LAS VEGAS — Brett Moffitt had every reason to be frustrated following the end of Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and he was, to an extent.
However, Moffitt was also enthusiastic following a torrid duel with Kyle Busch in the second half of the Stratosphere 200, one that almost handed the Iowa native his third-career victory and second in a row.
One week after winning at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Moffitt took his Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota to the front of the field again, leading twice for a combined 27 laps and going to war with Busch in a two-truck breakaway that Moffitt characterized as “wicked fun” for much of the closing stages.
“Man, it’s fun racing with him (Busch) because he can drive. Half of them can’t. It’s fun, because I respect Kyle (Busch) a lot with everything he’s done,” said Moffitt. “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, because being able to run with him there and learn off him is really good for my career and helps me out.
“Like I said, it’s just a lot of fun.”
The duo pulled out to as much as three seconds over the rest of the field as they sparred, with Moffitt making a bold inside pass of Busch in turns three and four to take the lead with 51 laps left, asserting control in a race that — to that point — had seen four and five-wide racing through the field and no one that was able to truly break away.
Moffitt led for 25 laps in succession, all while Busch looked high and low in an attempt to slip back by and both drivers danced delicately through slower traffic in the process.
Finally, though, traffic bit Moffitt and cost him his advantage out front.
Just as he’d pulled out to nearly a second over Busch, Moffitt got hung up trying to lap Myatt Snider and was pinned behind the slower truck of Michel Disdier in turns one and two.
Moffitt looked to Disdier’s inside and the two eventually made contact, damaging the right side of the No. 16 AISIN Toyota, breaking Moffitt’s momentum and allowing Busch to zoom past on the outside to a lead that he wouldn’t relinquish again, save for the final round of pit stops.
“When the 13 (Snider) pulled out from the pits a couple laps down and side drafted us for the lead, it allowed Kyle (Busch) to close in. I tried to go to the bottom of a lapped car and he turned down into us,” explained Moffitt. “It’s just frustrating.”
A caution for a spinning Disdier would eventually help Moffitt rebound, however, as he lined up fifth for the final restart with 11 to go and shot through the middle to come back out second behind Busch.
However, traffic would again plague Moffitt, as he had to break his momentum slightly while passing Norm Benning with four to go, falling back as far as fifth before rebounding to finish third at the checkered flag.
In that regard, Moffitt had little good to say about slower traffic after the race.
“When you’re out of the race, you shouldn’t get in the way of the leaders,” Moffitt said bluntly. “It was fun out there racing Kyle and we had a strong AISIN Group Toyota Tundra. It’s just a bittersweet race.”
“It’s kind of silly, in my opinion, to have lapped (trucks) running that slow and running two-wide when we (the leaders) are running 30 miles an hour faster and catching them in a pack. It’s uncalled for and someone’s going to get hurt.”
Moffitt leaves Las Vegas second in driver points, 39 behind leader Johnny Sauter, and second on the playoff grid by virtue of his win at Atlanta.