NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Ross Chastain triumphs at Charlotte after Late wreck KOs Carson Hocevar
May 28, 2022
Still processing his latest NASCAR Camping World Truck Series defeat, Carson Hocevar emerged from his No. 42 Niece Motorsports hauler taking selfies and pictures of his car, but the mood was somber.
What was the occasion?
"I just wanted to remember the moment," Hocevar said. "It's not often you get to haul ass like that. It's not often you spank the field. We waxed them. Driver blew it on the restart."
Hocevar led twice for 57 laps, another what could have been race in a season full of so many thus far, but once again was denied his first victory at the third highest level. This time, he drove the control car in the first overtime and chose the bottom.
Ryan Preece, making a rare appearance in the series for David Gilliland Racing, chose the outside and away the went into Turn 1. Hocevar drove in deep and pushed Preece up the track and into the wall. The drag race continued into Turn 3 and Hocevar completely washed up into Preece -- essentially crashing both drivers.
Simply stated, Preece was mad.
"All you kids watching right now wanting to get to this level, don't do that," Preece said on the FS1 television broadcast. "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.
"All I'm going to say is 'thank you Race Choice Dot Com for putting me in this truck, because I race for a living. If I don't run good, I don't make a lot of money. So, I'm p----d right now. That's stupid."
To his point, Preece is a reserve driver for Stewart-Haas Racing and believed to be the successor to a Cup ride at that organization but is still racing for his career across multiple levels.
He's racing for money in a Tour Type Modified, Truck and Xfinity car until he gets his turn.
"I raced with a lot of great race car drivers -- Mike Stefanik, Ted Christopher, Reggie Ruggiero -- all those guys," Preece said. "If you drive like that, they would have kicked your ass. It’s just, no one is teaching these kids, but somebody needs to, and eventually it’s going to be me."
Hocevar took a degree of responsibility for the incident, albeit with the caveat that they were racing for the win.
"I should have taken the top knowing that's the way on old tires," Hocevar said. "It hadn't been firing good all day. Everyone spun their tires. Just tried really hard, tried to wash him up a little bit. I tried to get him really hard and crashed myself."
Chastain, a teammate to Hocevar at Niece Motorsports, said it was actually his fault that Preece even had a chance to stay side-by-side for the lead. Chastain restarted behind his teammate and failed to give him the push he needed to escape on the bottom lane.
"If I would have given him a shove into Turn 1 on that restart, Carson would have won the race and Preece wouldn't have been close," Chastain said. "I messed up. I let him down. That put him in a really tight spot with Preece on his door.
Preece did what he did, and you know what's going to happen when you're racing for the win like this. I can't believe John Hunter and Christian didn't crash on the last restart. We all make mistakes and Preece isn't immune to that."
Chastain said Hocevar made some mistakes, but they all do and it’s part of learning.
"If you want to talk about mistakes," Chastain said. "Lap one, turn one, I drove it way too hard and bounced off of Carson. I made the first mistake. You want to talk about mistakes, I was the first one of the entire field to make a mistake."
Prior to a caution with five laps to go for a crash involving Tyler Ankrum and Jesse Little, Hocevar had beat Preece on the previous restart and drove away to a five second lead in a head-to-head battle. With that said, Hocevar understands why Preece is mad, but only to a certain point.
"Yeah, but if he wants to talk about young drivers with no respect, understand I just spanked his ass," Hocevar said. "We waxed him. He was fast but we put it to him. I made a mistake, I screwed up. I wasn’t going to try to crash him and crash myself in the process. I used him up a little bit, when I got loose from getting tight and drove him into the wall and drove way too hard into 3 with the damage I had.
"I heard a little bit of what he said. He has a right to be mad and say what he wants. I don’t agree with all of it. It’s just hard racing. I made a mistake and it cost both of us. It is what it is."
The admittance of a mistake was very little solace to Preece.
"He makes a lot of mistakes," Preece said. "I watch it week in and week out. It’s a mistake when you learn the first time. It’s not a mistake when you continually do it over and over again, it’s called a bad habit."
For the sake of context, the two had a previous run-in back in March at Las Vegas. Hocevar disagreed with that assertion, however.
"He's full of S-H-I-T," Hocevar said, literally spelling it out. "I haven't really crashed all year. Yeah, I made a mistake a Vegas and really, and he was the one that turned me.
"If he wants to play that car, sure. The young kid always gets put down, bias because he's the young kid, the money kid, the rich kid. It's always something and never two races racing hard. I expect to get raced hard the same way and I'd respond the same way.
"I don't get playing that card. That's my opinion, two truck racers driving hard, and that's what happened."