Talk about perfect timing.
With a huge run through the final two corners, Brett Moffitt surged past Johnny Sauter right before the finish line at Michigan International Speedway to win Saturday’s Corrigan Oil 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race by .025 seconds.
Trailing Sauter at the white flag, Moffitt backed off in Turn 1 to create a gap between his No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota and the No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet of Sauter. Moffitt charged into Turn 3, pulled even to the inside of Sauter’s truck as they rolled the corner and won a drag race to the finish line.
Moffitt picked up his second victory at Michigan, his fourth of the season –tying Sauter for the series lead — and the fifth of his career.
“Pretty amazing this little team’s gone to Victory Lane four times this year,” Moffitt said. “The whole last however many laps I was behind (Sauter), I would get to him, but I would push him with that air bubble between our bumpers.
“So I tried to back up (Turn) 1, let him get out there a little bit, and I knew the 8 (Polesitter and third-place finisher John Hunter Nemechek) was behind us — I was hoping he would actually get to us and be able to push us. But we were able to play it right and time it right, and, man, it’s just great to get here.”
Sauter had taken the lead on Lap 88 of 100 when he surged past both Moffitt and eventual fifth-place finisher Todd Gilliland. The disappointing finish left Sauter second-guessing himself.
“They said ‘Clear by three (car-lengths)’ coming off (Turn) 2, and I kept watching the mirror,” Sauter said. “I just felt like, if I ran the middle, I’d keep momentum up. I felt like when I went to the bottom, I was bogging a little bit.
“But I screwed up. No ‘ifs,’ ‘ands’ or ‘buts’ about it. I should have run the bottom, but I do feel like maybe he would have squirted to the top. Sitting duck, kind of — for sure. You know he’s planning a run, but you just don’t know when… Pretty ticked at myself for giving away a win.”
Sauter wasn’t the only one. Stewart Friesen led 12 laps in a strong No. 52 Chevrolet, but his fueler drew a penalty for pushing the truck after handling the fuel can during the final pit stop under caution on Lap 80, sending Friesen to the rear for a Lap 84 restart.
Friesen fought his way back to eighth at the finish.
Noah Gragson ran fourth, followed by Gilliland. Ben Rhodes, Grant Enfinger, Friesen, Justin Haley and Matt Crafton completed the top 10. Sauter retained the series lead by 56 points over Gragson.
Moffitt’s victory ensures that at least two drivers will qualify for the NCTWS Playoffs on points — good news for Enfinger and Friesen, who are third and fourth in the standings, respectively. Crafton, who is sixth, will clinch a Playoff berth if no one outside the top eight in the standings wins next Thursday at Bristol.
Given his 53-point edge over Crafton, Enfinger can clinch a Playoff spot simply by starting the race at Bristol.
Note: The No. 4 KBM truck of Gilliland had one lug nut found to be unsecure in post-race inspection.