KANSAS CITY, Kan. – After four runner-up finishes and a host of near-misses during the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season, Brett Moffitt put all the pieces together at the perfect time Saturday afternoon at Kansas Speedway.
Moffitt came on strong late in the Clean Harbors 200 and outlasted a battle with his GMS Racing teammate, Zane Smith, to win at the 1.5-mile Kansas City oval and secure a spot in the Championship 4.
It marked his 12th Truck Series win in his 79th start and first victory since Aug. 25, 2019 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
The Grimes, Iowa native and 2018 Truck Series champion only led 15 laps, but that included the last lap of an overtime-extended race which went five circuits beyond its scheduled distance.
Most of the day, the event looked like it would belong to Sheldon Creed, who led a race-high 61 laps and swept the first two stages with a dominant Chevrolet Silverado.
But the handling on Creed’s truck went away as the final stage wore on, causing him to fade before the last round of pit stops as Moffitt and Smith rose to the head of the pack.
A slow stop on Smith’s No. 21 allowed Moffitt to leapfrog him on the race track, with Moffitt cycling to the lead at the conclusion of the green-flag cycle with 18 to go in regulation.
But Smith wasn’t done. He came charging back on the outside and then dove past Moffitt to retake command on lap 124, appearing to have made the winning move as Moffitt began searching for speed.
Moffitt found what he was looking for on the extreme high lane of the race track, catching Smith coming to three to go and completing the pass coming out of turn two.
When Smith tried to cross back underneath Moffitt, the latter came down to block, making contact with Smith that sent the California young gun into a long, smoky slide entering turn three.
Smith was able to continue, but his chance at the win was scuttled at that point.
Moffitt, meanwhile, held off Creed on the overtime restart to take the win, but accepted responsibility for the incident with Smith after the race and offered an apology to his teammate.
“I’ve got to apologize to the 21 (Smith) for trying to block him, but we’re racing hard for a championship spot,” Moffitt noted. “It was my fault. I mean, he got around me there in lap traffic when we caught the 38 (Todd Gilliland) and then I just put it on the line to try to run him back down and we got there, and I just tried to throw a bad block. I apologize to those guys and Zane, and I know that’s not going to fix it, but hopefully they go out and win next week.
“To win is pretty incredible, though, and such a way to turn the season around for our (No.) 23 team,” Moffitt added. “All our local partners that have been with us for so long; it has been a long time since I got to victory lane in Iowa. So this is pretty incredible, like I said. … Thanks to everyone at GMS, the Gallagher family. Excited to race for a championship for all of them.”
Austin Hill was third behind Moffitt and Creed, with Grant Enfinger and polesitter Chandler Smith filling out the top five.
Hailie Deegan finished 16th in her Truck Series debut, the highest finish by a female driver making their debut in series history.