HOMESTEAD, Fla. — While Brett Moffitt won Friday night’s Ford EcoBoost 200 to secure the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, Noah Gragson, Justin Haley and Johnny Sauter all fell short of that ultimate goal.
The three other Championship 4 drivers each had solid seasons in their own right, but when the lights shone brightest at Homestead-Miami Speedway, none of them were any match for the dominant performance that Moffitt put together at the 1.5-mile South Florida oval.
Gragson came the closest to wresting the championship trophy from Moffitt’s grasp, taking the lead at the start of the final stage and looking like a driver primed to win the title. However, Moffitt’s truck continued to get better as the green-flag run wore on and Gragson lost the lead with 36 to go.
Moffitt then opened up a 3.4-second gap over Gragson during the final round of green-flag pit stops and Gragson lost second place to Grant Enfinger during the cycle as well, ending his title aspirations.
The Las Vegas native ultimately finished third, five seconds adrift of Moffitt at the checkered flag, placing him second in the season standings after one win, eight top-five and 17 top-10 finishes this year.
That was me giving 100 percent, driving my nuts off pretty much,” Gragson told SPEED SPORT. “It’s tough, but I guess it just comes down to experience and making good. I mean, I had my tongue hanging out. I wasn’t falling out of the seat, but I just burned the front tires off the truck. We were loose on the first run, then just made it a little bit too tight for the second run through the center and got snappy on exit. When we got my exit really good, I was too tight through the center and burnt the front tires off.
Gragson came to pit road slightly earlier than he had planned when he radioed to the crew that he thought the right-front tire was going flat on his No. 18 Toyota, but ultimately, it didn’t matter.
“I thought I had a left front going down. I don’t know what the problem was,” Gragson noted. “It might have just been all in my head, but it just started getting really tight … three, four, five numbers of a balance shift tighter. It was really challenging.
“Man, it sucks when you see (Moffitt) driving away from you,” he added. “I’m bummed out, but I’ve got bigger and better things to move on to and got the off‑season to spend with the family. I’m proud and thankful for this KBM team and I get to go racing next year, too, so that’s always a plus.”
Haley got a riveting start to the race on Friday night, rocketing to second behind polesitter Grant Enfinger on the opening lap and appearing to have a truck that could contend for the title.
However, the handle on Haley’s No. 24 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet quickly went away, causing Haley to fade back through the running order as his machine got tighter and tighter.