That was just one of many words uttered when the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Series concluded their season on Friday night at Phoenix Raceway.
With five laps remaining, of 150, Brett Moffitt was checked out in his No. 23 Chevrolet for GMS Racing. So far out the trophy engraver could have started cutting Moffit’s first name into the face plate.
But, when the checkered flag waved after a green/white/checkers finish, the “B” became “S” for his GMS Racing teammate Sheldon Creed in the No. 2 Chevrolet.
Moffit was, indeed, checked out on the field seemingly headed for another Truck championship. However, young Dawson Cram in his No. 41 Chevrolet was spun on the backstretch with three laps remaining.
Three…that’s all Moffitt needed to finish the race and hoist the sought-after trophy. Now, the caution waved and slowed the pace of the race.
The debate was now on pit road. Pit, and give up track position to take two or four fresh tires. Stay out, and take your chances on older rubber.
Before the final caution, Grant Enfinger was the fastest Truck on the track, but trailed Moffitt by four seconds. That is a huge deficit to overcome anywhere.
He opted to stay out for the G/W/C telling his crew chief they had nothing to lose at this point. They raced their way into the Championship 4 by winning Martinsville, and they were ready to do the same again to win it all.
He and Moffitt both elected to stay out while other contenders Creed and Zane Smith hit pit road for four new Goodyears. The gamble paid off, big time.
Restarting the G/W/C in the front row, Moffitt was quickly disposed of by Trucks going past on the inside and outside. Enfinger got tapped from behind and passed by the No. 51 of Chandler Smith.
As this was going on, Creed, who had restarted eighth, divebombed the entire field in front of him low side and was now third. Going through Turns 3 & 4, he stayed low and passed them both.
Also joining Creed in the low-side divebomb was Smith. He followed Creed through the field and passed Enfinger and C. Smith, as well.
At the stripe, a very jubilant Creed took the checkered flag, the trophy and championship.
“I thought my teammate (Smith) was going to win the championship and we were going to run third,” said Creed, standing next to his Truck on the frontstretch. “We were just too loose there as we went on. The caution came out and Jeff (Stankiewicz, crew chief) and I were talking, and we had nothing to lose.
“The worst we’re going to run is fourth. Let’s put tires on it.
“I pride myself on my re-starts week-in and week-out, I just nailed that restart right there. They were racing really hard. I was driving as hard as I could. I wanted this so bad. I was just driving as hard as I could and I knew if I did, I’d have a shot.”
He truly shot his shot and now has his named etched in the NASCAR record books as a Champion.
Smith was understandably dejected after the race. The rookie driver got into the Playoffs with his two wins and maintained a good pace to make the Championship 4.
While he knows this wasn’t his year and felt “disgusted” afterward in regards to finishing second, he does know his future is bright as he signed with GMS to race for them next year. It also helps by claiming the 2020 Rookie of the Year honors for the Truck Series.
“I’m happy for Sheldon, but nothing hurts worse than being the first loser,” were Smith’s immediate comments after the race.
Enfinger, who was on rails before the final caution, ended up finishing in 13th place after the final two laps of shuffling ended.
“We just couldn’t go on a short run,” he said. “We had good speed on a long run, but just couldn’t pass after that. So, we got off sequence and that worked. (Jeff) Hensley (Crew Chief) was leaning towards tires at the end. I was leaning against it just to do something different, and we ended up staying out.
“That cost us. It just is what it is. We didn’t have quite the short run speed to legitimately contend tonight. I’m going to try and not be too sad leaving here because it’s been a great year. It’s just unfortunate the way it turned out tonight
“I’m proud of these guys, it just didn’t work out tonight.”
After winning Stage 2 and being so close to winning the race and championship, Moffitt didn’t mince words during with his post-race comments after finishing 10th. And, understandably so for someone looking to claim a second championship.
“Race strategy has been a downfall for us all year, for sure,” Moffitt said. “We’ve thrown away multiple wins because of it. It’s frustrating to lose a championship because of it.”
“I don’t even know what I’m doing next year. This year’s been hell on and off the race track. I don’t know. It’s been a tough year in my personal life with everything that happened. (referring to broken legs during the COVID 19 shutdown)
“Having a bad year on track certainly doesn’t help that at all. Honestly, I’m just glad it’s over with.”