Ross Chastain capitalized through two overtime attempts and a late incident involving teammate Carson Hocevar and Ryan Preece to fend off the field and win the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday, May 27.
The 29-year-old Chastain from Alva, Florida, led twice for four out of 143 over-scheduled laps as he overtook Christian Eckes on the final lap during the second of two overtime attempts before fending off Grant Enfinger to win in his fourth scheduled NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start of the season with Niece Motorsports as he also claimed his first triumph at Charlotte.
With on-track qualifying to determine the starting lineup occurring on Friday, Ty Majeski earned his second career pole after posting a pole-winning lap at 178.312 mph in 30.284 seconds. Joining him on the front row was Zane Smith, who posted a fast qualifying lap at 178.277 mph in 30.290 seconds.
Prior to the event, Hailie Deegan and Austin Wayne Self started at the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments to their respective trucks.
When the green flag waved and the race started, Majeski received a huge push from Kyle Busch to assume command ahead of Zane Smith before being locked in a side-by-side battle against Busch for a full lap. When the field returned to the start/finish line, Majeski edged Kyle Busch to lead the first lap before Busch pulled ahead entering the backstretch. Not long after, Kyle Busch came under pressure from Zane Smith through Turns 3 and 4 as he challenged Busch for the lead, which he prevailed as the field behind jostled for positions.
By the fifth lap, Zane Smith was leading by four-tenths of a second over Majeski and Kyle Busch while teammates Carson Hocevar and Ross Chastain battled in the top five.
Through the first 10 scheduled laps, the top-five competitors were separated by a second as Zane Smith continued to lead ahead of Majeski, Kyle Busch, Hocevar and Chastain. Ryan Preece was in sixth place, trailing by nearly two seconds, followed by Christian Eckes, Matt Crafton, Matt DiBenedetto, and Tanner Gray while Chandler Smith, Grant Enfinger, Stewart Friesen, John Hunter Nemechek, and Ben Rhodes were in the top 15.
Ten laps later, Zane Smith continued to lead by nearly a second over Majeski while Kyle Busch, Hocevar, and Chastain remained in the top five.
Five laps later and as the leaders approached lapped traffic, Majeski narrowed his deficit to Zane Smith to three-tenths of a second. Smith, however, was able to navigate his way through the traffic that included Hailie Deegan to maintain the lead. Behind, Ryan Preece, Hocevar, and Chastain overtook Kyle Busch for positions as Busch was back in sixth in front of Christian Eckes.
Despite being pressured by Majeski in the closing laps of the first stage, Zane Smith was able to fend off Majeski to claim his fifth stage victory on Lap 30. Majeski settled in second followed by Preece, Hocevar, Chastain, Kyle Busch, DiBenedetto, Eckes, Matt Crafton, and Enfinger.
Under the stage break, the leaders pitted for adjustments and Zane Smith managed to retain the lead after exiting pit road first ahead of Majeski, Preece, Hocevar, Eckes, and DiBenedetto. During the pit stops, Stewart Friesen and Brennan Poole were penalized for speeding on pit road along with Dean Thompson and Kyle Busch, both of whom were penalized for having a crew member jump over the wall too soon.
When the second stage started on Lap 36, Zane Smith managed to retain the lead while Preece made his move into the runner-up spot as the field jostled for positions. Behind, Chastain got loose while battling DiBenedetto entering Turns 3 and 4, but he managed to straighten his truck as he remained in seventh ahead of Chandler Smith.
By Lap 40, Zane Smith was ahead by more than three-tenths of a second over Majeski, who moved back into the runner-up spot a lap prior, followed by Preece, Eckes, and Hocevar while DiBenedetto, Chastain, Nemechek, Tanner Gray, and Chandler Smith were scored in the top 10.
Ten laps later, Zane Smith continued to lead by four-tenths of a second over Majeski, who continued to pressure the former for the top spot. Preece, Hocevar, and Eckes were in the top five followed by Nemechek, Chastain, DiBenedetto, Gray, and Enfinger while Chandler Smith, Colby Howard, Derek Kraus, Crafton, Kyle Busch, Tyler Ankrum, rookie Jack Wood, Chase Purdy, Kris Wright, and Ben Rhodes were in the top 20.
Another two laps later, the caution flew when Tate Fogleman made contact with the outside wall in Turn 4 before sliding his truck down towards the pit road entrance. During the caution period, nearly the entire field led by Zane Smith pitted while Derek Kraus, Rhodes, and Timmy Hill remained on the track.
With three laps remaining in the second stage, the race restarted under green. At the start, Rhodes took off with the lead on the inside lane followed by Preece and Eckes while Kraus spun the tires on the outside lane. As the field stacked up and fanned out entering Turn 1, the caution returned when Jack Wood and Matt Mills collided against the outside wall in Turn 1.
The incident involving Wood and Mills concluded the second stage scheduled for Lap 60 under caution and at the moment of caution, Rhodes was scored the leader and he managed to claim his sixth stage victory of the season. Teammate Eckes settled in second followed by Preece, Hocevar, Nemechek, Zane Smith, DiBenedetto, Chastain, Majeski, and Kraus.
Under the stage break, some like Rhodes, Kraus, Timmy Hill, and Spencer Boyd pitted while the rest led by Eckes remained on the track.
With 69 laps remaining, the final stage commenced under green. At the start, Eckes retained the lead through the backstretch until Preece received a push from John Hunter Nemechek to muscle his Ford F-150 on the outside lane to take the lead through Turns 3 and 4.
Then with 62 laps remaining, Hocevar, who spent the previous five laps overtaking Eckes and Nemechek, overtook Preece, who got loose, to assume the lead while Nemechek was in third.
With 55 laps remaining, Hocevar was out in front by more than a second over Preece followed by Nemechek, Eckes, DiBenedetto, Chastain, Majeski, Kyle Busch, Zane Smith, and Chandler Smith while Enfinger, Friesen, Gray, Kraus, Purdy, Crafton, Rhodes, Colby Howard, Ankrum, and Kris Wright occupied the top 20.
Fifteen laps later, Hocevar extended his advantage to more than four seconds over Preece while Nemechek, Eckes, and Majeski were in the top five.
Not long after, green flag pit stops commenced as Chandler Smith, who dealt with power issues throughout the event, pitted. Soon after, names like Chastain, Rhodes, Preece, Nemechek, DiBenedetto, Eckes, Friesen, and the race leader Hocevar also went in to pit.
As the cycles of green-flag pit stops ensued, names like Majeski, Kyle Busch, and Kraus pitted while Crafton, who had yet to pit, assumed the lead.
When the green flag pit stops concluded, Hocevar, who despite enduring a slow pit stop under green, cycled his way back to the lead with 27 laps remaining. Trailing Hocevar by more than three seconds was Preece along with Chastain, Nemechek, and Eckes.
Down to the final 20 laps of the event, Hocevar extended his advantage to more than four seconds over Preece while Chastain, Nemechek, and Eckes remained in the top five. Chandler Smith was up in sixth followed by Enfinger, DiBenedetto, Zane Smith, and Majeski while Rhodes, Kraus, Kyle Busch, Friesen, and Tanner Gray were in the top 15.
Soon after, DiBenedetto surrendered eighth place to pit due to a flat tire as the race remained under green.
Down to the final 10 laps of the event, Hocevar continued to lead by nearly six seconds over Preece followed by Chastain, Nemechek, and Eckes. By then, Majeski carved his way back to sixth ahead of Chandler Smith, Enfinger, Zane Smith, and Kraus while Kyle Busch was mired in 11th.
With five laps remaining, Hocevar remained as the leader by more than six seconds over Preece while third-place Nemechek trailed by nearly 11 seconds.
Then a lap later, the caution flew when Jesse Little and Ankrum collided entering Turn 3 sending Little against the outside wall while Ankrum was slipping sideways towards the wall. The caution and the incident all but evaporated Hocevar’s advantage over Preece and the field.
Under caution, some like Rhodes, Friesen, Chandler Smith, Tanner Gray, and Colby Howard pitted while the rest led by Hocevar remained on the track.
With the event sent into overtime, Hocevar and Preece led the field to the start of the first overtime attempt. At the start, Hocevar and Preece engaged in a heated side-by-side battle for the lead through the backstretch while Chastain, Eckes, and Nemechek battled for third place. Entering the backstretch, Hocevar and Preece made contact with one another as Hocevar squeezed Preece into the outside wall. Despite the contact, both competitors continued to duel for the lead. Then in Turn 3, Hocevar’s truck slipped up the track against Preece’s and the contact sent Hocevar’s truck around as he backed his truck against the outside wall and damaged the rear deck lid while Preece scrapped the wall after getting hit by Hocevar. The incident spoiled Hocevar’s opportunity of winning his first NASCAR race as the field was sent into a second overtime attempt. During the caution period, Preece, who was briefly out in front, pitted to have the damage to his truck repaired as Chastain assumed the lead.
At the start of the second overtime attempt, Chastain and Eckes dueled for the lead entering Turn 1 through the backstretch before the former received a push from Nemechek to briefly move ahead of the field. Eckes, however, fought back on the inside lane through Turns 3 and 4.
When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Eckes was out in front by a narrow margin over Chastain while Nemechek made a bold three-wide move on both to try and take the lead through Turn 1. Nemechek briefly gained an advantage entering the backstretch until Chastain gained a draft from Enfinger to pull ahead entering Turn 3. Having the clean air and the advantage to his favor through the final two turns, Chastain was able to fend off Enfinger by a tenth of a second to grab the victory amid the late turn of events.
With the victory, Chastain recorded his fourth career victory in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and his first in the series since winning at Pocono Raceway in July 2019, which also marked the last scheduled victory for Niece Motorsports. The victory was also a first for crew chief Cody Efaw.
During his post-race interview on the frontstretch, Chastain took the time to acknowledge teammate Hocevar’s dominant run and sympathize with Hocevar’s late incident that cost him the victory.
“You know, Carson Hocevar and that No. 42 team, they dominated tonight,” Chastain said on FS1. “[Team owner] Al Niece has given us trucks to come out here and fight for wins. I hate it so much for Carson. If I had chosen the bottom [lane] right there [during the first overtime attempt] like he did, I would’ve done the same thing. It’s just you’re in a bad spot. I didn’t give him the push he needed to win. Man, I’m so proud of Carson Hocevar. I just want to say that over and over. That guy’s a future star. He’s such a goofy kid and I love him. He learns so quick and he’s in the program all of us Chevy guys are in. We learn together and we lose together.”
Enfinger came home in second place followed by Nemechek and Eckes while Zane Smith finished in the top five. Tanner Gray, Kyle Busch, Chandler Smith, Friesen, and Rhodes completed the top 10 on the track.
Meanwhile, Preece settled in 11th while Hocevar, who led a race-high 57 laps compared to Chastain’s four, concluded his night in a disappointing 16th place. While Hocevar was left heartbroken and in tears of frustration, Preece was left fuming at Hocevar over the contact and the incident
“A dumbass move by myself,” Hocevar said. “That’s it. It sucks. I tried really hard and tried too hard. I didn’t get a good restart and just tried too hard. I tried to wash [Preece] up and I just crashed myself. I feel like a sis crying, but it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”
“All you kids watching right now, wanting to get to this level, don’t do that,” Preece said. “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…I’m pissed right now. We got two more races to try and go have some good runs, but that’s just stupid. Just really stupid. Don’t be like that.”
There were 15 lead changes for nine different leaders. The race featured five cautions for 25 laps.
With six races remaining in the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular season, John Hunter Nemechek leads the standings by seven points over Ben Rhodes, 25 over Zane Smith, 29 over Chandler Smith, 33 over Stewart Friesen 38 over Ty Majeski, and 40 over Christian Eckes.
Zane Smith, John Hunter Nemechek. Ben Rhodes, Chandler Smith, and Stewart Friesen are currently guaranteed spots for the 2022 Truck Playoffs based on winning at least once throughout the season while Ty Majeski, Christian Eckes, Carson Hocevar, Grant Enfinger, and Matt Crafton are above the top-10 cutline based on points. Tanner Gray trails the top-10 cutline by 25 points, Derek Kraus trails by 52, Matt DiBenedetto trails by 60, and Tyler Ankrum trails by 72.
1. Ross Chastain, four laps led
2. Grant Enfinger
3. John Hunter Nemechek
4. Christian Eckes, five laps led
5. Zane Smith, 52 laps led, Stage 1 winner
6. Tanner Gray
7. Kyle Busch
8. Chandler Smith
9. Stewart Friesen
10. Ben Rhodes, five laps led, Stage 2 winner
11. Ryan Preece, nine laps led
12. Derek Kraus, two laps led
13. Ty Majeski, four laps led
14. Colby Howard
15. Chase Purdy
16. Carson Hocevar, 57 laps led
17. Matt DiBenedetto, one lap down
18. Matt Crafton, one lap down, five laps led
19. Kris Wright, one lap down
20. Tyler Ankrum, one lap down
21. Timmy Hill, two laps down
22. Lawless Alan, two laps down
23. Jack Wood, two laps down
24. Spencer Boyd, two laps down
25. Austin Wayne Self, two laps down
26. Max Gutierrez, three laps down
27. Hailie Deegan, three laps down
28. Dean Thompson, four laps down
29. Tate Fogleman, four laps down
30. Blaine Perkins, four łaps down
31. Josh Reaume, five laps down
32. Jesse Little – OUT, Accident
33. Keith McGee – OUT, Suspension
34. Matt Mills – OUT, Accident
35. Brennan Poole – OUT, Driveshaft
Next on the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule is the series’ annual event at Gateway’s World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois, which will mark the series’ first of three Triple Truck Challenge events. The event is scheduled to occur on Saturday, June 4, at 1:30 p.m. ET on FS1.