Brett Moffit streaked into the lead on an overtime restart in Saturday’s Active Pest Control 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and pulled away to win the second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race of his career.
Diving to the inside and taking then-leader Myatt Snider and Johnny Sauter three-wide into the first corner on Lap 133 of 134, Moffitt beat Noah Gragson to the finish line by 1.326 seconds. Gragson charged from ninth to second on the penultimate lap and beat third-place finisher Johnny Sauter to the line by .014 seconds.
In a deal that came together late in the offseason, Moffitt signed with Hattori Racing after Ryan Truex opted to move up to the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Moffitt was the Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2015 but hasn’t had a full-time deal since then.
“It’s unbelievable to even be in a racecar at this point, let alone in victory lane,” Moffitt said. “We had a really good truck. Kyle (Busch) spun his tires a couple of restarts ago and put us back.
Kyle Busch had a dominant Toyota Tundra, but an apparent miscommunication on a late pit stop led to Busch leaving his stall before the left-rear tire was securely fastened and the tire falling off. Busch returned to his stall and got a new left-rear tire, but the mistake took him out of contention for the win.
“I was wide open for two laps there and I knew once I got clear I would be able to be wide open and thankfully they got side-by-side behind us and that opened up the gap even more,” Moffitt said of the final restart. “That’s a hell of a way to start the year right there.”
“But right at the end, the 13 (Snider) was a sitting duck, and I just needed a good restart. And hopefully they got into a battle behind us, which they did, and it’s pretty surreal.”
The victory was Moffitt’s first since he claimed the trophy at Michigan in 2016 in the fourth of six starts that year. And it was the first win for team owner Shigeaki Hattori, who was 0-for-43 in the Truck Series entering Saturday’s race.
Busch was on the verge of his 50th NCWTS victory when Josh Reaume crashed on Lap 125 of a scheduled 130 to cause the fifth caution of the race. With tires at a premium, the lead-lap trucks came to pit road under the yellow, but Busch left pit road with the lugs off his left-rear tire, which fell off as he pulled onto the apron off Turn 1.
Busch finished 21st, a lap down, after backing into his stall to correct the miscue.
Sauter, who won the season opener last week at Daytona, was disappointed with his third-place finish but didn’t think he could have done anything differently on the restart, which found him on the outside of the three-wide charge into the corner.
“I just feel like I’m going to beat myself up on this,” Sauter said. “But sitting here watching the replay, I don’t feel like I could have done anything different. When you have a shot to win, you’ve got to capitalize on it, and I didn’t do that.”
Ben Rhodes came home fourth and Matt Crafton fifth. Stewart Friesen ran sixth, and Snider, who took two tires on the pit stop before overtime, ran seventh. Sauter retained the series lead by 31 points over Crafton.
In addition to claiming the trophy, Moffitt is all but assured of advancing to the Playoffs.
“That’s a hell of a way to start the year right there,” he said.