Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: Is It Time To Pull The Plug On Hailie Deegan? Lawless Alan Might Say Yes

Carson Hocevar notched his second career win and second of the season at Nashville Superspeedway, holding off Zane Smith and a hard-charging Nick Sanchez in doing so on Friday, June 23.

Hocevar took the lead on a restart from the outside lane with 40 laps to go and never looked back, though he had to survive a late restart to hold on. The win earned him and Niece Motorsports an extra $50,000, as the race was the last in this year’s Triple Truck Challenge bonus program.

Smith finished second, barely beating out Sanchez, who came home third. Corey Heim finished fourth, while Bayley Currey impressed all night, rounding out the top-five finishers.

Top Storylines of the Race

  • 2022 ARCA Menards Series West champion Jake Drew made his Truck Series debut, becoming the third driver to pilot ThorSport Racing’s No. 66 this season. He gained some stage points and finished a solid 12th.
  • Roper Racing team owner Cory Roper made his season debut behind the wheel after Kaden Honeycutt and Johnny Sauter split time in the truck. Roper was suspended at the beginning of the season for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy.
  • Nick Leitz returned behind the wheel of Young’s Motorsports’ No. 20 for the first time since being handed a 25-point penalty at Kansas Speedway for an illegal window net. That put Leitz dead last in points, sitting with negative nine after jumping on board with this team midseason. After spending several weeks below zero, he finally got back on the plus side by posting a respectable 19th-place finish.
  • Sanchez won his third pole of the season and had a spirited battle with Rajah Caruth and Smith for the stage one victory. After Caruth pulled ahead and led his first career lap in the Truck Series, he immediately faded with fuel pressure issues, forcing him behind the wall for more than 30 laps. Meanwhile, Smith got the better of Sanchez to take the stage victory.
  • Then, Heim won stage two under caution when rookie Daniel Dye slid through turn 2 and clipped the No. 02 of Layne Riggs. Bret Holmes tried to avoid Riggs, who didn’t hold the brake, but ended up making contact and ending the night of his No. 32 team.
  • A problem for Dean Thompson resulted in no qualifying lap for him and his No. 5 team, but he still drove a magnificent race to get inside the top-15 positions at one point with the TRICON Toyota. However, contact with Christian Eckes with 46 laps remaining saw Thompson back his truck into the wall, ending that brilliant run to the front with his seventh DNF in 13 starts.
  • Currey’s fifth-place finish capped off a career weekend for the Texas native. After qualifying second behind Sanchez, he ran top five most of the night, including battling for the lead with Heim in stage two and leading his first career lap.

The Winning Move

Thompson’s crash brought out the second-to-last caution of the night. While Smith hadn’t been a consistent frontrunner, he had a bad fast truck, and it seemed like it was going to be difficult to get around the No. 38 in the closing laps.

But on the restart, Hocevar made the outside lane work, powering around Smith and checking out to a lead as big as two and a half seconds at one point. It seemed like Hocevar’s race to lose from there until a caution for contact between Eckes and Stewart Friesen set up a three-lap shootout for the win.

Among the takers on pit road was Sanchez, who drove his way all the way up to third on the final restart, battling Smith for second. However, neither driver had enough to catch Hocevar as he cruised to win number two.

Championship Rundown

Hocevar’s win means that a maximum of nine drivers can lock in with wins, meaning points racing just became a big necessity for those who are looking to punch a playoff ticket (and there are several).

Ty Majeski continued to struggle, as an electrical issue forced him behind the wall for several laps. That marks his fourth finish outside the top 25 in his last six races. Meanwhile, Heim’s stage two win and subsequent fourth-place finish allowed him to keep the point lead.

At the cutline, Sanchez moved into the 10th and final spot in the playoffs as they run. That spot was formerly occupied by Matt DiBenedetto, but he earned some much-needed stage points and is now sitting 14 points above the cutline. Friesen’s trouble throughout the night (he spun out earlier in the race before his crash with Eckes) bumped him out of the playoffs, and he now sits as the first driver out, just six points behind Sanchez.

Meanwhile, the absolute last cutline there could be, should there be three new winners in the next three races, is between Majeski and DiBenedetto. Majeski currently has a 72-point gap on DiBenedetto, and an 86-point gap over Friesen, but the No. 98 team needs to get the ship turned around, or else we will be talking about a major collapse resulting in this team missing the playoffs.

Expect more jostling for position to come; just 53 points separate DiBenedetto in eighth and Chase Purdy in 13th. The playoff fight is far from over.

See also
Carson Hocevar Survives Late Restart to Win Nashville

Rookie Report

While Sanchez and Taylor Gray led the rookies almost all night, a top-five finish for Sanchez after winning the pole earns him Rookie of the Race. Meanwhile, Caruth leaves Nashville wondering what could have been had he not experienced fuel pressure problems.

Shoutout to Jake Garcia for coming home quietly in 10th; it’s another impressive run for the No. 35 team.

No. 02 – Layne Riggs (27th)
No. 1 – Toni Breidinger (17th)
No. 2 – Nick Sanchez (third)
No. 17 – Taylor Gray (14th)
No. 20 – Nick Leitz (19th)
No. 24 – Rajah Caruth (32nd)
No. 30 – Jonathan Shafer (24th)
No. 32 – Bret Holmes (34th)
No. 33 – Chase Janes (26th)
No. 35 – Jake Garcia (10th)
No. 43 – Daniel Dye (22nd)
No. 46 – Memphis Villarreal (35th)
No. 66 – Jake Drew (12th)

One Thought About This Race

Is it time to pull the plug on Hailie Deegan?

There was massive hype around Deegan a few years ago when she moved up from the ARCA Menards Series West to the ARCA Menards Series. After a less-than-stellar, but still solid career in the main ARCA division, she moved up to the Truck Series, spending two seasons with David Gilliland Racing (now TRICON Garage) before moving to ThorSport Racing in 2023.

The move to ThorSport should have been the break Deegan needed as DGR wasn’t exactly a consistently fast team in either ARCA or the Truck Series. ThorSport has two champions in Ben Rhodes and Matt Crafton, along with the highly fast Majeski. Both Rhodes and Majeski were in the hunt for the championship last season.

However, Deegan has shown no improvement in 2023. She has just one top-10 finish, a sixth at Texas Motor Speedway, and in 13 races, she has eight finishes of 20th or worse; her last three races have ended in finishes of 28th or worse. At Nashville, she had her second run-in of the season with Lawless Alan on just the fifth lap of the race, ending the latter’s night just five laps later. The crash also collected Jack Wood.

Alan didn’t mince words about the incident when talking with Frontstretch.

It’s safe to say the hype around Deegan has faded. Her constant run-ins with fellow competitors have drawn the ire of several, and the fact that all her teammates are in the top 10 in points, while she’s fighting to stay inside the top 20, leads one to believe that the driver could very well be the problem.

Deegan did show some promise in her lone NASCAR Xfinity Series start last season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where she finished 13th in an SS-Green Light Racing car, so maybe that’s the direction she should go. Otherwise, she could be in danger of losing a ride altogether because of poor performance, putting her NASCAR career in jeopardy altogether.

Wacky Moment of the Race

If you are a regular reader of this column – thank you, firstly – but secondly, you’ll recognize that this is not a regular segment of this column. However, there was one particular moment of the race that was just too crazy to not give its own special feature.

Following Alan’s second crash on lap 10, as the trucks were pacing around the field, FOX Sports cameras picked up a phone with a Clemson University phone case sitting on the racetrack at the exit of turn 2.

It’s the second time in the last month that the AMR safety team has had to retrieve a phone. During the NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, Michael Waltrip discovered he had lost his phone, which was then found by the AMR crew. This time, the phone belonged to Tim Silva, crew chief for Villareal.

“I dropped my head and thought, ‘My wife is gonna kill me,’” he told Frontstretch while holding the phone up for reporters to witness. Villareal had already gone behind the wall at that point, which is how Silva retrieved his phone so quickly.

I’m sure every single person in the garage the rest of this weekend, and maybe the rest of the season, will be checking their pockets to make sure they have their phone before the cars/trucks roll off the grid.

Paint Scheme of the Race

Just a friendly reminder that the author of this column’s favorite color is green. When a team runs a green paint scheme, it tends to have the advantage.

Drew and the No. 66 team brought a brightly colored green truck to the track this weekend with sponsor Capstone Green Energy.

In a way, it reminds me of the bright green Winfield colors that Dakoda Armstrong used to run. This truck looks really good.

Where to Next?

We’re off to the Buckeye State to make some left and right turns.

The Truck Series gets another off-week before heading to Lexington, Ohio on July 8, where the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course awaits the Truck Series. Parker Kligerman is the defending winner of this event.

The green flag for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 150 will fall shortly after 1:30 p.m. ET with television coverage provided by FOX Sports 1.

About the author

Frontstretch.com

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. 

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

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14 Comments
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StreetHawk

My thoughts on Deegan. She might have had a chance had the NASCAR marketing machine not hyped up the expectations way beyond reason and made it possible for her to move up before she was ready. NASCAR set her up to fail by constantly hyping her up. She’s young, pretty, handles herself on camera pretty well and had at least a little talent, so they acted like she’s the next huge star and found ways to push her up the ladder too fast. Maybe she would have never been ready, maybe she would have been good.

That’s not to relieve her of any responsibility. It’s on her for accepting these moves before she was ready. But how many of us, especially at her age could be offered the opportunities she has had over the last few years and politely declined in order to keep running at the level where she was discovered? I probably would have followed the same path as a young kid if it had been offered.

Last edited 11 months ago by StreetHawk
Jeremy

While I don’t disagree, an argument could be made that opportunity doesn’t knock twice very often. Opportunity seldom comes along at the ideal time in our lives. Tough decisions have to be made. Especially in racing today, if a seat/opportunity opens up I think you pretty much have to jump in it.

John D Wyckoff

So your sort of saying Alan deserves to be in a truck than Deagan. Well Mr, Backmarker shouldn’t be talking about someone else driving when your average finish is no better than 24th or 25th.As far as Deagan is concerned it could said that her teammates jut ay getting the better equipment. As far as the hype, there good number of drivers getting the same and not living up to it.

Jill P

Lawless Alan brings out at least one caution every race. He has no right to complain about another driver.

George W Montour

No she needs a little more time ,and a better pit crew.

Scott

Deegan needs to go to the cars trucks just aren’t her thing

Roger

Now that would be a great example of failing up. Doesn’t make sense.

Burford Mindlesloop

Every week Deegan auditions for a ride in late models.

Steven

She stinks. Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then, but she hasn’t. Her teammates blow her away every race with the same equipment.

Paul

Hailie deegan only needs to get rid of codependant BF+STOP SCREWING AROUND making Videos+eat+sleep NASCAR BABY..LOL

longjohn119

If Deagan is out of trucks how are you going to create Click Bait headlines?

Last edited 11 months ago by longjohn119
SilverSmith24

Sounds like the writer has a beef with her and will use her as clickbait as often as possible. Hype or no hype she is doing better than others so it’s time to be patient and stop the bashing.

Bill B

LOL…. “pull the plug”.

Daniel Carr

I would say it is up to the owner of her team . Why aren’t you asking about the other drivers who finish behind her .

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