Honeycutt Left Wanting More After Bristol Battle

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Kaden Honeycutt was left wondering “what might have been” after a promising start at Bristol Motor Speedway was challenged repeatedly on Saturday night.

Hoping to capitalize on a career-best qualifying effort of eighth, Honeycutt and the Phil Gould-led No. 45 Niece Motorsports team ended up battling handling woes due to the rapidly changing racetrack in the 250-lap WEATHER GUARD Truck Race for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Working through a tight condition on his Chevrolet Silverado throughout the night, Honeycutt eventually came down for a fresh set of Goodyear tires during the final caution period with 31 laps left.

While it didn’t net him a position increase from where he was prior to the last yellow, Honeycutt was able to work back through traffic to finish 12th, taking a largely clean Chevrolet Silverado RST out of The Last Great Colosseum.

“Man, it’s tough. You want to be happy with a solid day, but after qualifying I really believed we had a shot to contend up there,” said Honeycutt after the race. “We were definitely good in practice and qualifying. When it came to race time, though, and having speed on the tires that we were on … we were OK, but definitely not where I think we expected to be. Happy we didn’t tear too much up, for sure.”

In the first 65-lap stage Saturday night, Honeycutt was able to battle inside the top 10, but faded during the second segment and struggled to rally back from that point on.

“We were able to keep up in that first stage and it was a lot of fun out there, but at the end of that second stage I lost all my track position because we just got tighter and tighter. It was bad enough that we just ripped the cords out of the left front [tire],” Honeycutt explained. “I had no turn at all then and the left rear was absolutely cooked as the run went on. It just was unfortunate to lose all those spots because we never could get it.

“Pretty much threw a Hail Mary there at the end, to come put tires on with 30 to go, because we didn’t really have anything else to lose at that point,” he continued. “We ended up finishing right where we were running at. It’s frustrating mainly because we wanted to come out and win this race and run top five like we shoot for every week. Just flat out missed it this week because the [track] conditions threw a lot of teams for a loop compared to what we’ve been used to here.”

Though some drivers noted the physical grind of the longer, 250-lap distance on the Bristol concrete, Honeycutt was among the crowd that appreciated the test it provided.

“Physically and mentally, I was pretty much able to stay locked in the whole night. It was definitely fun out there, though,” he said. “As a Truck Series, I honestly hope we can do that more and more often, instead of just here or a couple times a season.”

Though finishes of sixth and 12th to open his 12-race Truck Series schedule show plenty of progress for the 20-year-old Honeycutt, he continues to be motivated for more heading into the heart of the year.

“Man, I want to run good with these guys so badly, because they’re so capable of it,” tipped the Willow Park, Texas, native. “It’s hard not to put pressure on yourself when you realize where they finished here the last couple years. Then when you go out and don’t do as well as you think you should have, it kind of brings you down a little bit. But we’re not done. We’re going to keep fighting.

“I’m going to keep working to get better, go to Martinsville for myself, and we’ll see what we can do,” Honeycutt added. “This team struggled a little bit there last year, so we whipped up something that we think will be better off of our sim work. Hopefully it works out like we want and we can run strong, because I truly believe we have all the pieces [in place] to win races.”

Honeycutt’s next Truck Series start in the Niece Motorsports No. 45 Chevrolet will be in the Long John Silver’s 200 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, where he’ll be looking to improve on a 28th-place finish from last spring with Roper Racing.

Coverage of the Long John Silver’s 200 is slated for April 6 at 7:30 p.m. ET, live on FS1, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.