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Ross Chastain didn’t make much noise at the front of the field throughout the night, but he was in the right place at the right time in the closing laps of double overtime at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Carson Hocevar and Ryan Preece restarted on the front row during the first overtime on Friday night (May 27) and made contact with each other on the backstretch. Hocevar then got loose through turns 3 and 4 and spun into Preece and the outside wall, taking both of them out of contention.
The leaders take each other out!!! pic.twitter.com/9v6rMjF1rj
— NASCAR Camping World Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) May 28, 2022
Through the crash, the seas parted for Chastain to take the lead for the final restart. He then held off Grant Enfinger, John Hunter Nemechek and Christian Eckes to score his fourth Truck win and his first since 2019.
When Chastain got out of his truck for his winning interview, the first thing he did was praise his teammate, Hocevar.
“Carson Hocevar and that No. 42 team, they dominated,” Chastain told FOX Sports 1. “Al Niece has given us trucks to come out here and fight for wins, and I hate it so much for Carson.
“I’m so proud of Carson Hocevar, I just want to say that over and over. That guy is a future star. He’s such a goofy kid, and I love him. He learned so quick. And he’s in the program that all the Chevy guys are in, and we learn together. We lose together. So, for Worldwide Express to come on board, oh my gosh. Dude, we won!”
Enfinger finished runner-up, and Nemechek extended his points lead with a third-place finish.
Eckes led the field to the white flag lap, but he had to settle for fourth when the checkered flag waved.
Preece pitted from the lead under the final caution due to a flat tire from contact with Hocevar; he made his way up to 11th in the final two laps.
Preece was not happy with Hocevar for the contact in overtime, and he made his displeasure known after the race.
“All you kids watching right now, wanting to get to this level, don’t do that,” Preece told FS1. “Race with respect. Don’t wreck the guy on the outside trying to win your first race.”
For Hocevar, it was another race that ended in heartbreak. He led a race-high 57 laps, and he had a six-second lead over Preece before a crash between Jesse Little and Tyler Ankrum with four laps to go brought out the caution and set the race up for overtime.
In 41 Truck Series starts, Hocevar’s best finish is second, thrice. Tonight’s race was the first time that he had led the most laps, and he was just one caution away from collecting his first win. The emotion set in Hocevar after the race’s conclusion, as he was visibly in tears after climbing out.
Through the emotion, Hocevar was also able to admit his shortcomings on the penultimate restart.
“A dumbass move by myself, I mean that’s it,” Hocevar told FS1. “It just sucks. I really hard, tried too hard. I didn’t get a good restart and just tried too hard, I tried to wash [Preece up the track], and I just crashed myself.”
"I tried too hard … I just crashed myself."
Talking with a disappointed Carson Hocevar after being so close to his first win at Charlotte Motor Speedway: pic.twitter.com/RXERxdabZP
— Josh Sims (@JoshRSims) May 28, 2022
Friday night’s race at Charlotte began with Ty Majeski taking the green flag. He held off a challenge from Busch to lead lap one before Zane Smith took the lead on lap 2. Majeski battled against Smith and led at the stripe on lap 9, but Smith quickly got back around him to lead lap 10.
From there on, it was easy cruising for Smith. Majeski never left his sights, but Smith won stage 1 and led 52 of the first 54 laps in dominating fashion.
A spin by Tate Fogelman brought out the first caution for an incident on lap 54, and split strategy ensued for the end of stage 2. Most of the field pitted for tires, but Derek Kraus and Rhodes did not pit and resumed the lead for the lap 58 restart.
On the restart, Kraus spun the tires, which allowed Rhodes to get a comfortable margin out front. But stage 2 was brought to an end on the same lap for a hard crash by Matt Mills, and Rhodes paced around the track to win the stage under caution.
Eckes inherited the lead under the stage 2 caution, and Preece quickly took the lead from him on the lap 66 restart. Preece’s time out front was short-lived, however, as Hocevar roared to the front and passed Preece for the lead on lap 72.
For the remainder of regulation, no one could touch Hocevar. Green flag pit stops began at around lap 95, and Hocevar pitted from the lead on lap 100. Before pitting, Hocevar had built up a six-second lead over Preece in just over 25 laps.
Green flag pit stops went without issue, and Hocevar cycled back to the lead on lap 107 with a four-second lead over Preece. The remained about the same for the next 10 laps until Hocevar then began putting more distance between him and the rest of the field; with 10 laps to go, the gap was once again up to six seconds.
At this point, all Hocevar to do was nurse it home and hope that the rest of the field kept their trucks pointed straight. But Hocevar’s luck ran out with the crash involving Ankrum and Little, and if he was going to win the first race of his career, it would have to come through overtime. But in heartbreaking fashion once again, it was not meant to be for Hocevar; his quest for victory will have to wait for at least another week.
Hocevar’s defeat turned into Chastain’s triumph, and he sealed the deal despite facing a tough battle with Eckes on the penultimate lap and a daring three-wide pass by Nemechek on the final lap. Chastain cruised through the final two turns to take the victory, and Niece Motorsports was victorious once again for the first time since Pocono Raceway in 2019.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will head to the St. Louis area next weekend for the 11th race of the season at World Wide Technology Raceway. The Toyota 200 Presented by CK Power will take place on Saturday, June 4, at 1:30 p.m. ET, with TV coverage provided by FOX Sports 1.
About the author
Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.
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