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Brett Moffitt joins GMS Racing to defend Truck title

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GMS Racing announced Thursday that reigning NASCAR Truck champion Brett Moffitt will drive the team’s No. 24 ride in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. GMS Racing made the announcement a day after stating that Johnny Sauter would not return to the team.

“I’m excited to be given the chance to defend my 2018 championship,” Moffitt said in a statement from the team. “I have to thank the Gallagher family and everyone at GMS for this opportunity. I can’t wait to start working with Jerry (Baxter, crew chief) and the guys to kick off the season at Daytona in a few weeks.”

Moffitt needed a ride after he was replaced by Austin Hill at Hattori Racing. Despite winning the championship, Hattori Racing struggled to find sponsorship throughout the season. Moffitt said after winning the title in November he didn’t know where he would drive this season.

The 26-year-old Moffitt won six races last year. He has seven career Truck wins in 36 starts.

“Brett will be an excellent addition to the GMS organization,” GMS team president Mike Beam said in a statement. “Last year he showed the racing world the amount of talent and determination he has, especially while facing some adversity throughout the season. We look forward to helping him win his second championship and ours as well.

“We have a strong driver lineup in every series we’ll compete in this year. Maury Gallagher has given us the tools and personnel we need to compete for several championships.”

In a Thursday afternoon teleconference, Moffitt called the signing an “11th hour” deal and said discussions between him and GMS started “in-between the holidays. They just wanted to see what I could bring to them and what they could for me and if I was still available.”

Moffitt said “a few existing partners” that have been with him through the years will be on the No. 24, but he’s not sure how often.

Even with those partners, Moffitt said staying with Hattori was “never an option.”

“Quite frankly, I don’t think it would have been enough to move the needle,” Moffitt said. “I think GMS has given us a really good platform where we can take some of our current partners and their current partners and help build it all.”

Before the GMS opportunity arrived, Moffitt said he “had options open.”

“None of them that would necessarily lead to me being in race-winning equipment, which is what I wanted ultimately,” Moffitt said. “A few opportunities in less than impressive Cup stuff. We had talked with some Xfinity teams as well. The biggest thing for me is to go out and try to compete for a championship and win races. I was kind of holding out and hoping a deal like this would come together.”

Moffitt said he considered at one point settling for opportunities to run limited races in winning equipment.

He said the deal from GMS was the “best deal out there by far and I think it’ll be one of the best positions I’ve been in in my career.”

Moffitt cited a relationship with GMS that originated in one Xfinity Series start for the team in 2017 when he finished 11th at Iowa Speedway.

“Just kind of always been in talks on-and-off,” Moffitt said. “When this opportunity opened up to them, I believe I was the first person they called about it. I’m just glad we were able to make it happen.”

The rest of the GMS Racing lineup for 2019 features:

  • Rookie Sheldon Creed in the No. 2 Truck with Doug Randolph as crew chief.
  • John Hunter Nemechek in the No. 23 Xfinity car with Chad Norris as crew chief.
  • Sam Mayer in the No. 21 K&N Pro Series East ride. He’ll also run limited ARCA and Truck races.

GMS Racing also stated that Halmar Friesen Racing renewed its technical alliance with GMS Racing to field the No. 52 for Stewart Friesen.

Daniel McFadin contributed to this report

Austin Hill joins Hattori Racing Enterprises in Truck Series

Hattori Racing Enterprises
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Austin Hill will drive for Hattori Racing Enterprises in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series this season, the team announced Tuesday.

Hill takes over the No. 16 Toyota from Brett Moffitt, who won six races and the series title for the team last year. Moffitt revealed in early December that he would not be returning to the team due to a lack of sponsorship.

Moffitt has not announced any plans for 2019.

A native of Winston, Georgia, Hill is a former member of the NASCAR Next program who competed full-time for Young’s Motorsports in the Truck Series last year and finished 11th in the standings.

Hill has 51 Truck starts since 2014 with one top five in last November’s race at Texas Motor Speedway

He also earned five K&N Pro Series East wins from 2013-15.

The No. 16 will be sponsored by Toyota autodealer Chiba Toyopet in the season opener at Daytona. United Rentals will be a sponsor in multiple races. The team was sponsored by Ibaraki Toyopet and Kobe Toyopet in one race each in 2018.

“I’m thrilled to join HRE this season,” Hill said a press release. “(Owner) Shige (Hattori) has built a great team and what they accomplished last season has me extremely optimistic heading to Daytona. I’ve had the pleasure to work with great teams in the past, including my family’s team in the K&N Series, but this is an opportunity of a lifetime at HRE. Scott and the team proved what they’re capable of last season, and I can’t wait to get to work and see what we can accomplish this season.”

Scott Zipadelli will return as the team’s crew chief.

“I’m really looking forward to racing with Austin and continuing our team’s success,” Zipadelli said in the press release. “Austin is a great kid and has a lot of potential. He has a great track record in the K&N Series and put together a strong year last season with Young’s Motorsports. I think he’ll transition well into our program and fit right in with our group.”

Hattori also announced this week it will return to competition in the K&N Pro Series East with Max McLaughlin in the No. 1 Toyota.

McLaughlin’s team will run engines prepared by students from NASCAR Technical Institute’s (NTI) Spec Engine Program.

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Kyle Larson loses 10 points, car chief suspended for Talladega penalty

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Kyle Larson‘s Cup team has been penalized 10 driver and owner points and loses car chief David Bryant to a one-race suspension for a L1 penalty at Talladega Superspeedway.

Crew chief Chad Johnston was also fined $25,000.

The No. 42 team violated Section 10.9.9.d in the rulebook, which notes “Damaged vehicle repair, regardless of how the damage occurred, is permitted to have original body parts removed or reattached in their original location with fasteners and/or tape only.”

Larson spun with seven laps left in Stage 2 due to a flat tire.

Larson, who finished 11th in Sunday’s race and called it “embarrassing at times”, is now 36 points behind the cutoff spot on the playoff grid, making this weekend’s elimination race at Kansas Speedway a must win for Larson.

This is Bryant’s second suspension this season. He missed two races in May for a rear-window violation at Kansas.

NBC Sports has asked Chip Ganassi Racing if it will appeal;there was no immediate response from the team.

John Klausmeier, crew chief on Aric Almirola‘s No. 10 Ford, was fined $10,000 for an unsecured lug nut on the race-winning car.

NASCAR also issued three fines to crew chiefs in the Camping World Truck Series for the same L1 penalty.

Chad Kendrick (Austin Hill‘s No. 02 Chevrolet), Graham Bruce (Stewart Friesen‘s No. 52 Chevrolet) and Joel Shear Jr. (Johnny Sauter‘s No. 21 Chevrolet) were fined $5,000 for violating Section 20.4, which notes “Air is not allowed to pass from one area of the interior of the vehicle to another or to the outside of the vehicle.”

NASCAR also issued an indefinite suspension to Christopher Justin Chase for violating Sections 12.1.a and 2.11.a in the rulebook, a behavioral level violation.

 

Truck practice report at Chicagoland

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FINAL PRACTICE

With a lap of 174.972 mph, Todd Gilliland topped the charts in final practice for the Overton’s 225 at Chicagoland Speedway with the best speed of the day.

He beat Ben Rhodes (174.222) by .133 seconds.

Justin Haley (173.857 mph), Austin Hill (173.700) and Brett Moffitt (173.422) rounded out the top five.

Johnny Sauter, who had the fastest single lap in the first practice session, posted the quickest 10-lap average of 167.796 mph.

Brian Kaltreider (161.934) brought out the only caution in final practice when he spun harmlessly.

Click here for complete results from the final Truck practice

FIRST PRACTICE

Johnny Sauter posted the fastest lap in the first practice session with a speed of 174.160 mph.

He beat Dalton Sargeant (174.031 mph) by .023 seconds.

Rhodes (173.449), Noah Gragson (173.344) and Matt Crafton (172.933) rounded out the top five.

Only one driver logged 10 consecutive laps. Max Tullman posted an average speed o 162.044 mph in the No. 20.

Click here for complete results from the first Truck practice

Brett Moffitt wins Truck race at Iowa

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Brett Moffitt survived a banzai move by Noah Gragson in the final corner of the last lap of the M&Ms 200 to score his second win of the season and first on his hometown track of Iowa Speedway. Moffitt hails from Grimes, Iowa.

Gragson dove into turn 4 and overshot the exit, making heavy contact with the wall. He managed to cross the finish line second despite the contact.

Harrison Burton, David Gilliland and Johnny Sauter rounded out the top five.

Two multi-car incidents early in the race set the stage for the dramatic ending.

On lap 31, Christian Eckes moved up the track in a three-wide battle. He clipped Cody Coughlin and was turned into the wall, collecting Grant Enfinger, Austin Hill and Ben Rhodes in the aftermath.

On lap 134, Stewart Friesen and Matt Crafton made contact battling for eighth, pushing the left front tire in on Crafton’s truck. Two laps later, Crafton’s tire blew while he was battling Friesen, Rhodes, John Hunter Nemechek and Dalton Sargeant. The caution allowed some of the leaders to pit, leaving Moffitt with a decision to make as to whether to stay out on old tires.

Coughlin survived his incident to finish seventh. Eckes finished eighth, Friesen was ninth, and Snider rounded out the top 10.

STAGE 1 WINNER: John Hunter Nemechek

STAGE 2 WINNER: Stewart Friesen

HOW BRETT MOFFITT WON: Moffitt inherited the lead at the beginning of stage three and used the clean air to maintain his position.

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: David Gilliland’s third start of the season was his second top-five finish. His previous top five was a fourth at Dover. … Myatt Snider‘s first Iowa race ended with a 10th-place finish. … Making his fourth start of the season, Jesse Little scored his third top 10 of the year – the sixth-place finish is a career best.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Todd Gilliland got loose on lap 25 and damaged the right rear of his truck; he was running third at the time. Gilliland (who finished 28th) remained within one lap of the leaders until lap 101 when he spun into the wall and did heavy damage. … Nemechek and Crafton headed to the garage immediately following the lap-136, five-truck accident. … On lap 140, Justin Haley developed an engine problem that cost him four laps and sent him home 16th – ending a five-race streak of top-15s.

NOTABLE: Tanner Thorson lost a lap in the middle of stage two, but managed to stay in contact with the leaders. The midget racer earned his first career top-15 finish.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “Just overshot a little bit; committed to the gas and hit the fence.” – Gragson said of his last-lap move to FoxSports 1.

WHAT’S NEXT: Villa Lighting Delivers the Eaton 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park at 8 p.m. ET on June 23 on FS1.