SONOMA, CALI. — On a Saturday where their playoff chances could’ve greatly diminished, Carson Hocevar and Matt DiBenedetto capitalized on misfortune and improved their chances in the DoorDash 250 at Sonoma Raceway.
Carson Hocevar scored a sixth-place finish with the help of Daniel Suárez, who finished the race and earned six points for a fifth-place finish in stage two after taking the helm of Hocevar’s truck.
Hocevar remarkably qualified on the pole with a broken tibia on his right, gas pedal-pushing leg. However, a qualifying wreck put him in the back of the field but he quickly mae up 10 positions before letting Suárez take over on Lap 11 to avoid further injury.
The team anticipated the driver change would put him one lap down, which Suárez would make up with a free pass during the stage caution, but a miscue put him an extra lap down. However, a well-timed caution on Lap 28, for Christian Eckes wrecking, put Suárez back on the lead lap on Lap 31 and on new tires.
With the help of some pre-stage caution stops, in 16 laps, Suárez went from around 30th to finish fifth in stage two.
Suárez survived three cautions in the final 15 laps to finish sixth overall – which hboosted Carson Hocevar’s 70-point playoff spot cushion to 87 points with four races left in the regular-season.
On the other side, Matt DiBenedetto started 12th, 59 points out of a playoff spot and, by the end of stage one, moved up to sixth with five bonus points.
DiBenedetto’s fortunes soured as he had a penalty and failed to score points in stage two, then clawed back to the top ten with 14 to go when he was involved in an incident with Stewart Friesen.
DiBenedetto spun Friesen in turn 11 which provoked a caution after a tire barrel got into the racing groove. He claimed Friesen blocked him and caused his wheel-hop that caused the spin.
Luckily, after the spin, DiBenedetto was among several drivers to pit which allowed him to restart in 12th with 11 to go. He bounced around between eighth and 12th in the closing laps and finally finished 10th.
DiBenedetto gained 23 points and is now 36 points out of nabbing the final playoff spot from Matt Crafton, who had a 67-point advantage over DiBenedetto just three races ago.
Crafton failed to score stage points and fell out of the race on Lap 54 with transmission issues.
The next race for Hocevar, DiBenedetto, Crafton and the other NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers is June 18 at Knoxville Raceway (9 p.m. ET; TV: FS1; Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90).