FORT WORTH, TEXAS (APRIL 1, 2023) – Nick Sanchez led an absolutely dominant 168 of 172 laps in Saturday’s SpeedyCash.com 250 at Texas Motor Speedway, but the 21-year old rookie and reigning NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Zane Smith collided at the front of the field after taking the white flag and Carson Hocevar instead drove through to take his first career victory in double overtime.
The 20-year old Hocevar led only that last overtime lap in the No. 42 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet to claim his first win by 1.628-seconds over Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Chase Purdy – career best finishes for both drivers.
After slight contact with Smith racing door-to-door for the win, Sanchez got loose and had to regain control of the truck heading to the white flag. Video replays show that as he steadied his truck, he was hit from behind by Hocevar, whose truck was carrying the momentum as Sanchez was recovering from his slight miscue. The contact from behind was just enough to spin Sanchez back across the track and collect Smith’s truck, while Hocevar drove forward to the finish line and waited for official word of the win.
“I didn’t mean to get into him, I just meant to give him a push and he got sideways the second I hit him, I apologize to them, I’ll take the fall for it, I wrecked a Chevy and I’ll go talk to him about it – he deserved to win for sure,’’ Hocevar said of the contact with Sanchez.
“But all the times we were the fastest car and I don’t win, and this team deserves to win more than anything, I can stop getting the same question asked all the time now,’’ said Hocevar, who has four career runner-up finishes.
“We didn’t deserve to win today but we were in the right spot at the right time.”
Certainly, Sanchez got plenty of practice in mastering re-starts with six of the 12 cautions coming in the final 40 laps of the race. He drove his No. 2 Rev Racing Chevrolet to the front each time, having to duel side-by-side with Smith late in the race.
“Obviously coming to the last lap, me and the 38 [Zane Smith] were playing an aggressive side-drafting game and I got a little too aggressive on him, got loose, went through the grass and saved it,’’ Sanchez said. “Just got hit by the 42 [Hocevar]. I don’t know what else to say about that.
“It is what it is, that’s racing.
“This is what we’ve been working hard to do,’’ continued Sanchez, who swept both Stage wins. “We don’t want to just win, we want to dominate. Today we dominated, but we didn’t win so just got to go back and see what I can do better. Try to build on strengths. I guess, the positive is we got stage points, that’s something to fall back on. But I want to win, that’s my goal.’’
Veteran Stewart Friesen finished third with Ty Majeski and Jake Garcia rounding out the top-five; Garcia the highest finishing rookie. Hailie Deegan equaled her career best finish with a sixth-place run. Corey Heim, Ryan Vargas, Jack Wood and Ben Rhodes rounded out the top-10.
Smith was scored 14th and Sanchez was scored 16th.
The green flag flies for the April 2 PPG 375 (250 laps, 375 miles), the second race of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, at 11:15 a.m. CT.
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