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For the second time in his career, and the second time this season, Carson Hocevar is a winner in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Hocevar snuck in front during the final stage, then survived a late restart on older tires to prevail in the Rackley Roofing 200 Friday, June 23 at Nashville Superspeedway.
“I’m so excited I get to hold a trophy…” Hocevar told FOX Sports after the win. “[Owner] Al Niece, I hope he lets me drive the truck for a long time because I want to win a lot of races for him.”
It’s the first time Hocevar led on the white flag lap and reached victory lane in NASCAR’s top three divisions. He won Texas Motor Speedway earlier this year by leading just one lap after an accident wiped out a dominant performance by Nick Sanchez.
The value of winning a NASCAR Truck event this time after running out front most of the night – Hocevar led a total of 40 laps – was not lost on this 20-year-old up-and-comer.
With Bayley Currey ending up fifth, it’s the first time Niece Motorsports put two trucks inside the top-five finishers since the Daytona International Speedway season opener way back in 2021.
How’d Hocevar do it? After hanging around the top five much of the race, his No. 42 WWEX Racing truck got around Corey Heim for the lead on a lap 111 restart, then led the final 39 laps from there. However, it didn’t come easy for him down the stretch. A caution with 10 to go bunched the field back up, bringing a hard-charging Zane Smith in the No. 38 door to door with Hocevar for a restart. They were among just six trucks who stayed out on old tires with the rest of the field, including teammate Currey, taking fresh rubber and ready to pounce on the final restart.
However, Hocevar scooted away again when the green flag dropped with three laps left, a long caution limiting the chances of others to move up. Smith had to settle for second, just inches ahead of pole sitter Sanchez in third – a driver who simply ran out of time on those fresh Goodyears.
“Maybe one more lap,” Sanchez said in terms of what he needed to pass Hocevar. “Maybe two.”
The Rackley 200 got off to a slow start with two cautions early on, the first due to a three truck incident in turns 3 and 4. Hailie Deegan in the No. 13 got loose under the No. 45 of Lawless Alan, sending both trucks into the outside wall. The No. 51 of Jack Wood was also collected, as he would pile into Alan’s No. 45 with nowhere to go. On the ensuing restart, damage from the accident would send the No. 45 truck into the turn 1 wall, ending Alan’s night and leaving the driver livid at Deegan’s early aggression.
“I don’t think there’s much to say,” Alan said. “She’s talentless and just sailed it off in there and wrecked me… I don’t understand what the move was about … she does it to f***ing everybody.”
After the restart, there was an epic battle through lapped traffic between pole sitter Nick Sanchez in the No. 2, Rajah Caruth in the No. 24, and later Smith as well. Caruth would finally get around Sanchez on lap 36, but his truck would slow just a straightaway later with fuel pressure issues. Smith would get around both trucks and go on to win stage one over Sanchez and Currey; Caruth would wind up limping home 32nd, some 31 laps off the pace.
“I’m just pretty speechless,” Caruth said afterwards. “Really sucks… I don’t know what happened.”
Point leader Corey Heim in the No. 11 would get the lead in the pits, then took off from the field on the following stage two restart. Heim would be challenged by Currey, who would lead one lap (lap 62) before giving the lead back to Heim. He’d hold it until Stewart Friesen spun off turn 4 all alone on lap 85, bringing out the caution late in the stage. While almost all of the leaders would pit, Matt DiBenedetto would stay out gambling for stage points.
DiBenedetto would hang on for third as the night’s most serious wreck unfolded: Daniel Dye would spin off turn 2 on lap 93, ending the stage under yellow. In the process, Dye’s No. 43 would tag the back end of Layne Riggs’ No. 02, sending his truck spinning down the backstretch. With nowhere to go, Bret Holmes would slam into the side of the No. 02, destroying the front end of his self-owned No. 32.
Heim would take the stage two win under caution, putting himself in position out front in the final stage until Hocevar gained both the speed and track position he needed. When Dean Thompson got loose under the No. 19 of Eckes, causing a caution, Hocevar had his chance to sneak ahead of both Heim and Smith, setting sail from there.
“Struggled with restarts all night on the initial launch,” Smith said after having to settle for runner up. “Once this place really rubbers up, it becomes so bad with dirty air. Ultimately, [Hocevar] had cleaner air than us, and that’s what got him the win.”
Stage two winner Corey Heim brought the No. 11 truck home fourth, with Currey tying his career best of fifth. Chase Purdy wound up sixth for Kyle Busch Motorsports, DiBenedetto ran seventh, Tyler Ankrum eighth, Ben Rhodes ninth and Jake Garcia rounded out the top 10.
The Truck Series is back in action in two weeks’ time, going road course racing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The O’Reilly Auto Parts 150 will be live at 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday, July 8, with coverage on both Fox Sports 1 and MRN.
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