This past Saturday night, a 13-year-old piloted a Super Late Model to victory lane in Michigan.
Yes, a 13-year-old.
That 13-year-old is Carson Hocevar, and the track in Michigan is Berlin Raceway, one of the most challenging short tracks in America.
Hocevar, a soft-spoken kid, started the 60-lap feature from the sixth position. It didn’t take him long to get out in front of veteran drivers like Terry VanHaitsma and Tim Devos. Hocevar took the lead on the 17th lap and didn’t look back.
The only thing Hocevar worried about was a late-race caution.
“When I got to the white flag I was just really hoping there wouldn’t be a yellow the next time I came out of turn four,” Hocevar told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “When I saw the checkered flag all of the pressure went away and I was just super excited after that.”
Every time someone hears that a kid as young as Hocevar is racing a Late Model the same debate begins. “That’s too young,” the doubters say. Hocevar is hoping this win will silence some of that.
“There’s always doubters, but I feel like we proved a lot of them wrong who feel I’m too young.”
One person who hasn’t doubted Hocevar is former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Johnny Benson. Benson has taken Hocevar under his wing and has mentored the young teenager for much of the last year.
“He’s taught me a ton. From just shifting and the basic stuff and more stuff I need to know in the shop,” said Hocevar. “I’m still learning a lot from him so obviously he’s been a very big help.”
At the start of 2016, the goal for Hocevar and his team was to score a top 10. They quickly did that, so since then the goals have gotten a bit loftier.
“Then the goal became a top five. We got that,” he said. “Our next goal was a win followed by a championship. Now our next one is the championship for the end of the year.”
Entering Saturday’s race, Hocevar was sitting sixth in the Berlin points standings, 60 points back of the leader.
Hocevar and his team have accomplished every other goal they’ve set this season. He still has a few more races left to see if he can accomplish the biggest one of them all.
Oh, and did we mention he’s just 13 years old?
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Tom De Vette Photography