Texas Truck Race Ends in Heartbreaking Fashion for a Dominant …
FORT WORTH, Texas – Nick Sanchez led 168 of the 172 laps at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday (April 1), but the bid for his first career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win ended in heartbreaking fashion after a crash on the final lap.
A day that had the potential to end with a trophy for the No. 2 Rev Racing team instead ended with a totaled truck and a disappointing 16th-place result.
The 2022 ARCA Menards Series champion already looks like a Truck Series veteran in just five career starts, as he won the pole in his debut race at Daytona International Speedway and then followed it up with his second pole at Texas on Friday (March 31).
And for (almost) all of the event, the No. 2 truck was untouchable.
Sanchez was flawless on nearly every restart, as he would clear himself to the lead and then stretch out a sizeable gap over the rest of the field. And for Christian Eckes, Zane Smith and Ben Rhodes – the fastest trucks behind Sanchez – that’s all the race looked to be: a battle for second.
That is, until the final stage.
Sanchez held on to the lead for the restart with 45 laps to go, but Smith was all over him and searching for a way around. The No. 38 truck started the race in 18th, but he had quickly worked his way up the scoring pylon to give the biggest challenge to Sanchez all day.
The final stage was caution after caution, the notable of which was a crash involving Dean Thompson on lap 144. Thompson was sent to a local hospital for further evaluation, but he later tweeted that he was doing good and getting scans done.
With each passing restart, Smith got closer and closer to getting around Sanchez. Two more cautions forced overtime, and with the white flag waving to complete lap 171, Sanchez beat Smith to the line by just nine one-thousandths of a second.
While heading into turn 1 for the final time of the afternoon, Sanchez and Smith made contact. Sanchez clipped the grass and nearly spun out, but he was able to keep the truck straight. The contact slowed his momentum, however, and Carson Hocevar got into the back of the No. 2; Sanchez then spun up the track and took Smith and Eckes with him.
The seas parted for Hocevar, who scored the first victory of his Truck career.
Leading all but four laps and failing to win would’ve been a tough pill for anyone to swallow, let alone a driver seeking his first win. But despite the disappointment, Sanchez was able to take solace in how dominant of a performance he put up.
“Just proud of my team,” Sanchez said. “We’ve dominated all day, and it’s something to take pride in. I’m still getting used to these trucks, so it’s only going to be better from here. I look at the positives from the day and go on to the next one with the same mindset.”
Sanchez said that he’s not the first (or last) driver to leave empty-handed after a dominant performance, and he added that all that’s left to do is focus on how to improve for next time.
“That’s racing,” Sanchez said. “Been a lot of other people in the racing world that have done the same thing and came up short, it’s just part of it. All I can do is go back and look at the things I could’ve done better and the things I could control.”
Another unfortunate part of the finish for Rev Racing and the No. 2 team is that the truck that was the class of the field will likely be sent straight to the junkyard.
“I think [the truck’s] a write off, that thing’s pretty worn down,” Sanchez said. “But I guess the good thing about my team, [is that we’ll] build them back better, build them back faster.
“Pissed that I tore up a truck because I’ve seen how much hard work goes into building them, so I don’t like to see them [wrecked]; I like to see them in victory lane.”
With an impressive start to the season, Sanchez is already looking ahead to the upcoming weekends of the schedule.
“We’ll keep on building from it and keep on chasing wins.”
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- ^ Nick Sanchez (frontstretch.com)
- ^ Christian Eckes (frontstretch.com)
- ^ Zane Smith (frontstretch.com)
- ^ Ben Rhodes (frontstretch.com)
- ^ Dean Thompson (frontstretch.com)
- ^ Carson Hocevar (frontstretch.com)