and make something happen, but those two are definitely the hardest to pass. They work the hardest to keep you behind them. It’s a lot of fun battling with them.”
3. Wanting to scream!
Chase Cabre did just that after winning his first K&N Pro Series East race June 2 at Memphis International Raceway. The win came in his 33rd career series start.
Cabre, in his third season in the series, had three runner-up finishes, including two this year, before the win.
OK, so once the celebration in victory lane is done, the car passes inspection, and it’s time to leave, then what?
Cabre drove back to the Charlotte area with his mom and brother but first they stopped for dinner at a Red Robin restaurant.
“It’s funny how the emotions change so fast,” Cabre told NBC Sports. “You get out, you’re screaming and the next thing you know you want everybody to realize I won. (At the restaurant), nobody here knows you won.
“They have no clue. ‘What are you so excited about?’ “
If only they knew.
4. Truck debut
Sixteen-year-old Chandler Smith makes his Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut this weekend at Iowa Speedway. He’ll be in the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports. The Toyota development driver has three ARCA wins and six poles in 13 starts. His most recent ARCA victory was May 19 at Toledo (Ohio) Speedway.
Smith also is scheduled to drive for KBM on June 28 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Aug. 15 at Bristol Motor Speedway and Nov. 7 at ISM Raceway. He will drive the KBM Super Late Model Oct. 13 at the Winchester (Speedway) 400, Nov. 3 in the All-American 400 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and Dec. 2 in the Snowball Derby.
He must be in the top 20 in points to be eligible for a playoff spot should he win. His Kansas victory does not count toward playoff eligibility because he had not declared for Truck points at the time.
Chastain enters this weekend 64 points out of 20th place in the season standings. Anthony Alfredo is 20th with 102 points.