Brett Moffitt held on to win in his Craftsman Truck Series return at Talladega Superspeedway. Moffitt made a three-wide move on the final lap to pass Christian Eckes and Chandler Smith, holding off Smith in the tri-oval to secure the victory.
“It’s pretty awesome. I’ve notably struggled coming to superspeedways in the past and dreaded coming to them,” Moffitt said after the race. “This was an all-pressure-off situation […] just reminds me of the good old days and I want to get back to doing this on a regular basis.”
Moffitt’s win breaks a streak of four straight first-time winners at Talladega in the series.
Polesitter Chase Purdy led the opening five laps until a bad block left him alone in the middle. While Purdy drifted back, Nick Sanchez took control of the field. Parker Kligerman, with help from Purdy, charged to the front to battle for the stage win, but Sanchez held on to win stage one, grabbing some much needed stage points.
A scary incident occurred on the first round of pit stops when Zane Smith had an issue getting into his pit box. The No. 38 truck slid sideways and the right rear slammed into team tire carrier Charles Plank.
While the hit damaged the truck, Plank was OK and even did a TV interview. Smith’s problems continued and he ended up going to the garage, putting him in a must-win situation.
While Carson Hocevar made his presence at the front felt, Kligerman and Sanchez stole the show, taking the lead late in the second stage. With two to go in the stage, the first accident of the day occurred entering turn 3.
A tap from Christian Eckes sent Stewart Friesen into Tyler Ankrum, with David Gilliland spinning further back. This yellow ended the stage with Kligerman in the lead and Sanchez earning more stage points, finishing second.
Though Friesen climbed from his truck, the driver of the No. 52 was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.
A mixed bag of pit strategy placed a new cast of characters at the front of the field to start the final stage. Tanner Gray led the field until a trio of Sanchez, Purdy and Eckes pushed the outside line to the front.
Another caution flew on lap 52 when Taylor Gray got spun off turn 2, triggering a multi-car accident that involved two playoff drivers, Ty Majeski and Grant Enfinger, as well as Ankrum and Matt Crafton.
On the next restart, NASCAR penalized Sanchez for laying back. While Sanchez made a pass-through penalty, Xfinity regulars Moffitt and Chandler Smith battled for the lead with Purdy.
To include every caution that occurred before the end of the race would result in this recap turning into a short book. The final caution, however, flew with three laps left. The Big One unfolded when Crafton and Sanchez made contact in the middle of the pack, resulting in a large accident that involved 14 trucks and led to the final overtime restart.
After this incident, Greg Van Alst was also transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.
After the race, Sanchez was involved in a fight in the garage area that resulted in a bloodied face.
When the dust settled, Enfinger and Rhodes sat just behind the cut line, well within reach of making the championship race but still in danger of elimination with one race left in the round. By earning 19 stage points, Sanchez currently holds the fourth and final spot. Majeski slid further back, riding 19 points below the cut line, and Zane Smith is in a must-win situation.
The Craftsman Truck Series will conclude the Round of 8 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on October 21. The Baptist Health 200 will start at 12 p.m. ET on FS1.
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