CHICAGO, Ill. — Tuesday Brett Moffitt wasn’t sure he would be racing at Chicagoland Speedway. Tonight he was in victory lane.
Moffitt made a last-lap pass on John Hunter Nemechek when Nemechek ran out of gas in turn one on the last lap, taking the checkered flag and earning his third victory of the season and the fourth of his career.
“I don’t see a weakness in our team at all,” Moffitt said after the race. “Everyone is so motivated. Everyone has had to deal with what’s been a little bit of a distraction, I think once we fix that part we’re only going to get better to better.
Moffitt said there are currently three races the team is working to secure sponsorship at, including Bristol and Eldora. Crew Chief Scott Zipadelli said the team considered coming to Chicago and starting and parking if sponsorship couldn’t be secured, since Moffitt has qualified for the playoffs with what was two wins, now three after tonight.
“We have discussed many scenarios,” he said. “That was probably the least favorable one. At the end of the day, we probably would.”
“Gratefully, we didn’t have to make the decision because Fr8Auctions came on late Tuesday afternoon,” he continued. “I hope we don’t have to have that conversation again.”
So does the team have what it takes to win the title this season?
“Hell yeah,” Moffit said.
Hattori Racing is not one of the highest-funded teams in the garage, and Moffit said it is definitely coming to the track with a chip on its shoulder as it competes with the higher-funded entries.
“We’re a little team,” he said. “We don’t have the most stuff. We are the lone JGR Mark Conquest engine, so we’re the only true Toyota out there. To go out there week in and week out, I think there was maybe one race this season that I felt we didn’t have a race-winning truck.”
“I think we work together very, very well,” Moffitt said. “We do have a chip on our shoulder and we’re trying to prove something, and I think we’re going to.”
Nemechek coasted across the finish line for a seventh-place finish. He led a race-high 64 laps. Moffit led five times for 17 laps. Noah Gragson, who wound up fourth place, led 42 laps on the day, and Dalton Sargeant led 24.
Johnny Sauter came home with a third-place finish, extending his points lead to 65 points over Gragson.
Sauter said his truck was good on the short run, and he thought he’d have a good chance to make a run in the last run when the caution came out on lap 122. But Sauter’s jack broke on the pitstop, miring him back in traffic and forcing him to race back through the field for the third-place finish.
“The last pit stop the jack broke so we lost track position,” Sauter said. “We were good on short runs. I was looking forward to the last run.”
Sauter said despite his four wins so far this season, his GMS racing team has not changed its strategy much.
“Right now we just continue to go to the race track like we would,” he said. “Maybe we had a little different stuff in the back that we probably wouldn’t have run if it was the Playoffs.”
There were 17 lead changes among six drivers in the race, and six cautions for 29 laps.