NEWTON, Iowa – Ross Chastain went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in a matter of minutes following Sunday’s rain-postponed M&M’s 200 presented by Casey’s General Stores at Iowa Speedway.
After appearing to have won the race in a dominant rout and moving to within a whisker of making the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series playoffs, Chastain’s No. 44 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado was found to be too low in the front during post-race technical inspection at the track.
As a result, Chastain was officially disqualified from the event, elevating Moffitt – who originally crossed the finish line in second for GMS Racing – to his first Truck Series victory of the season.
Chastain becomes the first driver in a NASCAR national series to be fully disqualified from an apparent win since April 17, 1960, when Emanuel Zervakis’ Cup Series victory at Wilson (N.C.) Speedway was thrown out due to an oversized fuel tank on his No. 85 Chevrolet.
“We have a procedures and rules in place, and the Trucks are restricted on their ride heights at the front and rear of the vehicles. Unfortunately, the 44 (Chastain’s truck) was low on the front, extremely low,” Truck Series managing director Brad Moran told NBC Sports of Chastain’s Chevrolet. “We have a process of what happens at that point. They do get an opportunity to roll around. They put fuel in the vehicle, they air the tires. (We) give them at least five to 10 minutes. (Then we) check them a second time.
“Unfortunately, the 44 did not rise on the front at all.”
Sunday afternoon’s win is Moffitt’s second in a row at Iowa and the eighth of his Truck Series career.
Moffitt also collects the $50,000 bonus for winning the second leg of the Triple Truck Challenge, while Chastain receives last place points and loses the stage and playoff points he would have earned as well.
Niece Motorsports has the option to appeal the disqualification in an expedited process, and team owner Al Niece indicated that they will do so before next weekend’s race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
“Our Niece Motorsports team works hard to ensure that our race trucks are within the confines of NASCAR’s rules, and both of our Chevrolets passed opening and pre-race inspections,” said Niece. “We believe that the No. 44 sustained minor damage during the event which left the truck too low following the race.
“We will appeal NASCAR’s decision, and regardless of the outcome, this team will be prepared to go to Gateway and win again.”
Moffitt never led a lap on Sunday, but placed heavy pressure on Chastain throughout the closing stage of the 200-lap race. He made a charge to Chastain’s back bumper with 40 to go, but faded off the Niece Motorsports Chevrolet in the closing laps and ended up 2.717 seconds adrift of the apparent winner.
However, Chastain’s post-race heartbreak becomes Moffitt’s jubilation, as he moves from solidly into the playoffs on points to locked in with a victory and in position to defend his series championship.
Ben Rhodes becomes the new second-place finisher, with Harrison Burton tying his best finish of the season in third. Grant Enfinger and Stewart Friesen completed the top five.
Sheldon Creed was sixth, followed by Matt Crafton in seventh.
Rookie Chandler Smith started from the pole and led the first 55 laps of his Truck Series debut, despite a lack of radio communication with his team, but was hampered by a speeding penalty during the second stage break that relegated him back as far as 17th.
The 16-year-old Georgia native drove back through the field and ended up finishing eighth. Two of his Toyota teammates, Raphael Lessard and Todd Gilliland, closed the top 10.
Because Chastain also lost his stage wins by virtue of the disqualification, Crafton and Rhodes were elevated to the victories in the first and second stages, respectively.
The on-track action in the final stage was punctuated by a crash with 63 to go, after contact between Johnny Sauter and Austin Hill while racing inside the top 10 led Hill to retaliate, sending Sauter into the wall and leaving his No. 13 with race-ending damage.
Sauter drove back around the track, got into Hill under caution and shoved the No. 16 Toyota up to the outside wall. Sauter was parked for the day by NASCAR officials, while Hill finished 12th.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.