The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East visited Watkins Glen International for their annual stop in the Finger Lakes Region of New York on Friday for the Great Outdoors RVs 100. An exciting finish pinned NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular Brett Moffitt against road course ace Will Rodgers. A last-lap pass put Moffitt in victory lane and ended Rodgers’ streak of road course wins.
After qualifying for the 41-lap race was cancelled due to weather, the field was set based on owner’s points, per the series rulebook. That put DGR/Crosley teammates Tyler Ankrum and Tyler Dippel side by side on the front row for the green flag. Ankrum jumped out to the early lead at the start, with Dippel falling in behind.
Dippel made a move to the inside of Ankrum and took the lead at the conclusion of lap 2, but Ankrum would not be denied going back into the right-handed turn one. Ankrum made his way under Dippel before Dippel got loose off of the corner and came down into the left rear of Ankrum’s machine, puncturing a hole in the nose of Dippel’s No. 54.
The yellow flag was displayed for the first time on the following lap for a car that was stopped at the exit of turn 6. Just before the caution flew, Brett Moffitt spun around in turn one, causing him to have to go to the back with front end damage.
When the race resumed, it was Ankrum keeping control of the top spot, but Will Rodgers was nipping at his heels after starting in the 17th position. Rodgers would take the lead away from Ankrum on lap 10, but his work wouldn’t be over yet. Erik Jones followed him past Ankrum after starting 25th.
Jones dogged Rodgers until lap 13, where he made a bold move past Rodgers into the bus stop. Jones and Rodgers set sail to a three second lead over Bubba Wallace in third when the yellow came out for Tristan Van Wieringen who spun off of turn 7.
Being close to the halfway mark of the race, officials decided that this caution period would be used for the halfway break and the field would come down pit road for pit stops. The field would be frozen on pit road and all drivers would get their spots on the track back as they came down. As the pace car passed pit road, Jones and Noah Gragson, who was in the fourth spot, followed as the rest of the field came to pit road. What appeared to be a miscommunication kept the two off of pit road, forcing them to have to pit once the race went back to green. This resulted in both drivers getting a one-lap penalty, taking both of them out of contention for the win.
Once Jones and Gragson came to pit road, Rodgers once again found himself back out front, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long. On lap 22, Brett Moffitt made his way back through the field and took the lead away from Rodgers. As the two battled for the lead, Moffitt visited pit road and relinquished the lead back to Rodgers. A yellow on lap 28 helped to save Moffitt’s race and catch him back up to the field.
Rodgers took off with the lead on lap 33 when the race resumed and appeared to be on his way to his fifth straight road course win as he pulled away from the field. As the remaining laps clicked down, Brett Moffitt had wheeled his way back to the front and challenged Rodgers for the lead. Rodgers slipped up coming to the white flag, allowing Moffitt to pull alongside. Into turn one, Moffitt completed the pass and held on to score the victory.
“It was certainly eventful,” Moffitt said of the race. “Ultimately we got kinda down at the beginning of the race and once we got back up to the lead we got grass in the grill and had to pit under green and then I really thought our day was over and everything just worked back out.”
Although Moffitt was there to win, he also had a goal of using the race to better prepare himself for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in a few weeks.
“Honestly this is in preparation for Canada in the Truck Series and I really think it was good. I got to run in the rain earlier, so we don’t know if we will have those conditions at Canada, but that was my first time doing that and I think I learned a lot today,” Moffitt said.
Rodgers settled for a second-place finish after leading much of the race. Unfortunately, one corner essentially cost him the victory.
“I think that if I hadn’t slipped, he would have been there and he would have had a chance to do whatever he wanted on the last lap somewhere similar to what I had at Sonoma a year ago,” Rodgers said about the closing laps. “The spotter was saying, and the crew chief was saying, get all you can get because the number one (Moffitt) is coming and I knew he was wicked fast. So I tried to outbreak myself a little bit into the second to last corner by about five feet, at least that’s what it seems like, and it was too much, got loose and chased it up.”
The next race for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will be at the Gateway Motorsports Park on August 24.
-By Evan Canfield, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos