Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: Talladega Packs a Punch for Many Drivers

Brett Moffitt took home a big win in the Craftsman Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, driving in a one-off event in a second Front Row Motorsports truck.

See also
Brett Moffitt Survives Carnage, Wins Talladega Truck Race

The 2018 champion avoided a huge block on the final lap by Christian Eckes and held off challenges from Parker Kilgerman, Chandler Smith and Ben Rhodes to take his 13th career win and first since 2020.

The 2018 champion is unsure of his 2024 plans, so the win is certainly a great audition for the team.

However, Moffitt was not the story. In typical Talladega fashion, the race devolved into anarchy. Things we’re heated after the race, too.

The Top Truckers at Talladega Superspeedway

Winner: Brett Moffitt
Polesitter: Chase Purdy
Stage One Winner and Most Laps Led (25 of 99 laps): Nick Sanchez
Stage Two Winner: Parker Kligerman
Rookie of the Race: Daniel Dye

Top Storylines of the Race

  • The race featured two quick red flags late in the event after some big crashes thinned the field. After the second one concluded, several laps were run under caution after Ty Majeski left the pit lane leaking oil and didn’t stop until he got to the backstretch.
  • Under caution for the end of stage one, a scary incident occurred on pit road when Zane Smith lost control of his truck and slid into his pit stall, making hard contact with his tire changer, Charles Plank. The contact was bad enough to damage the truck. While Plank helped finish the stop, Smith had to take his truck behind the wall with a clutch issue. He ended up finish 32nd, 44 laps behind Moffitt.
  • Sanchez had to overcome a bizzare pass-through penalty for a restart violation that didn’t involve jumping the restart, but rather laying back too long before taking off. He ended up getting caught in a late crash before finishing seventh.
  • Stewart Friesen and Greg Van Alst were taken to a local hospital for further evaluation after two separate wrecks. Friesen slammed the turn 3 wall with two laps to go in stage two in a crash that Tyler Ankrum and David Gilliland. Van Alst was swept up in a Big One with three laps of regulation left, slamming the tri-oval wall and destroying the front end of his No. 20. Both trucks are being sent back to NASCAR’s R&D Center for safety evaluations.

Championship Rundown

Smith’s penalty leaves him in a near-must-win situation, as he’s 31 points behind the playoff cutline. Majeski also lost a few points to the cutline after his crash.

See also
Zane Smith Leaves Talladega in Must-Win Scenario for Truck Title Defense

Meanwhile, just 11 points separate third through sixth in points, making it anybody’s guess as to who moves on to the championship with Corey Heim, who won the last race at Bristol Motor Speedway to punch his ticket to the championship.

With one race left in the Round of 8, here’s what the championship standings look like:

Rookie Report

Daniel Dye, fresh off of his announcement that he would be joining McAnally-Hilgemann Racing in 2024, backed that up with a career-best sixth-place finish, earning him Rookie of the Race.

No. 2 – Nick Sanchez (seventh)
No. 17 – Taylor Gray (18th)
No. 20 – Greg Van Alst (26th)
No. 24 – Rajah Caruth (12th)
No. 32 – Bret Holmes (16th)
No. 35 – Jake Garcia (29th)
No. 43 – Daniel Dye (sixth)
No. 61 – Jake Drew (20th)

One Thought About This Race

There’s no delicate way to put this: It might be high time for Matt Crafton to retire.

After contact with Sanchez ignited the big one that sent Van Alst to the hospital, Crafton angrily parked his truck in the No. 2’s pit stall and left.

After the race, Frontstretch caught the tail end of a fight in which Sanchez was on the ground. When he was brought to his feet by fellow driver Cory Roper, Sanchez, his face bloodied, yelled, “I’ll f—— kill you at Homestead [Miami Speedway]!”

While it was unclear who was also involved in the fight in the moment, it was later discovered that Crafton was the other party. According to Sanchez, he got blindsided with a sucker-punch after Crafton tapped him on his shoulder, prompting the 22-year-old to turn around.

This isn’t the first time Crafton has lost his temper this season. At Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, though it wasn’t caught on camera, reporters witnessed an irate Crafton walk up to teammate Rhodes, grab his firesuit and yell at him before walking away angrily.

At the time, Rhodes was really unsure about why Crafton was so angry, instead trying to de-escalate the conversation.

Crafton’s frustration likely stems from the fact that he’s only won two truck races in the last seven seasons – once in 2017 and once in 2020.

But therein lies the issue. The three-time champion hasn’t been able to produce the results he was once able to. And while he’s always had a fiery side to him, he’s lost his temper twice this season, with the most recent incident involving a nasty fight with someone under half his age.

Some fans are calling for Crafton to be suspended. If that happens, that could very well be curtains on his career. Crafton is 47 years old. By today’s standards, he’s already well past retirement age. One would assume he doesn’t intend on racing into his 50s.

See also
Blood, Sweat & Tears: Matt Crafton, Nick Sanchez Clash at Talladega

Somehow, in the age where everyone’s career is questioned with old age and when they will retire, Crafton has been able to avoid those questions. But after his fight with Sanchez, there might be even more people questioning why Crafton is racing at his age.

Nonetheless, Crafton took a cheap shot on an unsuspecting Sanchez, 25 years his junior. While NASCAR is reviewing the incident, it’s clear action needs to be taken.

And massive props to Roper for holding Sanchez back to prevent further conflict from arising, because that could have gotten ugly real fast.

Paint Scheme of the Race

Talk about a clean race truck.

Kligerman sported a nifty looking Tide Ride No. 75, decked out in orange, yellow and blue.

Kligerman won stage two and made a move for the win in turn 3 on the last lap, but had no help go with him and he ended up fading to ninth.

Next Stop

One more chance to make the Championship 4 in the Sunshine State.

The Craftsman Truck Series has two weeks off to regroup and prepare to head to Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 21. Majeski is the defending winner of the race.

Coverage for the Baptist Health 200 begins at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 21. The early start time is due to the doubleheader between the Trucks and Xfinity series. FOX Sports 1 will have the broadcast coverage.

About the author

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. He is a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Carolina Panthers, still hopeful for a championship at some point in his lifetime.

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

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Richard Hemenway

Well Hailie Deegan had a good race and finished 8. Oh before all you Hailie haters say a damn thing. It’s where you finish a race and not where you start. I for one sure hope that Hailie gets away from Thro racing.

Steve

Quite the asinine comments by this author about Crafton. This 20-year-old kid that you so staunchly defend wrecked half the field, putting many drivers’ safety at risk, including Crafton’s. Then he then gets out of his truck smiling because he ended up with a good points day like nothing happened. I would want to wipe that smug look off his face too. Even his spotter was telling him he made a boneheaded move. Sanchez deserved every bit of that ass kicking. Interesting that there is no video of the incident in this article. Coincidence?

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