It would have been quite the story had he pulled it off. Instead Carson Hocevar’s race Saturday night at Knoxville Raceway ended as many of his have, in bitter disappointment.
The 19-year-old broke his right tibia in a crash at World Wide Technology Raceway on June 4 and the driver of the No. 42 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet underwent surgery. The next Friday, he put his truck on the pole for Saturday’s race at Sonoma but crashed at the end of his pole-winning lap, then started from the rear after repairs. After starting the race, he gave the seat to relief driver Daniel Suarez, who brought the truck home in sixth.
Friday at Knoxville Hocevar led in final practice after posting the third-fastest lap in the opening session.
“It seems like every time our No. 42 team goes to a dirt track, we have success or moments of success,” Hocevar said. “We won our heat race last year at Knoxville and led a lot of laps, and at Bristol Dirt back in April we led the second-most in a second place effort.”
“Hopefully, it performs one spot better this weekend.”
Saturday, he won his heat race and started the race second quickly taking the lead. He won the Stage 1 and looked to be the truck to beat, but on lap 68 on a restart, Hocevar’s truck slowed with a blown engine. Needing crutches and unable to get out of the truck on the track he was pushed to the pits and his night was over after leading 65 of the 68 laps that had been run to the point.
“Things just seem to keep happening, unfortunately,” an obviously disappointed Hocevar said. “This sucks. It’s one of the areas we can’t control.”
Adding injury to insult perhaps Hocevar was trapped in the infield and unable to leave.
“I thought Sonoma was going to be the hard one to watch,” he said.
On the same lap, a second Niece Motorsports entry driven by dirt racing star Tyler Carpenter was also pushed to the pits. His truck lost a driveline, and he too was out of the race.
Carpenter had earned a ride in Niece Motorsports’ No. 41 Chevrolet with a victory in the Super Late Model Division at the Gateway Dirt Nationals in St. Louis in December.
“Tonight was bad to the bone, really” Carpenter said. “It’s unfortunate our night had to end this way because I think both me and the truck had more potential than that. I feel like we struggled early on, but to be able to charge up to second in the heat race and run in the top-20 in tonight’s feature showed we were capable of having a strong finish.”
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