Carson Hocevar won six races in 2020, but none of them have prepared him for the possibility of a rattlesnake being wrapped around him in victory lane at South Alabama Speedway.
As he prepares to make his second Rattler 250 start in a little over two weeks, he expressed his disdain for snakes and what would happen if he finds victory lane on Sunday, March 14.
“I am petrified of snakes. It would be how long from out of the car if I do win to if my crew guys give me a hard time, it would be a split-second decision,” Hocevar joked. “If the adrenaline’s worn off I think I might freak out a little bit and not let that thing near me, but if I’m still pumped up I’d let that thing around my neck.”
Hocevar made himself one of the hottest commodities in Super Late Model racing in 2020, taking wins in the Winchester 400, Redbud 400, Money in the Bank 150 and Show Me State Showdown. In terms of marquee wins, it’s hard to name a driver who was better last season.
Now a full-time competitor in the NASCAR Truck Series, Hocevar will use the off weekend to get back in a Super Late Model and try to recreate the 2020 magic.
“We were joking about it, at this time last year we were doing our first test at Kalamazoo watching qualifying for the Rattler. I didn’t get to run last year because we weren’t ready yet with our new team and new cars,” he told Speed51. “Coming off a pretty good year last year, to come back to the Rattler, I’m pretty excited for sure. I’m anxious to see where we stack up.”
It was a resurgence year of sorts for the now-18 year old, after going winless in 2019 and winning just once in 2018. While last season was a year of highs for Hocevar, it also saw its share of lows late in the season.
With newly-found confidence, he heads into the new year with a similar Super Late Model schedule, but with new plans to race in the Southeast more often.
“I think it was pretty big for me. As a driver, when you go winless it’s hard on you. Your job is to win races and when you don’t win your job’s not fun. To go win like we did in such dominant fashion. We obviously had some lows, racing there at the All American and then the bad run at the Derby, but that’s part of learning.
“I think that’ll make us better, now it comes to where we run more in the south this year. It sucks to suck at times, but it’s how you capitalize and I think we’ve already made it ten times better after finding out what went wrong, so we won’t be scratching our heads next time.”
Hocevar’s one previous Rattler 250 start came in 2018, finishing 11th in what was one of his first-ever Super Late Model starts for the now-defunct KBR Development. He has used the struggles from that event to help himself become a better driver in the Super Late Model ranks, and he hopes to bring it back to that event that got him started.
“I learned a lot of what not to do. That was one of my first big Super Late Model races and I was 13 or 14. I struggled myself just on hitting lines. Our cars weren’t great so that threw my confidence all out of whack, like I was doing a bad job. We would constantly butt heads on what the car was doing and what I’m telling it to do.
“It was really nice to have a group of guys that have faith in you and what you’re talking about when you’re giving feedback. We’re all trying to make each other better, both the car and myself instead of just trying to point fingers the last time I was here.”
The Rattler 250 kicks off another busy year of Super Late Model racing for Hocevar, along with a full Truck Series schedule. He looks to start off 2021 the same way he kicked off 2020 – with a big win.
“It would be pretty big for me. It would cross one off the bucket list, I still have a long way to go on that list but one step at a time is how you’re going to have to mark it. If we can start the year off right with one of these big wins, I think it’ll keep the momentum going. I have a lot of Super Late Model races planned for this year, I won’t say we can win all of them but we’re definitely going to try our hardest to do that.”
Multiple viewing options will be available for the Rattler 250 on March 12-14. Premium subscribers can watch the event free with their subscription, while a PPV ticket will also be available. Click here for more information.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo