Carson Hocevar adjusted quickly to his JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Pro Late Model on Saturday at Memphis International Raceway (TN), setting the fastest lap of the day during practice for Sunday’s Masters of the Pros 125.
The Portage, Michigan racer competed Friday night in the ARCA Menards Series at Iowa Speedway (IA), finishing fourth in the event. On Saturday, he unloaded a fast race car at the 3/4-mile oval in Millington, Tennessee, with a best lap of 22.761 seconds.
In some ways, going from one D-shaped oval in Iowa to another in the Volunteer State has been helpful according to Hocevar, even with the vehicle swap.
“It’s pretty good,” Hocevar said about his car. “KBR Development really unloaded well. Coming from Iowa has really helped me adapt as quick as we have. I think we have a really good piece, just fine-tuning a bit.”
Hocevar is also enjoying the opportunity to climb back in a Pro Late Model for the first time since a fourth-place run in the 2018 Snowflake 100.
“It’s a blast. I’m really enjoying my time here,” said Hocevar. “I don’t get to do this as much as I’d want to. We haven’t been in the Pro Late Model since December.”
Hocevar was fastest in the first and third practice sessions of the day, with only Augie Grill preventing Hocevar from a sweep of the three practice sessions. The Alabama racer turned in a 22.910-second lap during the second hour of practice.
“So far, so good,” said Grill. “As long as we can keep the stagger on it, we’ve been good every time we’ve been on track. It’s pretty fast, and the place seems like it’s going to be pretty racey.”
While there wasn’t on-track competition during the practice day on Saturday, everyone in attendance was competing with the impressive heat throughout the Eastern United States. The heat index stayed above 105 degrees throughout the session.
Grill admitted it gets tougher with each passing season to battle the heat and humidity of the south, but was able to take solace in the advancements of modern racing.
“It’s rough,” said Grill. “It’s getting rougher every year. I’m almost 43 now. It takes its toll on everybody, but men have been doing it since the ‘40s and ‘50s and had a lot less equipment than we do now. If they did it then with the tanks they had to drive, we can do it now.”
Another driver not letting the heat get him down was Brian Campbell. The Michigan native was getting a sampling of Southern heat waves, but the extended practice session allowed Campbell to pace himself throughout the day.
“It’s a different kind of heat down here in the south,” said Campbell. “We’re doing alright, taking our time. It’s rare we get this long of a practice. We’re having fun and enjoying ourselves.”
Campbell is an accomplished racer in both the Pro and Super Late Model, and he is currently the all-time wins leader in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour with 10 victories to his credit. This weekend, it is the Pro Late Model getting the workout.
“It’s a challenge to run back and forth between the two,” said Campbell. “We run the car way looser in these guys. It’s fun, it’s a fun car to drive. It just takes some getting used to.”
Campbell is one of the few drivers in the Masters of the Pros field with experience at Memphis, the new site of the $10,000-to-win event. Current All-Stars Tour points leader Dan Leeck leaned on Campbell and other veterans for advice entering the weekend, his first at the venue.
“We’ve got a couple of things to work on the car, but for right out of the trailer, we’re pretty good,” said Leeck. “You lean on a lot of people that have raced here before. I did a lot of calling, talked to Mike Garvey. He’s ran here a couple of times. Brian Campbell, thankfully, all them guys were able to answer a lot of my questions.”
The JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour teams return to the track Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Central for a final round of practice before qualifying for the Masters of the Pros 125. Qualifying will take place at 2:30 p.m. Central, with the green flag for the event scheduled for 5 p.m. Central.
Fans unable to attend the event in person can watch it live on Speed51’s pay-per-view broadcast of the event. Click here to order now.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo