Moffitt Wins Richmond Thriller

Brett Moffitt

Moffitt celebrates in Victory Lane at Richmond. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Brett Moffitt edged Chase Elliott in a drag race to the line following a green-white-checkered finish to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Blue Ox 100 Thursday at Richmond International Raceway.

A three-way battle between Moffitt, Elliott and Corey LaJoie developed just after the final restart, and on the white flag lap it turned into a two-horse race that saw Moffitt just nip Elliott at the line. The margin of victory was .011 seconds.

From Grimes, Iowa, Moffitt earned his eighth career victory with the Blue Ox 100 checkers. In his fourth year in K&N Pro Series East action, Moffitt has shown an ability to perform best in the largest venues. Of those eight wins, six have come on tracks where NASCAR’s national series compete.

Moffitt started Thursday’s race on the pole – the fifth of his career – and led the first 71 circuits before swapping the lead with Ryan Gifford four times. On the Lap 82 restart Gifford was involved in an incident and Moffitt regained a lead he would not relinquish. He led a race-high 92 laps in total.

“Chase Elliott and Corey LaJoie were both really fast at the end – and Ryan Gifford through the middle of the race – they really have me a run for my money, but we were able to hold on out front and bring home the money,” Moffitt said.

For Elliott, the runner-up effort was the best finish of his young K&N Pro Series East career, now with just 15 starts. He also took the points lead by four over teammate Ben Kennedy and nine over LaJoie. LaJoie finished third, as he did at Richmond in 2011.

“I’ve won races like that, and I’ve lost them – like tonight – but it’s going to come full circle and that’s part of it,” Elliott said of coming up just short in the photo finish. “I was doing all I could to get the win and I would like to have tried a little bit harder. I really wanted that one, but I feel like if we can keep running like this that we’ll get one.”

Rookie Kyle Larson was fourth and Brandon Gdovic fifth.

Kennedy, Bryan Ortiz, Eddie MacDonald, Sergio Pena and Michael McGuire brought home the rest of the top 10.

At 15 years and 11 days old, Jesse Little became the youngest driver in K&N Pro Series history to participate in a race. He finished 11th in his series debut.

Preparing to make their NASCAR Nationwide Series debuts on Friday night at Richmond, Ryan Blaney and Travis Pastrana finished 22nd and 23rd, respectively. Both spent most of the night running in the top 10 before separate late-race incidents.

Gdovic moved to fourth in points and Larson is fifth. Larson is one of three NASCAR Drive for Diversity drivers in the top 10, joined by his Rev Racing teammates Ortiz (seventh) and Gifford (eighth). The win moved Moffitt up to sixth, while previous points leader Darrell Wallace Jr. – the 2011 Richmond winner – dropped out of the top 10 with a 28th-place finish.

The Blue Ox 100 saw eight caution periods for 35 laps with one red flag. It marked the second time in three events this season that the race concluded with a green-white-checkered finish.

With the victory, Moffitt secured a locked-in starting position for the inaugural UNOH Battle at the Beach during 2013 Speedweeks on a temporary short track at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

The K&N Pro Series East will return to action with the Iowa 150 presented by Graham Tire Company on May 19 at Iowa Speedway in Newton.

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