Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Nick Schwartz

NASCAR drivers react to wild, controversial finish in Truck Series championship race

The championship-eligible drivers in Friday’s Craftsman Truck Series finale may have set a record for chaos in the playoff era, but Ben Rhodes survived the melee to win his second career title in a wild finish.

Corey Heim appeared to be the class of the field and the fastest driver among the Championship 4, but during his charge toward the front in the final stage, an incident with Hocevar derailed his title plans.

Heim passed Hocevar cleanly to enter provisional championship position, but Hocevar wrecked Heim shortly after, sending him spinning into Stewart Friesen.

Diving low towards the wall, Hocevar washed up the track and into Heim, who was running a middle lane with Friesen to his outside. Though Heim did not suffer major damage, he lost ground on pit road and started well behind his title competitors.

Hocevar appeared to be extremely frustrated with himself after the contact, and the in-car camera showed him shaking his head and pounding the steering wheel afterward. Hocevar developed a reputation early in his career as a somewhat reckless driver who was willing to wreck his competitors, and he has not fully regained the respect of his competitors – just last weekend at Martinsville in the Cup Series, Hocevar appeared to create contact with Ty Gibbs. Tyler Reddick, for one, was not happy with what he saw on Friday night.

The race for the title became a duel between Grant Enfinger and Ben Rhodes, as it became clear that with the damage, Heim’s car didn’t have the pace to compete with the leading cars. Hocevar, who pitted for fresh tires, began climbing up the field – but when he reached Heim with four laps to go and tried to pass on the inside, Heim rode him into the outside wall to exact some level of revenge. By deliberately bringing out a caution, Heim also took the championship out of Enfinger’s grasp, who had a comfortable lead over Rhodes.

On the ensuing restart, Rhodes split Christian Eckes and Zane Smith to try and gain the lead, but Enfinger made contact with Eckes and lost several positions. A spinning car brought out a caution just before the white flag, and Enfinger’s team chose to put under the yellow flag, giving Rhodes a commanding position in the race for the title.

In another twist, Rhodes nearly didn’t survive the overtime restart. Zane Smith appeared to miss a shift entering Turn 1, and Rhodes slammed into the back of his truck, sending Smith spinning. Rhodes suffered major front-end damage, but was able to restart sixth, with Enfinger mired back in 18th.

There was another wreck immediately on the next overtime restart, taking out Rhodes’ teammate Matt Crafton. Rhodes gained positions through the incident to start fourth. Enfinger moved up to 13th and Heim climbed to 19th.

In the end, Enfinger needed one more lap to complete a remarkable run to the title. He surged to within a car-length of Rhodes on the final lap, but the No. 99 was able to hold Enfinger off and finished fifth to win the Truck Series title, as Christian Eckes won the race.

Here’s what NASCAR fans had to say:

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.