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Local Sports

Iowa’s Moffitt wins M&M’s 200 on home track

Brett Moffitt delivered on Father’s Day weekend.

With a large number of family and friends in the stands, the Iowa native scored his second career win at Iowa Speedway when he drove his No. 16 Destiny Homes Toyota to victory in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series M&M’s 200 Presented by Casey’s General Store.

Moffitt, who qualified 16th, slowly worked his way up the field and was in seventh after Stage 1. He took over the lead for good at lap 125 and held off Noah Gragson at the finish for what he called “one of the biggest wins of my career.”

“To win here, in the truck series on a national level, it’s huge,” Moffitt said. “I don’t think people know the sacrifices we’ve made this year. This one is special.

“To do this on my home track with my family and with my sponsor, it’s the perfect storm and we are going to have fun with it.”

Gragson finished second and his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Harrison Burton was third.

Gragson made a late pass on turn 4 on the final lap but hit the wall in the process. Moffitt zipped by him for good after that.

“I was better than him there at the end. I was closing in on him,” Gragson said. “I had one shot to get him and couldn’t get it done.

“I want that trophy so bad. I just came up a little short.”

David Gilliland finished fourth and points leader Johnny Sauter scored another top-five finish in fifth. Sauter came into the weekend with four wins in the series’ first eight races.

John Hunter Nemechek, last year’s race champion, won the first stage but was involved in a four-car crash with Matt Crafton, Stewart Friesen and Ben Rhodes on lap 137.

Nemechek finished 27th.

Friesen won the second stage but finished ninth after the crash. Crafton and Rhodes wound up 26th and 17th, respectively.

Jesse Little finished sixth, Cody Coughlin was seventh, Christian Eckes finished eighth and Friesen and rookie Myatt Snider rounded out the top 10.

The crash on lap 137 pushed aside four contenders in the race.

Coming out of Turn 4, Crafton’s left front tire went flat, causing his No. 88 truck to slide up the track. He collided with Nemechek. Crafton’s teammate Ben Rhodes also sustained big damage to his truck in the wreck.

Friesen was caught up in the aftermath but avoided major damage.

Crafton, who started second, led 19 laps in the race. Friesen qualified fifth and led from lap 77 to 124. Nemechek, who also raced in Sunday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race, started eighth and led laps 51-64 and lap 76.

There were seven lead changes altogether. Eckes led laps 65-68 and Gragson was in front for laps 69-75.

Gragson started third and scored 47 team points. It was his sixth top-10 finish of 2018 and his second all-time at Iowa.

“We had a shot to win. Normally, we are disappointed in second, but I was smiling when I got out of the truck. It was a blast,” Gragson said. “It was a track position thing. If I was in front, I think we pull away by a few car lengths. It was just so hard to pass there at the end.”

Burton nabbed his career-best finish in the Truck Series with the third-place result.

The 17-year-old earned the first pole position of his NASCAR national series career. Burton finished Stage 1 in third but had to pit for a throttle issue under caution at the end of the stage that caused him to lose all his track position and start Stage 2 at the back of lead-lap cars.

Burton would rebound to finish Stage 2 in sixth.

“It was entertaining. I was trying all I could to do something to get us in better position,” said Burton, who is not a full-time truck series driver. “Experience in any car is experience you can use. That was good racing out there tonight. We need more short tracks like this.”

The late wreck paved the way for Moffitt, who grew up 45 miles away in Grimes. Gragson and Burton both closed the gap but couldn’t finish the deal.

“Obviously being my hometown race, it was really important to do well here,” said Moffitt, who scored his fifth top-10 finish of the season. “It was an uphill battle all night. We were frustrated with our qualifying run. But we had great strategy.

“I knew (Gragson) was faster at the end of the race. My only hope was he would overcook his last move. When I saw the move, I just stayed on the gas and was able to hold him off.”

And he did so on a night when his parents and several other family members and childhood friends were in attendance.

“My Dad has been my rock. If it wasn’t for him, I would have quit 10 times by now,” Moffitt said. “Under the circumstances, this will go down as one of the best victories in my life.”

Moffitt, who recorded his third truck series win in 22 career starts, and his crew chief Scott Zipadelli hope this win will set up him up for some kind of sponsorship the rest of the season.

“We have a lot to offer if someone wants to sponsor us,” Zipadelli said.

Sauter maintained his points lead in the series. He leads Gragson by 71. Moffitt closed the gap but is still 14 points back Gragson in third. Friesen moved into a tie for fourth with Grant Enfinger, who finished 11th on Saturday. Crafton dropped to sixth.

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