The movie Patton famously begins with a scene during World War II in which American General George S. Patton addresses a group of soldiers prior to a battle. Within the speech to his troops, Patton declares that, “I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed.”
Well, losing is supposed to be a distasteful thing. And when one has come close to winning in a particular competition or achieving a long sought after goal only to have victory slip away, it is supposed to hurt.
That was the case on Friday night in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series-sanctioned NC Education Lottery 200 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when drivers Carson Hocevar and Ryan Preece crashed while racing for the lead late in that event. What looked like a certain 1-2 finish ended up as a 16th place final result for Hocevar and an 11th for Preece.
During a late restart, the two trucks ran side-by-side into turns one and two with Hocevar on the inside and Preece on the outside. At the exit of turn two, Hocevar’s truck got loose and forced that of Preece high causing him to graze that outside wall. Both drivers stayed in the gas down the back straightaway, as they should have. Then into turn three, Hocevar again got loose and slid up the banking, but this time both made significant contact with the outside wall causing damage to both trucks.
The leaders take each other out!!! pic.twitter.com/9v6rMjF1rj
— NASCAR Camping World Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) May 28, 2022
A chance at scoring a win had been lost for both drivers.
Following the incident, the two drivers were, as they should have been, very emotional. Those emotions were caught by the FS1 television cameras when the competitors spoke to reporters Regan Smith and Josh Sims.
“I just want to focus on that final restart,” an angry Preece said. “Him and I drove side-by-side. All you kids watching right now, wanting to get to this level, don’t do that. Race with respect, don’t wreck the guy on the outside of you trying to win your first race. It doesn’t get you anywhere.”
The 31-year-old driver from Berlin, Connecticut went on point out exactly why he was so angry.
“All I’m going to say is thank you RaceChoice.com for putting me in this truck because I race for a living and if I don’t run good, I don’t make a lot of money so I’m pissed right now,” Preece continued. “We’ve got two more races to try and go have some good runs … but that’s just stupid, really stupid. Don’t be like that.”
Preece, who was driving in a part-time role for David Gilliland Racing, has won in two of NASCAR’s three top divisions over the course of his career. He scored two NASCAR Xfinity Series victories back in 2017 and 2018 and he won a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in 2021.
Hocevar had led 57 laps prior to the crash in Friday’s race attempting to earn his first win in any of NASCAR’s top-three divisions. He too was emotional following the sequence of events that ultimately ruined any chance he had at taking the checkered flag.
Hocevar’s Niece Motorsports teammate, Ross Chastain, went on to win the race. The NASCAR Cup Series regular famously smashes a watermelon after his wins as a tribute to the fact that his family runs a watermelon farm in Florida.
The 19-year-old driver from Portage, Michigan referenced that fact in his post-race interview.
“A dumbass move by myself,” the teary-eyed Hocevar admitted. “I mean it just sucks. I mean I tried really hard and tried too hard. I didn’t get a good restart and tried too hard. I tried to wash him up and I just crashed myself. I feel like a sis crying, but it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’m sure as hell going to eat watermelon in victory lane though.”
Ultimately, these were two drivers who were doing what race car drivers are supposed to do- trying to win. One of them made a mistake that cost both a chance at victory. Understandably, each was emotional after the race because losing is supposed to hurt.
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Richard Allen has been covering NASCAR and other forms of motorsports since 2008.
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