The NASCAR Truck Series Friday concluded with a very emphatic Ben Rhodes as he was crowned a two-time champion but otherwise, disappointment across the track. Numerous crashes shaded the triumph that was Rhodes’ induction into a small group of Truck Series champions with multiple wins.
There were 31 laps left in the race when Carson Hocevar, No. 42, trailed closely behind and made contact with Corey Heim, No. 11, and his Safelite truck. Heim spun out and into Stewart Friesen who took most of the momentum from the wall, which allowed Heim to continue driving.
It’s likely if Friesen didn’t act as a buffer during the incident, Heim would have wrecked completely and been unable to continue. Though back in the race, Heim was cost a true shot at the championship and finished 18th. Later, during the final laps, Heim retaliated and shoved Hocevar into the outside wall, costing Grant Enfinger the title.
“Obviously, Corey, you know, retaliated, or whatever it was, against Hocevar,” Enfinger said in post-race interviews. “It’s just incredibly disappointing to have our championship race come down to an absolute mess; chaos, mess.”
Matt Tifft took to X, formerly Twitter, and wrote of the crash-filled finale, “This is an absolute embarrassment.”
Hocevar has a track record of what other elite drivers consider intentional hits, yet he has not received a penalty for the setbacks other drivers incur. Denny Hamlin, specifically, wants to see a change in how NASCAR penalizes drivers like Hocevar.
“Some of these are blatant enough that you can see that someone hits someone, and they kept pushing,” he said to Fox Sports. “Those are the types of incidents, you just, you know; penalize.”
But when it comes to whether or not he thinks NASCAR will enact discipline, he doesn’t see it happening.
“I don’t think NASCAR is ever going to make that change.”
Though adamant that the auto racing organization should penalize drivers for intentional crashing, some social media users were quick to compare the incident to Hamlin’s driving history.
“This is what people think Denny Hamlin does every week,” wrote one user on the Fox NASCAR Instagram page.
“Looks like they both graduated [from] the school of Hamlin racing,” said another.
Tricon Garage, Heim’s racing team, took to Instagram following the finale on Friday.
“Proud of everything we’ve accomplished this season,” the account posted attached to a series of clips of Tricon team members, including Dean Thompson. “We’ll be back in February even stronger.”
Heim and Tricon announced in October that he will return to the No. 11 Toyota truck for the 2024 season.