Hocevar Rallies Late, Wins ARCA/CRA Opener

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Hocevar Rallies Late
Carson Hocevar in victory lane at Lebanon I-44 Speedway Saturday. (Jeremy Thompson photo)

LEBANON, Mo. – Carson Hocevar had the dominant car in Saturday night’s ARCA/CRA Super Series opener at Lebanon I-44 Speedway, but after he cut a right-front tire with 18 laps to go, his chances of putting his familiar No. 14 in victory lane appeared slim.

The 17-year-old wasn’t about to give in, however.

With a stirring drive, Hocevar rallied back through the field from 10th and ultimately passed Stephen Nasse on the final lap of the 125-lap Lucas Oil Show Me State Showdown for his first ARCA/CRA Super Series victory.

While it wasn’t necessarily the way Hocevar had in mind to get there, Hocevar wasn’t about to turn down the opportunity to be back standing in victory lane once again.

“Man, I wanted to just drive off and leave them all,” Hocevar told SPEED SPORT by phone after the race. “But after we lost the right front tire, it was massive urgency (to get back to the front). I knew there weren’t that many laps to go – I wasn’t sure quite how many – but I knew every little bit was going to mean a lot. I didn’t even get to Nasse until we were going into turn three with two to go, so we almost didn’t have enough time to do it.

“I knew I cut (the tire) down off of turn two, and after that it was just about needing to make up for that mistake and that issue,” he continued. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get all the way back, but “I’m glad I picked my moves carefully and was able to get back through the way we did. Ultimately we got it done tonight.”

Saturday night’s score not only thrilled the fans in attendance, it snapped a winless streak for Hocevar dating back to his most recent JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour win at Auto City Speedway in 2018.

Carson Hocevar en route to victory lane Saturday night at Lebanon I-44 Speedway. (Jeremy Thompson photo)

In addition, the victory came just three weeks after the announcement that KBR Development – the team Hocevar drove for in 2019 in both late model and ARCA Menards Series competition – was shutting its doors and ceasing operations.

That, combined with his struggles just to get back to victory lane after a winless 2019, meant that this particular triumph was extra special in Hocevar’s mind.

“This win means everything,” he noted. “I’ve never gone winless in my life, and last year to not win at all … that was really tough, but to win the first time out (after the COVID-19 pandemic) is insane and to win my first major super (late model) race on a big stage like this is unbelievable.”

After inheriting the lead following Hocevar’s cut tire, Nasse finished second, followed by Kyle Crump, Travis Braden and Michael Simko.

Bubba Pollard, who finished a disappointing 18th in the super late model affair, topped Cole Williams in the 100-lap JEGS CRA All-Stars Tour pro late model race that served as one of two support classes Saturday night.

Colby Lane won the CRA Van Hoy Oil Street Stock 75-lapper.

The finish:

Carson Hocevar, Stephen Nasse, Kyle Crump, Travis Braden, Michael Simko, Chris Davidson, Josh Brock, Hunter Jack, Boris Jurkovic, Sammy Smith, Cody Dempster, John DeAngelis Jr., Logan Runyon, Mike Wallace, Mark Neff, Jack Dossey III, Jaren Crabtree, Bubba Pollard, Jake Garcia, Greg Van Alst, Augie Grill, Cody Coughlin, Austin Kunert, Michael House, Brian Campbell, Jerry Andrews.