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Three-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton brings two unique distinctions to Saturday night‘s Heart of America 200 (8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
First, he‘s the only former Kansas winner in the field for the 24th renewal at the track. Second, he‘s the only driver to have competed in all of the previous 23 Kansas races, dating to 2001.
During that long string of races, the 45-year-old veteran has accumulated three victories, seven top fives and 13 top 10s at the track.
Crafton will have an experience advantage over every other driver in the field, but that‘s not to say he won‘t have stiff competition for the win. After a frustrating start to the season, John Hunter Nemechek picked up his first victory of the year last Friday at Darlington Raceway.
Niece Motorsports‘ Carson Hocevar, seeking his maiden win in the series, has finished second in the last two races, at Bristol Dirt and Darlington.
“We have a lot to look forward to at Kansas this week,” said Hocevar, 19, who was born nearly two years after Crafton made his first Kansas start. “Producing consecutive second-place finishes is big, for not only myself but Niece Motorsports and the No. 42 team, too.
“It‘s really good to show the improvements we‘ve made and to have a lot of points in the bank that we did not have three weeks ago. The ability to show our speed at three completely different race tracks over the past month is encouraging, and I have a lot of confidence in our intermediate program.”