Carson Hocevar took the lead with 40 laps remaining in Friday night‘s NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Rackley Roofing 200 at Nashville Superspeedway and held off every challenge necessary in the closing laps — including a frantic push from his competitors on a re-start with three laps remaining — to earn his second career victory.
Hocevar held off reigning series champion, Front Row Motorsports‘ Zane Smith and Friday‘s polesitter Nick Sanchez by a slight .271-second margin in a tightly-contested final push toward the finish line among the trio. The win for the 20-year old driver of the No. 42 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet makes him the fourth multi-race winner of the season. And it‘s an impressive fifth consecutive Top-5 for Hocevar.
Ironically, Hocevar‘s first career win came after Smith and Sanchez wrecked at the front of the field on the final lap of double overtime at Texas Motor Speedway. This time, the only drama was the Michigan-native‘s impressive pace out front in the closing laps.
“I‘m so excited I can finally put that other to rest,” Hocevar said of the circumstances of his first win, adding, “And hopefully I can win a lot more races for them (Neice Motorsports).”
Hocevar‘s effort earned him not only the one-of-a-kind Nashville winner‘s guitar but also an extra $50,000 as part of the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series‘ Triple Truck Challenge program. He joins Ben Rhodes and Grant Enfinger as the three recipients of the three-race bonus money this season.
Corey Heim and Bayley Currey rounded out the top 5 on Friday. Heim led the most laps – 57 of the 150 on the night – and won Stage 2 in the No. 11 TRICON Garage Toyota. He also leads the championship by 16 points over Smith.
Although he missed out on his first trophy, it was still an impressive night for Sanchez, who earned his third pole position of the season.
In the opening laps, Sanchez and Rajah Caruth set the pace out front; the former ARCA competitors and NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduates running nose-to-tail and door-to-door throughout the opening stage. Sanchez, 22, led the opening 35 laps in his No. 2 Rev Racing Chevrolet. And after multiple spirited duels between the two, the 21-year old Caruth finally got around Sanchez on Lap 36 to lead his first career lap in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition – only to slow and have to pit his No. 24 GMS Chevrolet a lap later and relinquish the lead. He returned to the race many laps down and ultimately settled for a 32nd place finish.
The opening stage concluded in similar drama when Smith got by Sanchez in the closing laps to claim his second stage win of the season.
“At the end of the day, it was a good points night, but I‘d be lying if I said I wasn‘t disappointed,‘‘ Sanchez said.
Chase Purdy, Matt DiBenedetto, Tyler Ankrum, Ben Rhodes and Jake Garcia rounded out the top 10.
It was a tough day for veteran Stewart Friesen, who was involved in two incidents that brought out caution periods. He dropped from ninth to 11th in the standings with only three regular season races remaining to set the 10-driver Playoff field.
Sanchez‘s effort at Nashville combined with Friesen‘s tough-luck night moved the Miami rookie into that all-important 10th place position with a six-point advantage on Friesen.
The series takes a week off and resumes with some road course racing July 8 – the O‘Reilly Auto Parts 150 at Mid-Ohio at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (1:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
— NASCAR Wire Service —