Youth Movement On The Monster Mile – Moffitt wins at Dover; Truex wraps up 2nd straight K&N East title
DOVER, Del. — It was a pair of teenagers who conquered the “Monster Mile” like veterans Friday.
Eighteen-year-old Brett Moffitt picked up his second straight win at Dover International Speedway in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season finale Friday in the Sunoco 150. Ryan Truex, 18, clinched his second-consecutive championship simply by taking the green-flag and capped off his title run with a third-place finish.
Moffitt took advantage of a mechanical issue that sidelined his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Max Gresham on the first of two green-white-checkered attempts to inherit the lead, and then drove away from Corey LaJoie, 18, on the final restart to pick up his second win of the season and fourth of his career.
Moffitt became the first driver in the 10th appearance for the K&N Pro Series East at Dover to earn multiple wins on the “Monster Mile.” He won there last year driving for Andy Santerre Motorsports. The win, combined with an early exit from the race by Darrell Wallace Jr., secured the Grimes, Iowa native second place in the season’s final standings.
“This is phenomenonal. The win really hasn’t set in yet,” Moffitt said following the race. “When we saw the 6 car [Wallace] up in the wall, we knew that gave us second in points, which is one position higher from last year. When that happened, then that was just time for me to go, dig hard and have fun. Once that happened we just let loose.”
The runner-up effort was a career-best finish for LaJoie, who has run select races the past two seasons. He placed third at Dover a year ago.
“The second is almost a win – besides being the first loser,” LaJoie said. “We made lemonade out of lemons I guess you could say. Overall it was a great day because we didn’t have the car and we came home second.”
Truex, a development driver for Michael Waltrip Racing, put the championship out of reach with his win at New Hampshire last week. Unlike last season, when Truex was engaged in a tight points battle with Eddie MacDonald heading into the Dover finale, he was able to drive Friday with the pressure off. After qualifying sixth, he ran near the front all race and recorded his eighth top five finish in 10 starts.
“When you win one, it’s pretty tough. To go out and win two in a row with the level of competition this year with the Cup-affiliated teams and all the awesome drivers that have been coming into the series, it’s been a lot tougher this year than it was last year,” Truex said. “It was a lot harder-fought battle through the year. Every race was a struggle. You had to be on top of your game every lap, all race, all year.”
Truex also gave crew chief Mike Greci his fourth NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship. Greci won a pair of rings with driver Mike Stefanik in 1997 and ’98.
“The amount of top-three finishes and top-five finishes – with no DNFs – I think is pretty remarkable,” Greci said of Truex’s performance in 2010. “To win one championship is incredible, and to win one race is incredible, but to come out and win five out of 20 races and I think 14 or 15 top fives is pretty remarkable.”
Gresham won the 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Light earlier in the day. Despite occasional small puffs of smoke when he drove off the corners, Gresham was able to run up front and lead a race-high 85 laps. He was leading the race on the first green-white-checkered attempt when the engine finally let go. The final caution for major smoke coming out from underneath the car handed the lead to Moffitt.
Eddie MacDonald and Dale Quarterley rounded out the top five. It was Quarterley’s first race of the year, and first top-five finish since 2006.
IZOD IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick led three laps and finished sixth in her series debut. Brandon Ward, Sergio Pena, Kevin Swindell and D.J. Shaw completed the top 10.
The race featured eight lead changes among eight drivers.
Moffitt finished second in points, 134 behind Truex. Wallace ended up third in the standings, followed by Cole Whitt and MacDonald.
The Sunoco 150 will air on SPEED on Thursday, Oct. 7 at 6 p.m. ET.