Ross Chastain celebrates after winning the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (HHP/Chris Owens)
Ross Chastain dramatically gave Niece Motorsports its fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win in Friday night’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Chastain inherited a golden opportunity to win after Carson Hocevar, his niece, teammate, was involved in a crash with Ryan Preece to invoke the final caution. Chastain started second in the green and white checkered restart with two laps to go and used forays from John Hunter Nemechek and Grant Enfinger to take the lead and hold it in the closing moments.
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“My thoughts are Carson Hocevar won this race,” said Chastain. “He did such a great job. He’s a great kid and he’s going to take someone’s job in this sport, maybe mine, and he’s going to win a lot of races. There were times when I felt like one of our teammates might win, but I’m excited to pick up the smashed watermelon chunks and win this race.”
The win also marked the fourth Truck Series triumph for Chastain, who approached Friday’s race as a tune-up for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 to claim a third NASCAR Cup Series win of the year.
“The cup cars drive very differently than the trucks, but it’s always good to build muscle memory – especially at the same track as Sunday’s race (the Coca-Cola 600). I will do a wheelbarrow race to get more laps.”
Hocevar’s hopes of a landmark Truck Series win seemed all but ended in the final laps, when a three-second lead over Preece seemed more than enough. However, a warning four laps from the end forced Hocevar to aggressively keep Preece behind at the restart – and both drivers paid a heavy price. Hocevar slipped in Preece and both went into the wall, requiring another restart and knocking out every competitor.
Chastain inherited a front row spot on the last restart and accelerated to the point thanks to the help of Nemechek, who finished third, and Enfinger, who finished second.
Christian Eckes and Zane Smith completed the top five. Tanner Gray was sixth, Kyle Busch seventh, Chandler Smith eighth and Stewart Friesen ninth. Defending champion Ben Rhodes completed the top 10.