Brett Moffitt opened the Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs by winning Thursday night’s UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The reigning series champion led 65 laps on the night and held off Chandler Smith to take his third win of the season and first at Bristol.
"To win and get locked in (to next round) is truly unbelievable," Moffitt said. "This is definitely the best win of the season thus far. We’ve got the next two races where we can go race aggressively and try to go get more points."
Smith’s runner-up finish was his career best in just his third series start driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
"He (Brett Moffitt) was just better all day," Smith said. "We needed just a little bit more to sit where he is right now. I can’t thank Rudy (Fugle, crew chief), I can’t thank KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports), iBUYPOWER, Toyota enough for this incredible opportunity. We’ve definitely made the most of it."
Ross Chastain, who won Stage 1, rebounded from a safety violation on a pit stop after the second stage to finish third. He led four times for a race-high 78 laps.
Stewart Friesen finished fourth after getting into the wall on Lap 151 while battling fellow playoff driver Matt Crafton for eighth.
"There wasn’t much contact really," Friesen said. "It is what it is and we race on. I respect the hell out of that guy. He’s a cool dude. We talked a little bit right there and it’s all behind us now."
Grant Enfinger, who lost the lead to Moffitt with 27 to go, made it four playoff drivers in the top five with a fifth-place finish.
"Great job by Jeff Hensley making a gutsy call getting us track position and we weren’t a bad truck when we had the lead," Enfinger said. " I don’t know what I would have done different on that restart, the 24 was just a little bit better on the top side. I thought about taking away the top side but we weren’t worth a crap up there. I stuck to the bottom that’s what worked for us and he flat out nailed that restart and got me."
Sheldon Creed, Crafton, Ben Rhodes and Todd Gilliland and playoff driver Austin Hill completed the top 10.
"I just fought tight all night long, but was able to get back through there and get to a top 10 and that’s kind of really all we were asking for was to get a nice top 10 out of here, especially knowing how this race goes," Hill said.
Playoff driver Johnny Sauter was able to finish 11th after two incidents in the race that damaged his truck, including one where he got loose and made contact with the No. 8 Chevrolet of John Hunter Nemechek on Lap 76.
"I just screwed up," Sauter said. "My guys deserve better than that. Eleventh is better than not finishing, I guess. It’s just frustrating when you think you have a truck capable of winning and you make the mistake."
Tyler Ankrum was not as lucky as he had a fuel pickup/electrical issue and stalled on Lap 171 after a pit stop. He finished 20th and is now 51 points behind Moffitt in the playoff standings.
"I came down pit road to make an adjustment, put new tires on and all of a sudden I dropped a clutch to go speed off and I just lost all power in the dash," Ankrum said. "They put a new battery in it. It seemed to fix it and at that point in time, we were already seven laps down."
The race featured 12 cautions for 73 laps.