Carson Hocevar has been an up-and-coming name in the short track racing scene for several years now, though he is just 16-years-old. Three years removed from his Berlin Raceway Super Late Model win at just 13-years-old that garnered national headlines and the attention of NASCAR officials, the Portage, Michigan driver spent much of 2019 in the ARCA Menards Series and has even made a NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series start with another one coming before the season concludes.
But before his next Truck start with Jordan Anderson Racing next weekend at ISM Raceway, Hocevar will hop back in a Super Late Model with KBR Development for the 35th Annual All American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville on November 31.
The All American 400 will be his first Late Model start since the World Stock Car Festival at Winchester Speedway on Labor Day weekend and just his fifth of 2019. He joined Speed51.com’s The Morning Bullring Monday to talk about his maiden All American 400 attempt this weekend.
“I’ve been talking on the phone non-stop to my guys and stuff seeing what they got planned. I think they got a lot of cool ideas,” Hocevar told Speed51.com’s The Morning Bullring. “I’m pretty excited for it. I had a schedule conflict for the Winchester 400 so I wanted to make sure we get down to one of these crown jewels for sure.”
Hocevar has competed at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville twice in both a Super Late Model and in an ARCA car, but the All American 400 presents a different challenge with more laps than both his previous starts combined. Despite the extra-distance in the event, his team’s approach remains the same.
“You just got to go into it like any other race. We’re going there to win the race,” Hocever stated. “I wouldn’t be as eager to go and we wouldn’t put all this time and effort into it if we didn’t think we could at least run good and at least have a shot to win it at the end of the deal,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to finish 400 laps before you win the thing, but I think we’ll unload halfway decent and we can just work on it from there, fine-tune some stuff and get it comfortable, and just take it from there. You’re going to have a handful of pit stops throughout the race, you’ll have time to adjust on it if you miss on it a little bit, which is nice.”
After being a mainstay in Super and Pro Late Models in 2017 and 2018, this season saw Hocevar and KBR Development make the jump and compete mainly in the ARCA Menards Series. In 12 ARCA races, he finished in the top 10 in all but two starts, with a career-best finish of third at Salem Speedway in April. Hocevar admits his season in ARCA wasn’t quite up to par with where they wanted to be.
“I think we struggled a little bit more than what we kind of wanted to,” he said. “We all wanted to win, we all wanted to run a little bit better than what we thought we ran this year. People outside our circle was telling us we were running pretty good and doing a pretty good job for our first year and whatnot, but we’re all real hard on ourselves to run good. We were running fourth to sixth every week but we wanted to be in the top three and gunning for wins every week.”
May’s ARCA race at Nashville saw Hocevar finish fourth after a strong run through the field during the 200-lap affair. While a Stock Car and a Super Late Model may have its differences in how they drive, he says some things remain the same as they look to take what they learned from that race and apply it to this weekend’s All American 400.
“Luckily in the ARCA car in the spring we had a lot of long runs. You’re able to fill your notebook but at the same time you’re able to see what line works on restarts and see how to get around,” he said. “If it’s a Street Stock or an ARCA car or a Truck or whatever you still get around the race track pretty much the same way. You just fill your notebook and you take it with a little bit of a grain of salt, but the same basics apply when you come to the race track.”
After being forced to miss out on the Winchester 400 due to scheduling conflicts, Hocevar is looking forward to getting back in a Super Late Model for the All American 400 and next month’s Snowball Derby, this time with experience in different forms of short track racing that also includes an attempt in the Tulsa Shootout last January.
“It’s really cool but at the same time everybody’s like, ‘You’re a NASCAR/ARCA guy’ and I’ve only ran one Truck race. I don’t know if I would call myself a NASCAR guy or anything,” he stated. “You take the role once you get to that level but it was only one year ago where that was all I was doing. I haven’t had enough time to really take it to home of going back to the grassroots, going back to Berlin. You’re coming back home and I’m like, ‘I was only here like last year.’ But it’s really cool, Super Late Model racing, you can’t beat it at all. It’s true short track racing and the entry list is so big, it’s going to be a real good show.”
Race fans unable to make it to Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville to watch Hocevar chase an All American 400 victory will be able to watch the race via a live pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com. Click here to purchase your PPV ticket today.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com