Honeycutt Puts Together A Career Night In Kansas

4 MAY 2024 During the HEART of AMERICA 200 at KANSAS SPEEDWAY in KANSAS CITY, KS (HHP/ Tim Parks)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Though many have spoken highly of Kaden Honeycutt’s prowess behind the wheel of a late model over the years, Saturday night marked a career-defining moment for him in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

The 20-year-old native of Willow Park, Texas, made a roaring charge through the field early at Kansas Speedway – climbing from 23rd on the grid to fifth in just 25 laps – then stayed among the top contenders the rest of the night.

In fact, the Niece Motorsports young gun appeared to have a Chevrolet Silverado RST capable of challenging for the win in the second half of the Heart of America 200, moving from third to second following a lap-68 restart and settling in quickly behind leader and eventual race winner Corey Heim.

Honeycutt remained within striking distance for the first half of the last green-flag run, as the final stage ran caution-free throughout. He took several stabs at getting alongside Heim for the top spot, but could never quite muster enough speed to complete the pass.

From there, a small snag with the four-tire change on his final pit stop with 38 to go saw Honeycutt lose some time in the lead battle, cycling out in fourth place behind Heim, Zane Smith, and Christian Eckes.

Honeycutt held that track position to the checkered flag, earning his career-best Truck Series result and his third top-10 finish in four starts this year in the No. 45 Silverado for team owner Al Niece.

On a night where expected championship contenders Heim and Eckes were largely the class of the field, Honeycutt felt afterward his team “belonged on that lead stage” with the speed they had in the race.

“I can't say enough about (crew chief) Phil Gould and all my guys for building an amazing truck,” said Honeycutt, who wheeled the truck that Carson Hocevar led 32 laps and finished sixth in last September.

“Obviously, I wanted to be better there myself; [we] just needed to clean up on pit road. I lost too much time on pit road, so I'll just have to go back and look at [the tape] and see where I can be better,” he continued. “I wouldn't even be here without Al Niece, (team general manager) Cody Efaw, (longtime supporter) Tony Valento for everything that they do for me, so thank you to all of them. My mom and dad as well, without them I wouldn't be here at Kansas or doing any truck racing whatsoever.

“I know I’m getting better, but it definitely sucks to come that close [to a win] and not finish it off. But still, it was a great run for us and I’m really proud.”


Honeycutt circled his time fighting for the top spot Saturday as “a huge learning moment” for his growth in the Truck Series. He’s come into his own through the springtime and feels ready to continue his recent momentum.

“I’m so glad I was finally able to run up front with those guys and experience what that was like,” he noted. “That’s what Al Niece brought me on to do and I learned a lot about how to deal with the situations I was put in up at the front. Racing the 11 [of Heim], I probably could have been more aggressive on the restart to try and take the lead from him.

“For a team that does all of its work in house now, this was a great day for our [fabrication] shop, and proved that we have the equipment capable of challenging for wins like this team has in the past.”

Perhaps the biggest asset in Honeycutt’s corner has been veteran crew chief Phil Gould, who guided Ross Chastain (2019) and Carson Hocevar (2023) to Championship 4 appearances over the past half-decade.

A seven-time winning crew chief in the Truck Series, Gould now has a third aspiring young gun in Honeycutt that he’s mentoring toward victories, something the Texas driver called “crucial” for his team.

“I can’t even explain how good that guy is,” said Honeycutt of Gould. “He’s just a great person to be able to lean on for any type of situation that I’m in, and he makes me confident that I’ll always have a fast truck wherever we go. Now it’s up to me to learn and get better, and when we come back for the playoff race [at Kansas] in the fall the goal is to show out like this again and try to be a few spots better.”

Though he didn’t leave the Sunflower State with a trophy, Honeycutt left with something almost as important – confidence – that will prove important as he strives to take the final step into victory lane.

“You’ve got to crawl before you walk, right?” Honeycutt mused. “This is the start of something in our part-time schedule, and hopefully we can click off our first win at Charlotte in a couple of weeks.”

Chastain will return to the seat of the No. 45 for Truck Series races at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway before Honeycutt’s next start with Niece Motorsports, which will come at Charlotte Motor Speedway during Memorial Day weekend.

Coverage of the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte is slated for Friday night, May 24 at 8:30 p.m. ET, live on FS1, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.