Carson Hocevar secures a berth in title showdown after Homestead win

Carson Hocevar secures a berth in title showdown after Homestead win

Carson Hocevar overtook Ben Rhodes with 10 laps remaining and went on to win the NASCAR Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday.

Carson Hocevar won the Baptist Health Care 200, which is the penultimate race of the 2023 NASCAR Truck Series season, held on Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, marking his fourth win this year.

Hocevar joined Corey Heim in securing a berth in the playoff round of eight races to advance to the final championship showdown, which will be held at Phoenix Raceway in two weeks.

“We were so fast, this thing was so good,” Hocevar said. “It kills me I can’t do a burnout, but we have to take this motor to Phoenix.

“We got behind on pit stops and lost track position which was unfortunate.

“God, I love winning. I love it. We just got to win at Phoenix.”

Early race leader Corey Heim edged Majeski by 1.462 seconds to win Stage 1. Hocevar came in third, Smith came in fourth, and Enfinger finished in the top five.

On a two-lap sprint to the coclusion of stage 2, Heim outlasted Smith’s late charge to win the stage. Third place went to Bayley Currey, fourth place went to Sanchez, and fifth place went to Friesen.

Enfinger had to restart from the back of the pack after being penalized under a late-stage caution for an unsecured tyre during his pit stop. Eckes had to begin the final stage from the back of the field after receiving a penalty for a restart infraction.

A few lead lap trucks made the decision to pit during the intermission between Stages 2 and 3, but Heim remained on the track and was in the lead when the race resumed under green with 67 laps remaining.

On the restart, Smith surged by Heim to take the lead for the first time.

With 55 laps remaining, Mason Maggio spun off Turn 4, prompting several lead lap trucks, including Rhodes, to pit. With 50 laps remaining, Smith was still in the lead.

Eckes had to serve a pass-through penalty after being spotted speeding on pit road during his stop. With fewer than 20 laps remaining after the cycle of stops, Smith moved into second place, nearly six seconds behind Rhodes, who had pitted far earlier than the other playoff drivers.

With 15 laps remaining, Hocevar overtook Smith for second and started chasing down Rhodes for the lead. With 10 laps remaining, he finally passed Rhodes and claimed the lead.

Rhodes made a risky tactical choice by being the first playoff contender to make a final pit stop, just before a fuel run, and then taking the lead as the rest of the field made their rounds through green flag stops.

Rhodes still led Zane Smith by more than six seconds with 20 of the 134 laps remaining, but Hocevar was closing the gap. He focused on Rhodes and overtook him with 10 laps remaining after overcoming Smith for second with 15 laps remaining.

Hocevar ultimately prevailed over Smith by 2.705 seconds to claim the victory, his fourth of the 2023 campaign. Third place went to Rhodes, fourth place went to Corey Heim, and fifth place went to Grant Enfinger.

“I was just trying to hold on all day long,” Rhodes said. “I was trying to hang on from the drop of the green flag.

“I told my team that I have never had a truck that was so on top of the race track with brand new tires. I really didn’t understand it.

“Something was going on with this thing, and we built a completely different package underneath it, and it wasn’t jiving.

“We are going to have to go back to our notebook and go with what we know.”

Other top-10 finishers in the Baptist Health Cancer Care 200 included Bayley Currey in sixth, Stewart Friesen seventh, Matt Crafton eighth and Rajah Caruth in ninth.

Leave a Reply