Brett Moffitt was an unhappy camper following Friday night’s Stratosphere 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.
Despite being passed for the win in the late going by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series invader Kyle Busch, Moffitt expressed no animosity toward either Busch or the NASCAR policy that allows Cup regulars to drop down and compete in the Xfinity and Truck Series. Moffitt’s unhappiness stemmed from difficulty navigating lapped traffic in the closing laps, including a door-banging session with Michel Disdier that allowed Busch to slip past and claim the lead.
“I respect Kyle a lot with everything he’s done,” said Moffitt after a disappointing third-place showing. “It’s fun to race door-to-door with him. People don’t like him coming and racing in the Truck Series, but I love it. Being able to run with him and learn off him is really good for my career and helps me out.”
He was critical of lapped drivers, however, saying, “It’s fun racing with (Busch) because he can drive. Half of them can’t.”
Moffitt’s unhappiness stemmed from a pair of scuffles with lapped cars in the final 25 laps. The first involved Myatt Snider – who had just returned to the track after serving a pit road penalty and falling two laps down -- and Michel Disdier, who banged doors with the leader while being lapped.
|Moffitt (16) hounded Busch to the finish.|
“When (Snider) pulled out from the pits a couple laps down and side drafted us for the lead, it allowed Kyle to close in,” complained Moffitt afterward. “I tried to go to the bottom of a lapped car (Disdier) and he turned down into us.”
Moffitt’s bid to regain the lead ended when Norm Benning – multiple laps down after being black-flagged by NASCAR for failing to maintain minimum speed earlier in the evening – crowded the runner-up’s line and broke his momentum.
“It’s frustrating because when you’re out of the race, you shouldn’t get in the way of the leaders,” said Moffitt, who locked himself into the NCWTS playoffs with a win two weeks ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “It’s just a bittersweet race.
“It was just uncalled for.”
While Moffitt’s anger is understandable, incidents like those experienced Friday night are not uncommon in the Camping World Truck Series.
As the lowest of NASCAR’s three national divisions, the Truck Series attracts drivers with less big-track experience than their Xfinity or Monster Energy brethren. At your local short track, the closing rate between leaders and lapped cars is relatively low. On a smoking-fast half mile like Las Vegas Motor Speedway, however, the difference between the “haves” and “have nots” can be as much as 20 mph.
Combined with a lack of experience, those sky-high closing rates can (and do) result in some anxious moments for race leaders; some of whom are also relatively low on the experience ladder.
In the aftermath of Friday night’s race, it would be easy to overreact. Some observers have done exactly that, calling upon NASCAR to black-flag all lapped machines with 20 laps to go, clearing the field for race leaders to compete unimpeded for the win.
Others have advocated for the sanctioning body to immediately disqualify any vehicle unable to maintain minimum speed; parking them for the day after a single infraction.
At the end of the day, however, no major changes are needed. Part of learning to race at the highest levels of the sport is learning how to deal with lapped traffic, and how to conduct oneself as a lapped vehicle.
Those skills don’t come from a rulebook. They are learned firsthand, on the race track.
And sometimes, mistakes are the best teacher.