BRISTOL, Ten. — Brett Moffitt is already one step closer to defending his 2018 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series title.
After claiming victory in the UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Thursday night, Moffitt becomes the first to advance to the “Round of 6” in the 2019 NGOTS playoffs.
Moffitt held off Chandler Smith and Ross Chastain in the closing laps to secure the victory, taking six extra playoff points along to the next round.
Chastain was victorious in Stage 1 and collected one playoff point, while Moffitt took the green-checkered flag to win Stage 2.
The race was slowed 12 times for 73 laps, including the two cautions for stage breaks at laps 55 and 110.
At the beginning of the event, it looked like it would be an all-out battle between Moffitt and Chastain.
Moffitt started on the pole and led the opening ten laps, but Chastain took advantage on the first restart of the race, and led from lap 11 to the end of the stage.
At the beginning of Stage 2, Moffitt copied the move Chastain used to pass him, and took the lead back.
Chastain would not go quietly, as the two drivers battled through lap traffic, specifically behind the damaged, yet still competitive truck of Johnny Sauter.
After a few more lead changes, Chastain held the lead on the final lap of the second stage.
In Turns 3 and 4, Moffitt threw his truck in to the corner on the outside, and edged Chastain to the line to take the stage victory.
A “safety violation” penalty was handed to Chastain during the stage break pit stop, and relegated him to the back of the field. Grant Enfinger stayed out, and took over the race lead.
The final stage was a slug fest, as the race was marred by multiple cautions in the closing laps.
Incidents took its toll on many of the playoff contenders, Stewart Friesen and Matt Crafton collided on lap 152, but the two were able to fight back to fourth and seventh place finishes, respectively.
Chastain was also part of an incident at lap 176, involving Friesen and Raphael Lessard. Chastain rallied back to finish in third.
A red flag flew with 14 laps to go after an incident involving Natalie Decker, Tyler Dippel, and Gus Dean.
The final caution flew with seven laps to go when Sam Mayer, who won the K&N East race earlier in the day, hit the wall after contact with Ben Rhodes.
Moffitt led the field to the final green, and while the rest of the field fought for second, the defending champion pulled away towards victory lane.
— NASCAR Gander Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) August 16, 2019
With Moffitt locked in to the next round, Chastain leads the rest in the points heading into Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
Chastain is 25 points above the cutoff, while Friesen, Enfinger, Crafton, and Sauter also sit above the cut line.
Austin Hill and Tyler Ankrum leave Bristol Motor Speedway below the cutoff, by 3 and 13 points, respectively.
Two races remain in the “Round of 8”.
Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com