Hometown hero Moffitt dodges daring move by Gragson for Iowa victory

NEWTON, IA - JUNE 16: Brett Moffitt, driver of the #16 Destiny Homes Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series M&M's 200 presented by Casey's General Store 200 at Iowa Speedway on June 16, 2018 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

NEWTON, Iowa — Heat and humidity. Three-wide action. One race-changing wreck — and a rousing triumph for a local favorite.

The wild, competitive and unpredictable M&M’s 200 Saturday at Iowa Speedway certainly showcased the drama the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series delivers from week-to-week.

But once the dust settled and the sun sank low in the sky, a relative sense of calm swept over speedway veteran Brett Moffitt.

Why relative?

Because Moffitt — who grew up on Iowa dirt tracks before climbing NASCAR’s ranks — had to hold off a hard-charging Noah Gragson in a furious finish that featured sparks from Gragson’s No. 18 after a failed last-gasp slingshot attempt sent him into the wall as the Iowan sailed under the checkered flag.

“This is everything,” said Moffitt, who led the final 76 laps. “Being in my home state on Father’s Day weekend — my dad has done everything for me in my career and been my rock my whole life.”

Gragson still took second and polesitter Harrison Burton surged through adversity to take third.

“Video game style racing there,” Gragson said. “It’s fun racing at this track. I drove it in there. … just overshot a little bit.”

There were shots, knocks, and seismic shifts through the three-stage 200-lap event.

The race’s complexion changed completely when a crash on lap 135 doomed four top contenders.

Coming out of Turn 4, Matt Crafton’s left front tire went flat, causing his No. 88 truck to slide up the track. He then collided with John Hunter Nemechek — last year’s race winner at Iowa.

“There’s really nothing you can do there,” Nemechek said after being evaluated and released from the infield care center. “I hate it for all my guys. … We were really fast.”

All four involved in the incident were.

Three of the four had previously led laps before the accident. Crafton paced the field for 20 laps. Nemechek led 15 and won stage one. Friesen ran out front for 48 laps while winning stage two.

None of that mattered as they headed to the garage, though, and Moffitt, of Grimes, Iowa — about a 45-minute drive from the speedway — took the lead at the restart and thrived in clean air as Gragson and Burton eventually chased him down within passing distance.

Moffitt prevailed, though, earning his second win of the season. He also gained ground on Gragson in the point standings. Johnny Sauter — who settled for fifth — leads Gragson by 71 points. Moffitt’s another 14 points back and praised his talented, if cobbled-together team that’s seeking additional sponsorship to help fund the remainder of the season.

“We didn’t know if we were going to Texas and we’re still uncertain about Chicago,” Moffitt said. “So we really need some more sponsors on this truck.”

What was his impromptu victory lane pitch, besides winning?

“This is just such a great group of guys,” Moffitt said. “Everybody’s so passionate. We work really hard. We’re not the biggest team but we proved tonight that we’re the best. I think we can have some more wins this season and go to Victory Lane a few more times — and more importantly, compete for a championship.”

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race Results M&M’s 200 presented by Casey’s General Store

Iowa Speedway

Newton, Iowa

Saturday, June 16, 2018

1. (16) Brett Moffitt, Toyota, 200.

2. (3) Noah Gragson, Toyota, 200.

3. (1) Harrison Burton, Toyota, 200.

4. (12) David Gilliland, Toyota, 200.

5. (7) Johnny Sauter, Chevrolet, 200.

6. (13) Jesse Little, Ford, 200.

7. (14) Cody Coughlin, Chevrolet, 200.

8. (9) Christian Eckes, Toyota, 200.

9. (5) Stewart Friesen, Chevrolet, 200.

10. (17) Myatt Snider #, Ford, 200.

11. (15) Grant Enfinger, Ford, 200.

12. (27) Justin Fontaine #, Chevrolet, 200.

13. (22) Tanner Thorson, Chevrolet, 199.

14. (18) Austin Hill, Chevrolet, 199.

15. (19) Austin Self, Chevrolet, 199.

16. (6) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 196.

17. (11) Ben Rhodes, Ford, 195.

18. (26) Cory Roper, Ford, 195.

19. (10) Dalton Sargeant #, Chevrolet, 195.

20. (30) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, 194.

21. (28) Wendell Chavous, Chevrolet, 191.

22. (31) Jennifer Jo Cobb, Chevrolet, 173.

23. (23) Jordan Anderson, Chevrolet, Engine, 153.

24. (29) Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, Engine, 152.

25. (32) Bobby Reuse, Chevrolet, Suspension, 136.

26. (2) Matt Crafton, Ford, Accident, 135.

27. (8) John Hunter Nemechek(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 135.

28. (20) Reid Wilson, Chevrolet, Overheating, 109.

29. (4) Todd Gilliland #, Toyota, Accident, 102.

30. (24) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, Suspension, 56.

31. (21) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, Brakes, 50.

32. (25) JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, Brakes, 19.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  89.936 mph.

Time of Race:  01 Hrs, 56 Mins, 45 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.333 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  6 for 44 laps.

Lead Changes:  7 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   H. Burton 1-30; M. Crafton 31-50; J. Nemechek(i) 51-64; C. Eckes 65-68; N. Gragson 69-75; J. Nemechek(i) 76; S. Friesen 77-124; B. Moffitt 125-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  B. Moffitt 1 time for 76 laps; S. Friesen 1 time for 48 laps; H. Burton 1 time for 30 laps; M. Crafton 1 time for 20 laps; J. Nemechek(i) 2 times for 15 laps; N. Gragson 1 time for 7 laps; C. Eckes 1 time for 4 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 8,88,51,52,21,18,24,16,25,46

Stage #2 Top Ten: 52,8,16,18,13,51,97,21,54,88

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.