CONCORD, N.C. — After leading 57 laps, Carson Hocevar finally had his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory in his sights. He let races at Bristol and Darlington slip earlier in the season, but this race seemed different.
Hocevar qualified for Friday’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 in fourth and finished Stages 1 and 2 in the same position. On Lap 72, shortly after the restart to commence Stage 3, Hocevar jumped out to the lead. He increased his margin over Ryan Preece by several seconds and had a commanding lead after a late pit cycle.
But, with four laps to go, Jesse Little and Tyler Ankrum crashed to bring out a caution and set up a green-white-checkered finish. Hocevar chose to restart on the inside lane in front of teammate Ross Chastain instead of the outside lane, which was predominant for most of the night.
On the restart, Chastain spun his tires and Hocevar throttled ahead without any help. He maintained even with Preece, who restarted on the outside, all the way down the backstretch. In Turn 3, Hocevar drove in too deep and he crashed, suffering major damage. Preece also suffered damage and pitted during the caution for a blown tire.
“I should have taken the top knowing that old tires was probably going to be the way,” Hocevar told the media after the race. “Everybody spun the tires, and just trying really hard and tried to wash [Preece] up a little bit and get him tight and I crashed myself… It was my own fault.”
Preece finished 11th and wasn’t happy with Hocevar 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 of you trying to win your first race — it doesn’t get you anywhere.”
Hocevar heard Preece’s comments after the race and responded: “If he wants the high praise of young drivers with no respect, I just spanked his ass. I waxed him. He was the next best, but I put it to him. I messed up. I made a mistake. I obviously wasn’t trying to crash myself and obviously crash him. I just tried to use him up a little bit… The young kid always gets put down and bias because he’s the young kid or the rich kid or the money kid. It always is that. It’s never just two racers driving hard.”
Chastain, Hocevar’s Niece Motorsports teammate, won the race for his fourth career Truck Series victory.
“Carson Hocevar won this race,” Chastain said in his post-race media conference. “He’s so good at 19 years old and a future star in this sport. Probably coming for my job or somebody else’s. It’s amazing to me that he’s 10 years younger than me and he’s doing things that I’m learning from him.”
Hocevar fell to 16th place and recorded 35 points on the night. He sits eighth in the Truck Series points standings.
“It’s hard to win these races,” Hocevar said. “I didn’t execute… It hurts. The last few times, we haven’t been the best truck, and [Friday], it was unheard of to be that good.”
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns Saturday, June 4 at World Wide Technology Raceway.