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John Hunter Nemechek Makes Last-Lap Pass on Carson Hocevar to Win at Kansas

John Hunter Nemechek Kyle Busch Motorsports Kansas Speedway NASCAR Truck Series Carson Hocevar
John Hunter Nemechek made a major last-lap pass on Carson Hocevar to claim the victory in Friday’s Kansas Lottery 200 at Kansas, the final race of the ‘Round of 10’. PC: Ben Earp | LAT Images | Courtesy of Toyota Racing

What kind of strategy calls are you willing to make in order to earn your team a spot in the next round of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs? If you’re Phil Gould, apparently the answer is you’ll throw the kitchen sink at it, if you have to.

It was this ‘throwing of the kitchen sink’ by Niece Motorsports and veteran crew chief Phil Gould that put Carson Hocevar in a position to finally capture his first career victory, while also moving him through to the next round of the Playoffs.

Alas, it just wasn’t meant to be, with said brilliant strategy call to come to the pits just outside the final fuel window, banking on the absence of a caution flag for the race’s final 55 laps, only holding up for a runner-up result.

Although, credit where credit is due, the strategy call worked out better than most people thought it would, with the 19-year-old maintaining the lead of the race until the first corner of the race’s final lap when John Hunter Nemechek blew by the No. 42 on the inside.

Nemechek, who led a race-high 88 laps, was in an excellent position to take a dominating victory should everything go to plan in the race’s final stage, as it seldom does in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Pitting for the final time with 31 laps remaining, Nemechek came out 20-plus seconds behind Hocevar, and the six to eight drivers that also attempted to make the strategy work, while clicking off laps one second quicker than the race leaders.

Through a massive amount of lapped traffic and some tire degradation, Nemechek’s pursuit of the victory looked to be in question in the race’s final laps, until the No. 4 Toyota Tundra could break free of all traffic to make the race-winning move.

Nemechek took the victory by nearly two seconds over Hocevar, who began to run short of fuel on the exit of turn two on the race’s final lap, still holding on to secure his fourth career runner-up finish.

Ryan Preece finished the race third, scoring yet another top-five result for David Gilliland Racing. Zane Smith – the series’ winner at Kansas earlier in the year – finished in fourth place. Grant Enfinger completed the race’s top five.

Chandler Smith, Corey Heim, Ty Majeski, Colby Howard, and Christian Eckes rounded out the race’s top-10. The rebound from Eckes in the closing laps, from 16th to 10th, was enough to move the No. 98 into the ‘Round of 8’, which begins Thursday at Bristol.

Other drivers on the same strategy as Hocevar included ninth-place finisher Colby Howard, as well as 12th-place finisher Matt DiBenedetto, Kaz Grala (18th), Timmy Hill (19th), and 24th-place finisher Kaden Honeycutt.

Unfortunately, by virtue of being passed on the last lap, Carson Hocevar didn’t have a sufficient amount of points to allow him to advance to the ‘Round of 8’, joining three-time series champion Matt Crafton as the two drivers eliminated from the postseason.

Next for the NASCAR Truck Series is Bristol Motor Speedway, where the series will head for its fourth Playoff event of the season, one that promises to bring a great deal of chaos to the post-season.

Race Results: 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kansas Lottery 200

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