Brett Moffitt And Hattori Racing Enterprises Pull Off Underdog Effort By Winning Titleby Hunter Thomas November 16, 2018 0 comments
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Brett Moffitt won the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship by winning the Ford EcoBoost 200 on Friday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The title is a first for 26-year-old Moffitt, crew chief Scott Zipadelli and team owner Shigeaki Hattori. The effort was truly an underdog performance for the Hattori Racing Enterprises. At one point during the year, the team didn’t even know if sponsorship would carry to the end of the season.
“It’s unreal,” Moffitt said. “We all know the story by now where we didn’t know if we were going to race the full year. I didn’t know if I was going to have the opportunity to compete for a championship even after we got our first win. Everyone pulled together hard here. Back at Chicago we didn’t know if we were going to make it to the race track and Marcus (Barela) with Fr8Auctions stepped us and got us there. We’ve had many partners like that and iRacing all year long that came in at clutch moments and got us to the race track when we needed to.”
On Friday night, Moffitt took the lead away from Championship 4 contender, Noah Gragson on lap 99. The pass ultimately set Moffitt up for the win, because not long after, the final green flag pit stops of the year cycled through, and he retook on lap 106. The race went caution free as Moffitt led the final 29 laps of the season. Moffitt, driver of the No. 16 ASIN Group Toyota, led a race high of 59 laps throughout the entire night.
“I just got the tires a little too hot when I was trying to get inside of him (Noah Gragson) the first time,” Moffitt said. “I didn’t probably commit hard enough to the move and then I kind of let my tires cool down and ran the top to try to get to him and he was kind of backing up and we could still run the bottom really well which is unusual for Homestead, but I’ll take it.”
Throughout the 2018 season, Moffitt captured six wins (Atlanta, Iowa, Chicagoland, Michigan, ISM Raceway and Homestead-Miami),13 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. Moffitt is the 17th driver in history to ever win a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship.
“The accomplishments of the single truck team of Hattori Racing Enterprises and Brett Moffitt this season are something that will be celebrated within the walls of Toyota,” said Vinay Shahani, Vice President, Media, Motorsports and Incentives for Toyota. “Moffitt and his team quickly became frontrunners with their win at Atlanta and never let up, advancing to Homestead and winning the championship in what has become a dream season.”
Pole-sitter Grant Enfinger finished second, followed by Gragson who led 34 laps throughout the night. Gragson had strong truck all race long, but at the end of the night, he was fighting tight conditions. With no caution in the final laps to bunch the field back together, Gragson was just hanging on to the top-five.
“We were just tight there,” Gragson said. “We needed to make better adjustments on pit road. That’s where it comes down to me. I need to do a better job. On the bright side, racing for a championship, I never would have dreamed of that when I started racing six years ago that I’d be in this position with Kyle Busch Motorsports and Safelite AutoGlass, Toyota, Switch, everybody who helps me. It’s my last truck race with Kyle Busch Motorsports. Man, I wanted to go out on top, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Stewart Friesen and 2018 ARCA Racing Series champion Sheldon Creed rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 were Matt Crafton, John Hunter Nemechek, Championship 4 contender Justin Haley, Jesse Little and Ben Rhodes. Harrison Burton finished 11th. Championship 4 contender Johnny Sauter struggled all night long as he finished 12th.
The 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season will kickoff at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, February 15 with the NextEra Energy Resources 250.
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
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