Kaden Honeycutt
(Photo: Zac BonDurant/ARCA Racing)

How Kaden Honeycutt managed a championship weekend that featured four races on two coasts in two days

Kaden Honeycutt is willing to do whatever it takes to keep alive his dream of one day racing in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Even if that means traveling across the country to run four races in two days.

In the busiest weekend of his young career to date, Honeycutt competed in both the ARCA Menards Series West and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series finales at Phoenix Raceway on Friday before heading to North Carolina to participate in Pro Late Model and Late Model Stock events at Caraway Speedway the following afternoon.

Honeycutt‘s efforts resulted in a West Series owner‘s title for Steve McGowan, a career-best finish in the Truck Series, a Pro Late Model victory and a top 10 in the Late Model Stock race after starting at the rear of the field.

Running four races in two days on two coasts finally took a toll on Honeycutt when he climbed out of his Late Model Stock, but he was proud of everything he accomplished across the grueling schedule.

“I was not very good after the Late Model Stock race,” Honeycutt said. “As soon as I was finished, I was definitely tired. Everything hit me all at once, but I went home, went to bed and got right back up at 8 a.m. It was tiring but very well worth it.”

Kaden Honeycutt (17) and his team celebrate the 2023 ARCA Menards Owners Championship in victory lane after the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 100 for the ARCA Menards Series West at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Arizona, on November 3, 2023. (Zac BonDurant/ARCA Racing)

The idea of such a marathon weekend never crossed Honeycutt‘s mind when he initially planned out a busy 2023 that would include races on both dirt and paved tracks.

Everything was put into motion when Honeycutt was contacted by MMI Racing about finishing out the final four events on the West Series calendar following the departure of Landen Lewis. Having worked with MMI Racing co-owner Bruce Cook in the Truck Series earlier in 2023, Honeycutt expected solid results from the first race.

What followed was an efficient stretch that saw Honeycutt win twice and lead a combined 296 of 300 possible laps in those victories. A ninth-place finish in the West Series finale at Phoenix was all Honeycutt needed to secure MMI Racing the owner‘s title over Venturini Motorsports, which he obtained after overcoming a flat tire earlier in the day.

Previous experience on the ARCA platform and paved short tracks made the quick transition into the West Series much smoother for Honeycutt, but he considers himself fortunate just to have the opportunity to help MMI Racing reach a pivotal milestone as an organization.

“In the 17 years Steve McGowan has been racing, that was his first ever championship as an owner,” Honeycutt said. “That was really cool, and I‘d love to do some more starts for him next year. We‘ll see what the future holds, but we did what we were supposed to do, and we‘ll keep moving forward.”

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 03: Kaden Honeycutt, driver of the #02 RANDCO Industries Chevrolet, drives during qualifying for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Craftsman 150 at Phoenix Raceway on November 03, 2023 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Honeycutt could only celebrate the West Series owner‘s title with McGowan and Cook for so long, as he had to climb into the No. 02 for Young‘s Motorsports for the Truck Series finale that same evening.

Through an eventful final 50 laps that saw title contenders get into each other and four overtime attempts, Honeycutt rebounded from falling a lap down early in the first stage to establish himself inside the top five with an opportunity at obtaining an upset victory.

Rather than interfere with the championship battle and risk tearing up his truck, Honeycutt played the final restart of the night safe and was rewarded with an eighth-place finish, eclipsing his career-best Truck Series run of ninth at Phoenix the previous year.

“I thought I was going to be able to win the dang race,” Honeycutt said. “Unfortunately, that didn‘t work out. I told my spotter Reed Sorenson that we just had to finish that race off without getting crashed. We gave way to Ben [Rhodes] and a couple others to keep our finish intact, and we capped it off with another top 10 [in 2023] with Young‘s Motorsports.”

Once Honeycutt decompressed after a stressful finish to the Truck Series finale, he took a red-eye flight to North Carolina for his two races at Caraway, only getting about three hours of sleep in the process.

With a relatively quick turnaround between racing on two different coasts and adjusting to the time zone changes, the only thing Honeycutt did to prepare for Caraway while on the flight was bolster his physical stamina ahead of 225 more laps of competition.

“You have to get yourself hydrated again and put some food in your body way before the race and let it settle,” Honeycutt said. “There was nothing special I did, but I wanted to make sure I had some energy to burn off during the race.”

Honeycutt arrived at Caraway at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday morning, roughly 10 hours after the Truck Series checkered flag at Phoenix and two hours before the start of the Pro Late Model feature. Although he got in limited practice at Caraway earlier in the week, missing time trials on Friday meant Honeycutt would have to come from the rear in both events.

Whatever fatigue Honeycutt was dealing with did not manifest when the first green flag waved. He climbed from 13th to first in 60 laps to win the Pro Late Model feature before settling for sixth in the Late Model Stock race after starting in 25th.

Despite being physically and mentally exhausted at the end of his fourth and final race, Honeycutt enjoyed every moment out on track and hopes the consistency he displayed between four different disciplines showcased how versatile he can be behind the wheel.

“Being able to succeed in four different series is definitely a good thing,” Honeycutt said. “You always have to find a way to adapt in any situation you‘re in. We had to get up to speed right away because there wasn‘t any time to mess around. Thankfully we did that and managed to have a good weekend.”

Kaden Honeycutt waits for the opening ceremony to start during the 2023 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire at Tulsa Expo Raceway in Tulsa, Oklahoma on January 14, 2023. (Nick Oxford/NASCAR)

With everything he accomplished from his coast-to-coast marathon, Honeycutt remains optimistic about landing a full-time ride somewhere in 2024.

As he continues to search for the proper funding to obtain that goal, Honeycutt knows the best way to market himself is to capitalize on all available opportunities, which he said was the point of running four different races in such a short amount of time.

Honeycutt took great pride in what he achieved at both Phoenix and Caraway. The journey may have been demanding, but it only served to reinforce the confidence Honeycutt has always possessed with his driving ability.

“Everything went about as good as it could have gone,” Honeycutt said. “This was such a cool deal, and we really wanted to make something special out of it. It‘s very fortunate we were able to make this weekend happen, and it ended up being a cool story.

“Hopefully we can do more stuff like this in the future.”

Honeycutt‘s plans for next season are currently uncertain, but he is determined to keep proving himself so he can chart his own sustainable path towards the top levels of NASCAR.