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Bridesmaid no more.
Carson Hocevar finally broke through for his first career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win at Texas Motor Speedway after a last-lap crash took out three of the top four drivers. After several second-place finishes and heartbreaking crashes from the lead, Hocevar broke down emotionally, this time triumphant.
Instead of Hocevar suffering heartbreak, it rookie Nick Sanchez, the polesitter and dominant truck of the day, felt the sting. Sanchez was side-by-side with Zane Smith on the final lap when Sanchez got loose and overcorrected (with minute help from Hocevar) into Smith, collecting Christian Eckes, who was running fourth at the time, in the process.
Sanchez’s 16th-place finish, combined with Hocevar’s breakthrough win, now leaves Sanchez as the driver people who wonder whose time will come after coming close to a win a couple of times now, just like Hocevar.
Chase Purdy finished a career-best second, followed by Stewart Friesen in third. Ty Majeski finished fourth, and rookie Jake Garcia finished a career-best fifth.
Top Storylines of the Race
- Nick Sanchez continued his impressive qualifying streak, winning his second pole in five starts. Outside of Atlanta Motor Speedway, Sanchez has never qualified outside the top five in his Truck Series career. Sanchez’s momentum allowed him to sweep the stages and lead the most laps (168) but came one lap short of that first career win.
- The series used non-competitive pit stops as it was the first standalone race of the season for the series.
- Dean Thompson had a career day, spending most of the race in the top five and 10. However, his race came to a grinding halt with 15 laps to go when he hit the turn 4 outside wall and came to rest right in front of traffic when he was slammed into twice by Matt Mills and Trey Hutchens III. The red flag was displayed to clean up the accident. Thompson was taken to the infield care center by ambulance and later to a local hospital for further evaluation. Fortunately, he was awake and alert in the care center.
- The end of the race was … something. We’ll talk more about it below.
- Among great finishes, Hailie Deegan captured a much-needed sixth-place finish after a subpar start to the season, while Ryan Vargas and On Point Motorsports came home with an impressive eighth-place result.
Hocevar finally locked himself into the playoffs with a win instead of pointing his way in. Seven spots remain in the playoffs with 11 races left. However, Majeski has taken the points lead away from Smith, as the las-lap crash left points on the table.
Despite Sanchez’s dominance on the day, Garcia earns Rookie of the Race for notching his career-best finish of fifth.
No. 2 – Nick Sanchez (16th)
No. 17 – Taylor Gray (24th)
No. 24 – Rajah Caruth (19th)
No. 30 – Ryan Vargas (eighth)
No. 32 – Bret Holmes (23rd)
No. 35 – Jake Garcia (fifth)
No. 41 – Chad Chastain (34th)
No. 43 – Daniel Dye (25th)
No. 46 – Armani Williams (29th)
Paint Scheme of the Race
While there were no schemes that really stood out this week, I finally want to take the time to shout out one of my favorite schemes that hits the track every week this season.
Thompson’s No. 5 has the perfect combination of blue and black that makes it look so good on track every week. If I could give a shoutout to all of TRICON Garage’s schemes, I would because the team had knocked it out of the park so far this season. But Thompson’s is definitely my favorite of the group.
Best wishes to Thompson for a speedy recovery.
One Thought About This Race
What on earth is happening at the end of these races?
Lately, all three of NASCAR’s premier series have seen a lack of respect in the closing laps due to the outlandish idea that anybody in the top-15 could win the race on a restart.
For the Truck Series, the problem is only enhanced by the impatience of younger guys who don’t have experience in two-lap shootouts. And it shows every weekend; this one was no different. On the restart following Thompson’s brutal crash, another major wreck ensued that took out at least five trucks and pushed the race into overtime. Then, Lawless Alan spun out and caused the race to go into a second overtime.
The last-lap crash only cements that the series needs more control when finishing these races. Maybe single-file restarts are the way to go. Maybe races need to end under caution in regulation to keep drivers safe. Either way, if a race comes down to a restart with under 10 laps to go, as the FOX booth said at Circuit of the Americas last week in the NASCAR Cup Series race, “It’s no longer racing, it’s survival.”
Drivers who have no business getting the finishes do happen. No disrespect to Purdy and Vargas, as they deserve the finishes they got, but they arguably should not have finished where they did because the attrition meant several more trucks were taken out of the race and desperation took over, leading the two of them to slip through the mayhem and finish well.
Will NASCAR step in and take action to prevent impatient desperation from taking over? Only time will tell.
Where to Next?
Time to sling some dirt.
The Truck Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway to take to the half-mile dirt track on Saturday, April 8. Coverage begins on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET.
About the author
Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022 and is the co-author of both Only Yesterday (Wednesdays) and Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he also pens a third column, the Tracking the Trucks race report. An Akron, Ohio native, he is a proud alum of West Virginia Wesleyan College.
You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.
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just watch the last 10 minutes instead of the whole race.
Anyone who’s blaming Hocevar for the finish needs to rethink things. Any time a driver overcooks the corner, bounces off the car on the outside, puts it offtrack, then pulls it back into traffic, should expect to get runover. This is all on Sanchez & Hocevar was really lucky not to get taken out.