Hocevar’s Heartbreak Clears the Way for Ross Chastain to Collect the Win

The Camping World Truck Series rolled in to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the first time in the 2022 campaign on Friday night. Ty Majeski and Zane Smith made up the first row, followed by Kyle Busch and Carson Hocevar on row two, then Ross Chastain and Tanner Gray on row three.

Coming into the tenth race of the season, John Hunter Nemechek has the points lead by a slim four point margin over Ben Rhodes. Meanwhile, by virtue of his series best three wins, Zane Smith currently holds the number one seed in the playoff picture.

Speaking of the playoff picture, things are uncharacteristically dull toward the bottom of the grid. Currently, Matt Crafton holds the tenth spot in points, followed by Tanner Gray, who trails the veteran by a fairly significant 35 points. Behind Gray are Derek Kraus (-57), Matt DiBenedetto (-67), and Tyler Ankrum (-68).

In a race that had a few non-regulars – Ryan Preece, Ross Chastain, and everyone’s favorite Truck Series driver Kyle Busch- it looked like the series regulars would dominate the day, particularly Zane Smith and Christian Eckes early, and Carson Hocevar late. While Ryan Preece and Ross Chastain ran very solid races, riding in the top-5 pretty much all day, Kyle Busch was essentially a non-factor the entire race – not that I imagine many Truck Series fans are complaining about that.

However, despite the series regulars dominating all day, it was cup series star Ross Chastain who ultimately collected the win – the fourth Truck Series win of his career. Chastain collected the win after his Niece Motorsports teammate Carson Hocevar, who dominated the entire second half of the race, wrecked on the first of two green white checker attempts following contact with Ryan Preece.

As it happened:

The race’s opening stage saw 31 laps of mostly drama-free green flag action. Zane Smith and Ty Majeski separated themselves from the rest of the field. On the final lap of the stage Ty Majeski caught race leader Zane Smith, but couldn’t quite complete the pass, allowing Smith to collect his fifth stage win on the year.

Stage 1 Results:

  1. Zane Smith
  2. Ty Majeski
  3. Ryan Preece
  4. Carson Hocevar
  5. Ross Chastain
  6. Kyle Busch
  7. Matt DiBenedetto
  8. Christian Eckes
  9. Matt Crafton
  10. Grant Enfinger

Stage break pit stops saw Stewart Friesen and Kyle Busch receive penalties on pit road, with Zane Smith and Ty Majeski maintaining the top two spots.

After running green for the majority of the second stage – and with the field mostly holding serve with their stage one performances – Tate Fogleman spun by himself in turn four with eight to go in the stage, bringing out the first incident caution of the day.

The entire field save for Derek Kraus, Ben Rhodes, and Timmy Hill headed to pit road, where Ryan Preece won the race off pit road, followed by Christian Eckes. Smith and Majeski came out third and sixth respectively, the latter losing four spots after his pit box entrance was blocked by another truck.

The race restarted with three to go in the stage, but Derek Kraus on old tires held up the outside line, causing a stack up through the whole field. That stack up eventually caused Matt Mills to make heavy contact with the outside wall after being turned by Jack Wood. The caution froze the field, allowing Ben Rhodes to receive a great payoff on his strategy call to not pit with a stage win.

Stage 2 Results:

  1. Ben Rhodes
  2. Christian Eckes
  3. Ryan Preece
  4. Carson Hocevar
  5. Zane Smith
  6. John Hunter Nemechek
  7. Ross Chastain
  8. Matt DiBenedetto
  9. Ty Majeski
  10. Derek Kraus

The race’s final stage kicked off with Christian Eckes and Ryan Preece on the front row – Zane Smith, the dominant truck all day to that point, rolled off fifth. Preece used a push from John Hunter Nemechek to jump out ahead of Eckes into the lead. After a few laps however, Carson Hocevar ran Preece down and took the lead, and began to set sail on the field.

Green flag pit stops took place with between 30-40 laps to go, with Carson Hocevar holding onto a four second lead over Ryan Preece. Matt Crafton, Jesse Little, and Timmy Hill all tried to run long and catch a caution, but to no avail. When green flag stops were completed, Hocevar was able to cycle back out to to the lead with 28 laps to go, followed still by Ryan Preece by about a 3.5 second margin. Eventually, Hocevar stretched his lead to as big as six seconds.

Despite looking like it would be an easy win for Hocevar, unfortunately, a backmarker did what backmarkers do as the 02 of Jesse Little drifted up the track into the 16 of Tyler Ankrum, turning him into the outside wall and prompting a caution. The final restart of the race saw Carson Hocevar starting on the inside, with Ryan Preece on the outside.

In an absolute heartbreaker that makes me not even want to finish writing this, Hocevar and Preece got together on the backstretch, and again in turn four coming to the white flag, the second round of which caused Hocevar to spin and make heavy contact with the outside wall, costing him another shot at his first career win

Ross Chastain and Christian Eckes made up the front row on the final restart, and an exciting final lap saw Grant Enfinger give the ailing machine of Ross Chastain a huge push down the back stretch, allowing him o clear John Hunter Nemechek to collect the win – a nice consolation for an assuredly heartbroken Niece Motorsports team.

Final Results:

  1. Ross Chastain
  2. Grant Enfinger
  3. John Hunter Nemechek
  4. Christian Eckes
  5. Zane Smith
  6. Tanner Gray
  7. Kyle Busch
  8. Chandler Smith
  9. Stewart Friesen
  10. Ben Rhodes
  11. Ryan Preece
  12. Derek Kraus
  13. Ty Majeski
  14. Colby Howard
  15. Chase Purdy
  16. Carson Hocevar
  17. Matt DiBenedetto
  18. Matt Crafton
  19. Kris Wright
  20. Tyler Ankrum
  21. Timmy Hill
  22. Lawless Alan
  23. Jack Wood
  24. Spencer Boyd
  25. Austin Wayne Self
  26. Max Gutiérrez
  27. Hailie Deegan
  28. Dean Thompson
  29. Tate Fogleman
  30. Blaine Perkins
  31. Josh Reaume
  32. Jesse Little
  33. Keith McGee
  34. Matt Mills
  35. Brennan Poole

Published by Walker Skeeter

Walker is a 4th year climatology PhD candidate at the University of Delaware. Despite being a climate scientist, Walker has been a NASCAR fan for over 20 years! His favorite drivers are Bubba Wallace, Tyler Reddick, and Alex Bowman in cup, and AJ Allmendinger, Tommy Joe Martins, and Ryan Vargas in Xfinity. Outside of racing, he enjoys talking about (and studying) the weather, watching Baltimore sports, and playing video games.

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