CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The first question to Brett Moffitt wasn’t about his four wins or the sponsorship woes that nearly cost him his playoff eligibility.
No, it was the thin strip of hair above the 26-year-old’s lip that was the elephant in the room.
Make that the caterpillar in the room.
After almost a month of growth you can’t miss it, especially in a series made up mostly of follicle challenged drivers under the age of 25. At the Camping World Truck Series Playoff Media Day, only the working man’s beard of 42-year-old Matt Crafton rivaled it.
Those happen to be the ‘staches that stand out to Moffitt in NASCAR history, which is filled by the glorious whiskers of Terry Labonte, Dale Jarrett, Tim Richmond, Richard Petty and Mike Skinner.
Noah Gragson, one of Moffitt’s seven playoff foes, is not impressed with Moffitt’s ‘stache.
“I think I can grow a much better mustache than him,” Gragson said straight-faced. “If you gave me a day-and-a-half, I could grow a broom on my upper lip. It’s not too good. His isn’t that great. His looks like a 12-year-old’s mustache.”
Has the 20-year-old driver grown his own?
“I haven’t yet,” Gragson admitted. “I just know I could grow a good one like that.”
Smooth-faced at 35, Stewart Friesen is actually “a little jealous” of Moffitt, since his facial hair follicles don’t have it in them to “make a good playoff beard.”
“When we won (Super) Dirt Week in 2010, 2011, everybody on the crew grew a mustache,” Friesen said. “But now he’s got it, he’s flying the flag.”
Moffitt will look to fly the flag that was last carried by Jack Sprague.
He won three titles in 1997, 1999 and 2001. Moffitt was only 9 when Sprague and his ‘stache won their final title together, marking the last time a national NASCAR driver won a championship with nothing but a ‘stache on his face.
“That’d be pretty awesome then,” Moffitt said of possibly giving his team the first ‘stache title in 17 years. “Bringing it back to the early 2000s.”
The chance to become the first millennial ‘stache champion in NASCAR started as a joke.
Last month Moffitt challenged his team before the seven-race playoff started.
“I can’t grow a beard, so I couldn’t do a playoff beard,” Moffitt said. “But I could do a … mustache. I joked with them, ‘Whose going to be in on it?’ Most of them agreed.”
He started growing the mustache – his first serious attempt at facial hair – the week of his Aug. 3 K&N Pro Series East win at Watkins Glen. Since then he won his fourth Truck race at Michigan and placed 18th at Bristol.
Moffitt doesn’t even touch it as part of his daily hygienic routine.
“This is just natural,” Moffitt said. “Just let it go, baby.”
In the last week, the 2015 Cup Series Rookie of the Year started to get cold feet.
Monday evening, he posted a Twitter poll: Keep the ‘stache or “give in to the haters”?
Johnny Sauter passed John Hunter Nemechek with five laps remaining in the UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway to win his fifth Truck race of the year in the regular season finale. This is Sauter’s first Truck win at Bristol.
Stewart Friesen raced Sauter in the closing laps for what was an apparent bid for second until Nemechek faltered in the closing laps when his engine lost power to an undisclosed mechanical failure.
Friesen followed Sauter around the faltering Nemechek to second. This is the third time this season that Friesen has finished second. He is is still looking for his first Truck win.
Nemechek held on to finish third, but seemed to have the truck to beat until he lost power. Nemechek took the lead from pole sitter Christopher Bell on lap 31 and went on to win Stage 1 and 2 of the race.
At a loss for words. We put on a clinic tonight, led a ton of laps! Had motor issues at the end of the race while leading and came home 3rd. Another one that slipped away! Learn from it and get better! Looking forward to the future. #nemechek42
HOW JOHNNY SAUTER WON: He took the lead for the first time at the beginning of the final stage when Nemechek pitted, lost it briefly to Gragson on the restart, and regained the top spot on lap 131. Nemechek ran Sauter down in traffic, retaking the lead on lap 177. Battling Friesen hard in the closing lap kept Sauter from losing the second spot and when Nemechek faltered, he was in position to take advantage.
WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Making his Truck debut, Stefan Parsons stayed on the lead lap until lap 95. He lost another lap late in the race and finished 17th to earn a top 20. … Also making his debut, Codie Rohrbaugh finished 16th. … Ross Chastain got his weekend off to a good start with a 12th-place finish in the Truck race. He will also race in the Xfinity Series Friday night and Cup on Sunday.
WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: After finishing fifth at Daytona in the season opener, Scott Lagasse Jr. spun and crashed on lap 16 in just his second Truck start of the season. … Myatt Snider was fighting to stay on the lead lap and battling for a position with Gragson when the two made contact coming to the end of Stage 2. Snider spun into the inside wall and did major damage.
NOTABLE: Christopher Bell acclimated quickly to the No. 51 truck. He won the pole after taking over for an ailing Harrison Burton and then jumped out to an early lead and paced the field for 31 laps. He faded at the end when his power steering failed.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “Uncle Johnny (Sauter) races me hard and that was a couple of bad ass Silverados going at it. … The lap traffic was to our advantage. We could roll when they moved up. … That was probably the most fun I’ve had all year, bumping and grinding. There are no better guys to race with than John Hunter and Johnny.” – Stewart Friesen on Fox.
WHAT’S NEXT: Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Aug. 26 at 2:30 PM on FS1.