Hocevar capitalizes for late Truck victory at Homestead; Championship 4 field set

Eleven days after announcing his move to the NASCAR Cup Series for the 2024 season, Carson Hocevar will receive an opportunity to contend for this year’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship after leading the final 11 laps en route to winning the Baptist Health 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday, October 21.

The 20-year-old Hocevar from Portage, Michigan, led the final 11 of 134 scheduled laps in an event where he started on the front row and battled within the lead pack. He also scored a handful of stage points throughout the event’s two stage periods. Then, amid a series of late battles and late pit strategies ensuing between Playoff contenders trying to race their way into this year’s Championship 4 round, Hocevar tracked and overtook Playoff rival Ben Rhodes with 11 laps remaining.

He then cruised to his fourth Craftsman Truck Series career victory of the 2023 season and raced his way into the Championship 4 round. As a result, Hocevar will square off against Corey Heim, Grant Enfinger and Ben Rhodes for this year’s Truck Series championship in the season-finale event at Phoenix Raceway in early November.

With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Friday, October 20, Playoff contender and rookie Nick Sanchez secured his fifth Truck pole position of this season after posting a pole-winning lap at 167.084 mph in 32.319 seconds. Joining him on the front row was Playoff contender Carson Hocevar, who posted the second-best qualifying lap at 165.858 mph in 32.558 seconds.

Prior to the event, Spencer Davis, Trevor Bayne, Jonathan Shafer and Armani Williams dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to their respective trucks. Brothers Tanner and Taylor Gray also dropped to the rear of the field due to missing driver introductions.

When the green flag waved and the race started, Sanchez and Hocevar dueled for the lead entering Turn 1 as the field fanned out and jostled early for positions. Through the backstretch, Sanchez managed to muscle his No. 2 Gainbridge Chevrolet Silverado RST ahead of Hocevar from the outside lane as he then maintained control of both lanes through Turns 3 and 4 before he led the first lap. By then, Ty Majeski was in second ahead of Carson Hocevar while Christian Eckes and Grant Enfinger were in the top five ahead of a hard-charging Corey Heim, who started eighth.

Five laps later, Heim, who was already guaranteed a spot in this year’s Championship 4 field, made his move and assumed the lead from Sanchez. By Lap 10, Heim was leading by eight-tenths of a second over Hocevar followed by Majeski while Sanchez fell back to fourth ahead of Zane Smith and 38. In addition, Enfinger, Eckes, Stewart Friesen, Matt Crafton and Tyler Ankrum were running in the top 10 while Playoff contender Ben Rhodes was mired back in 22nd.

At the Lap 20 mark, Heim extended his advantage to more than a second over Majeski followed by Zane Smith, Hocevar and Enfinger while Sanchez, Friesen, Eckes, Crafton and Chase Purdy were in the top 10. Behind, Rhodes was mired in 24th behind teammate Hailie Deegan while Ankrum, Rajah Caruth, Bayley Currey, Dean Thompson and Jack Wood were in the top 15. Notably, Trevor Bayne was in 18th while Tanner Gray, Taylor Gray, Brad Perez and Jake Garcia occupied the top 20.

When the first stage period concluded on Lap 30, Heim captured his sixth Truck stage victory of the 2023 season. Majeski settled in second ahead of Hocevar, Zane Smith and Enfinger while Friesen, Eckes, Sanchez, Crafton and Purdy were scored in the top 10. By then, Rhodes was mired in 24th place while 26 of 34 starters were scored on the lead lap.

Under the stage break, the lead lap field led by Heim pitted for service. Following the pit stops, Heim retained the lead after exiting pit road first followed by Majeski, Hocevar, Zane Smith, Eckes, Friesen, Crafton and Enfinger. Amid the pit stops, Hailie Deegan and Nick Leitz were penalized for uncontrolled tire violations while Memphis Villarreal was penalized for a safety violation. In addition, Marco Andretti was penalized for unapproved fueling.

The second stage period started on Lap 39 as Heim and Majeski occupied the front row. At the start, Heim, who briefly dueled against Majeski for the lead, maintained the lead over Majeski and a bevy of Playoff contenders as the field behind fanned out. With Heim retaining the top spot, a three-way battle for the runner-up spot ensued between Majeski, Zane Smith and Hocevar while Eckes and Friesen tried to join the battle.

At the Lap 45 mark, Heim was leading by a second over Zane Smith followed by Hocevar, Majeski and Friesen while Eckes, Currey, Sanchez, Crafton and Enfinger were in the top 10. Behind, Rhodes was mired in 16th.

Five laps later, Heim stabilized his advantage by a second over Hocevar followed by Zane Smith, Majeski and Friesen while Eckes, Currey, Sanchez, Enfinger and Crafton were battling in the top 10. Meanwhile, Rhodes was still running in 16th behind Bayne.

Three laps later, the caution flew after Spencer Boyd stopped on the track. During the caution period, the lead lap field led by Heim returned to pit road for service. Following the pit stops, Heim maintained the lead after exiting first ahead of Zane Smith, Eckes, Currey, Sanchez, Majeski and Friesen. Amid the pit stops, Playoff contender Enfinger was penalized for an uncontrolled tire violation.

With the race restarting with two laps remaining in the second stage period, Heim maintained the lead over Zane Smith and Currey muscled his way up to third as the field fanned out through the first two turns. Amid the battles, Heim retained the lead over a hard-charging Zane Smith once he started the final lap of the second stage period.

When the second stage period concluded on Lap 60, Heim notched his seventh Truck stage victory of the 2023 season and the second of the day. Zane Smith settled in second ahead of a side-by-side duel between Currey and Sanchez while Friesen, Eckes, Majeski, Crafton, Purdy and Hocevar were scored in the top 10. By then, Rhodes was in 11th while Enfinger was mired back in 20th.

With the front-runners remaining on the track during the second stage break period, the final stage commenced with 67 laps remaining as Heim and Zane Smith occupied the front row. At the start, Zane Smith made his way into the lead over Heim as the field fanned out while jostling for late positions. A lap later, however, the caution returned after Colby Howard and Hailie Deegan wrecked on the frontstretch.

During the following restart with 60 laps remaining, Zane Smith and Heim dueled for the lead until the former maintained the top spot ahead of the field. As Smith retained the lead, Currey made his way into the runner-up spot over Heim while Hocevar, Sanchez and Majeski followed suit. Rhodes would also make his way into the top 10 while Enfinger was trying to re-enter the top 10.

Following another caution period with 56 laps remaining after Mason Maggio spun in Turn 4, the race restarted with 50 laps remaining. At the start, Heim, who restarted on the front row alongside Zane Smith, spun the tires, which allowed Smith to pull away with the lead as Hocevar made his way into the runner-up spot. Shortly after, Heim battled and reassumed the runner-up spot over Hocevar while Zane Smith was leading by seven-tenths of a second.

Then with 40 laps remaining, Heim, who had slipped to sixth, pitted his No. 11 Chateau Elan/Explore Braselton Toyota Tundra TRD Pro under green. Playoff contenders Enfinger and Eckes would also pit four laps later before Eckes was penalized for speeding on pit road, thus damaging his hopes of transferring into the Championship 4 field. Within 30 laps remaining, more Playoff names that included Sanchez, Zane Smith and Majeski pitted as Rhodes, who pitted during the previous caution period amid a gusty pit strategic call from crew chief Rich Lushes, cycled his No. 99 Campers Inn RV Ford F-150 into the lead.

With 15 laps remaining, Rhodes was leading by more than five seconds over a hard-charging Hocevar while Zane Smith was in third and trailing the lead by more than five seconds. By then, Heim and Enfinger were in the top five.

Four laps later, Hocevar, who gained massive ground on Rhodes, assumed the lead from Rhodes. Hocevar’s move placed Rhodes only two points above the top-four cutline while Zane Smith was 15 points below and mired in a “must-win” situation to advance.

Down to the final five laps of the event, Hocevar was leading by three seconds over Zane Smith’s No. 38 Ambetter Health Ford F-150 while Rhodes, Heim and Enfinger were scored in the top five. By then, Hocevar, Enfinger and Rhodes were still scored above the cutline along with Heim while Zane Smith, Sanchez, Eckes and Majeski were currently scored below the cutline.

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Hocevar remained as the leader by nearly three seconds over Zane Smith. With Smith unable to generate a final lap charge as he was too far behind Hocevar, Hocevar was able to smoothly navigate his No. 42 Worldwide Express Chevrolet Silverado RST around Homestead for a final time and cycle back to the frontstretch to claim his fourth checkered flag of his career and of the 2023 season.

With the victory, Hocevar also punched his ticket into this year’s Championship 4 round and will officially contend for his first NASCAR National Touring Series championship in the Truck circuit at Phoenix Raceway. Hocevar will compete alongside Corey Heim, Ben Rhodes and Grant Enfinger, all of whom finished in the top five and will contend for their first series title, minus Rhodes, who will contend for his second title.

“We were so fast,” Hocevar said on FS1. “It kills me [that] I can’t do a burnout. We have to take this motor to Phoenix. So good. This truck was so good. We got behind on pit stops and just lost track position, which really was unfortunate. I love winning! I love it! We just got to win at Phoenix. Even with all the setbacks, from the debris and everything, we had a shot to win and we did just that.”

“I don’t know what to think,” Rhodes said. “To be honest, the whole day was so difficult. I knew we were in for a long day. I just didn’t know it was gonna be this difficult, but what an absolute blessing to finish where we did. I can’t thank [crew chief Rich Lushes] enough for making that [pit] call. He’s really good at making these calls when it counts. I just wish we weren’t in this position so much. We’ve dealt with this pressure year over year and every time, we’ve been able to show through we get. I’m thankful for the effort by the team. What a day.”

“It feels great,” Enfinger said. “These guys deserve to be running for a championship at Phoenix. Pretty disappointed in our execution. You can’t make mistakes against these guys. We were blessed to have a second opportunity. [Crew chief] Jeff [Hensley] made some great calls on the truck. The truck was as good as it was gonna be those last two stints. That was all we had. Congratulations to all these guys. Hopefully, we can make the most of it in two weeks.”

“Definitely really excited for Phoenix,” Heim said. “I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work and studying into that race. It’s gonna be the biggest race of my career. We’ve got bigger things on the horizon here, so we’ll focus on that.”

Amid the Championship 4 field being set, Zane Smith, the reigning series champion who finished in the runner-up spot, did not transfer along with Ty Majeski, rookie Nick Sanchez and Christian Eckes.

“Just a bummer,” Smith said. “The Round of 8 was not good to us. It only takes one bad race and unfortunately, we had two. Just one spot short today.”

“We had a truck [that was] able to advance and just kept making mistakes,” Eckes said. “Just wasn’t good enough today.”

“We just missed it a little bit today,” Majeski said. “We were all over the splitter, way too hard to be able to attack on restarts, maintain our track position. Long run, we were OK. Just couldn’t get going. Proud of this No. 98 team. Wished we could’ve been competing for a championship at Phoenix, but I see my teammate Ben [Rhodes] made it, so good for ThorSport [Racing]. All hands on deck these next two weeks, trying to prepare four fast trucks to go to Phoenix and hopefully, bring home a race win and a championship.”

“To miss [the Championship 4] by one point is pretty rough,” Sanchez said. “Guess all you can do is go to Phoenix and try to win, but yeah, it’s on me.”

Following the post-race inspection process, Zane Smith was disqualified from his runner-up result for windshield support violation. Amid Smith’s disqualification, the Championship 4 field occupied by Heim, Hocevar, Enfinger and Rhodes remained unchanged, with Rhodes earning the fourth and final transfer spot in a tie-breaker over Sanchez.

There were eight lead changes for seven different leaders. The race featured five cautions for 29 laps. In addition, 15 of 34 starters finished on the lead lap.

*Notably, Chevrolet secured this year’s Craftsman Truck Series manufacturer’s title.


1. Carson Hocevar, 11 laps led

2. Ben Rhodes, 22 laps led

3. Corey Heim, 57 laps led, Stage 1 & 2 winner

4. Grant Enfinger

5. Bayley Currey

6. Stewart Friesen

7. Matt Crafton

8. Rajah Caruth

9. Ty Majeski, one lap led

10. Chase Purdy

11. Tanner Gray, four laps led

12. Jack Wood

13. Taylor Gray

14. Trevor Bayne

15. Jake Garcia, one lap down

16. Dean Thompson, one lap down

17. Nick Sanchez, one lap down

18. Marco Andretti, one lap down

19. Lawless Alan, one lap down

20. Christian Eckes, one lap down, five laps led

21. Daniel Dye, one lap down

22. Tyler Hill, one lap down

23. Nick Leitz, one lap down

24. Brad Perez, one lap down

25. Tyler Ankrum, one lap down

26. Jonathan Shafer, two laps down

27. Mason Maggio, three laps down

28. Hailie Deegan, three laps down

29. Memphis Villarreal, three laps down

30. Colby Howard, five laps down

31. Armani Williams, 13 laps down

32. Spencer Davis – OUT, Electrical

33. Spencer Boyd – OUT, Electrical

34. Zane Smith – Disqualified 34 laps led

*Bold indicates Playoff contenders

Playoff standings standings

1. Corey Heim – Advanced

2. Carson Hocevar – Advanced

3. Grant Enfinger – Advanced

4. Ben Rhodes – Advanced

5. Nick Sanchez – Eliminated

6. Christian Eckes – Eliminated

7. Ty Majeski – Eliminated

8. Zane Smith – Eliminated

The 2023 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season is set to conclude at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Arizona, on November 3, where a champion will be crowned. The finale’s broadcast time is slated to occur at 10 p.m. ET on FS1.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Best New Zealand Online Casinos

RacingJunk.com and Leaf Racewear Safety Equipment Giveaway

Rocketplay Casino

10 deposit casinos

Best Betting Sites in Canada


Latest articles