- Lap 25
POS 1 | LEADER
POS 2 | 0.271
POS 3 | 0.308
Carson Hocevar holds off Zane Smith for Nashville Truck Series win
LEBANON, Tenn. — 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 restart 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 0.271-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 fourth consecutive top five for Hocevar.
Interestingly, 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 (Niece 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 bonus money this season.
Corey Heim and Bayley Currey rounded out the top five 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 teammates and NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduates ran 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 due to a fuel pressure issue. 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.
Ty Majeski, who entered Friday’s race at Nashville just one point behind Heim for the Truck Series points lead, also suffered a mechanical woe that put the No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford numerous laps down, ultimately relegating Majeski to a 31st-place finish.
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).
Note: Post-race inspection concluded at Nashville without issue. The No. 15 Toyota was found with one lug nut loose. The Nos. 2, 16 and 38 trucks will be taken back to the NASCAR R&D Center.