Carson Hocevar burst on to the short track racing scene in 2017 as a 14-year-old after becoming the youngest winner in JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour history, winning three races and nearly winning the series title. His time in the series has been limited over the last couple years as his schedule has been filled with Super Late Model and ARCA Menards Series commitments with KBR Development, but he remains a threat to win anytime he shows up.
After competing in the ARCA Menards Series race at Iowa Speedway this Friday night, the Portage, Michigan driver will make his first JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour start of the year at the Masters of the Pros 125 at Memphis International Raceway. Despite having only one other Late Model start under his belt so far in 2019 in the Berlin Raceway season opener, he feels he and the KBR Development team will be one of the teams to beat come Sunday.
“I think we’ll be pretty good, we have those few hours on Saturday to really get a good notebook for the weekend,” Hocevar told Speed51.com. “I haven’t been in a Pro Late Model in a few months now, but I think everybody at KBR Development can always put together a good Late Model. I think we’ll be pretty stout going into the weekend, or at least hopeful we’ll be very competitive.”
After winning four races in two years and nearly winning the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour title in 2017, it will be his first series start of the 2019 season. He is looking forward to getting back in the Pro Late Model and finding more success in a series that helped jumpstart his career.
“I’m not a big Cup guy or anything like that, I haven’t had a lot of big success going back to my roots, but to go back to a series that’s still strong, somewhere that I found success before,” he said. “We hope to repeat that success going into the weekend, you always have confidence that you can go do it again. The JEGS Series and everybody at CRA has put together a really good series. They’re the ones putting it on so I’ve got to really appreciate them.”
This year’s Masters of the Pros is a hard race to prepare for with Memphis International Raceway’s unique 3/4-mile tri-oval layout. With Late Models not having raced at Memphis in six years, Hocevar has used past NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and even old NASCAR Xfinity Series races to prepare for this weekend.
“It’s tough to do when there’s not been a Late Model race there,” he said. “You just got to go back and try to watch as many races as possible. I know K&N’s gone there a handful of times, and I’ve gone back and watched old Nationwide (now Xfinity) races even, just to see all the characteristics of the race track and see what everybody seems to do and how it translates throughout a race, from qualifying to two-hundred laps into the race. We’ll just have to wait and see how everything plays out, I think we’ll learn the most on Saturday and we’ll take what we learn on Saturday into Sunday.”
Saturday’s practice session will play in important role in who goes to victory lane on Sunday. Hocevar thinks the winner will be the driver who adapts to the 3/4-mile tri-oval the fastest, and he mentioned the most recent Late Model winner as the driver to beat.
“It’s going to be whoever learns the track the fastest,” he said. “You’ve got to adapt; Late Models haven’t been there in a few years. A lot of these guys that are entered haven’t been there before. I believe Brian (Campbell)’s been there before a few times, so I think he’s going to be right off the truck, probably one of the best to guide off of.”
Ultimately, he says the Masters of the Pros will need to be approached just like any other Late Model race.
“It’s just going to take patience, it’s pretty much just like a regular Late Model race,” he said. “You’re going to have to be there at the end, have tires, you just going to have to be in the right spot at the right time. There’s a little luck and a little strategy involved, but it’s going to take getting adapted to the race track.”
Race fans unable to make it to Memphis this Sunday will be able to watch the action via a live pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com. Live video tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com