The Speed51 Elite Truck Series Pro-Am Jam brought well over 50 entries to the virtual Atlanta Motor Speedway for a 130-lap exhibition. Among the names in the field included former NASCAR Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., defending ARCA Menards Series East champion Sam Mayer, and former Snowball Derby winner and defending ARCA champion Christian Eckes.
It was two rising stars who dueled it out at the end for the race win. NASCAR Truck Series part-timer Carson Hocevar and CRA SpeedFest winner Corey Heim raced nose-to-tail for the final 10 laps before a yellow with two to go ended the race prematurely with Hocevar being crowned the winner.
Hocevar took the lead from Elite Racing Series regular Tate Lightle on a late restart with less than 20 laps to go and he held on until the final yellow. For the Michigan teenager, the caution could not have come at a better time with Heim breathing down his neck.
“I wasn’t going to count him down just like every other restart, that’s for sure. I think he had me there at the end if it went green the last two laps,” Hocevar said on the live broadcast. “I kind of burnt up my right front a little too much trying to make sure (Ryan) Kuhn didn’t get to us. Luckily, the caution came out when it did because he was too afraid to go to my inside because he knew it would give Kuhn the top. It was a race between us there at the end, I was waiting on that yellow to come and thankfully it did.”
The two drivers went into the race as teammates with three other young guns. While limited strategy was used throughout the race, it worked out for the best for both Hocevar and Heim.
“There wasn’t really much of a strategy, just me and Corey and Ty Gibbs and Connor Hall and Christian Eckes were all on TeamSpeak together and me and Corey happened to be up front, so we were able to control the restarts and control track position there too at the end. It was fun, me and him were joking around throughout the race and having a good time. That first stage caught me for a loop, I burnt my stuff up a lot so we made sure not to do that again for this last stage, it ended up real good and we finished one-two.”
Corey Heim led laps and was in contention throughout the event in a Jeff Burton Exide Batteries throwback scheme, but the final yellow ended any chance for a late pass prematurely. With the charging Ryan Kuhn incoming, he had to wait to make any attempt at a race-winning move.
“It was definitely an interesting race. With the official races only being 40 laps having the long-distance race was a whole lot of fun. Me and Carson were working together the whole time playing similar strategies and seeing what we can do to help each other there,” Heim said. “In the closing laps we knew the third place car was going to be really good so I was trying to stay behind him and bide my time until the last few laps. All-in-all it was a fun race.”
Kulwicki Driver Development Program semifinalist Ryan Kuhn finished third for the second time in as many races on Saturday. Elite Racing League GM Chad Frankenfield led the sim racers with a fourth place run, while 2018 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top five after transferring from the LCQ.
You can catch a replay of the Speed51 Elite Pro-Am Jam event at Atlanta Motor Speedway for free by clicking here.
More sim racing is on deck for Sunday on Speed51, including another Elite Pro-Am and the Kulwicki Shootout. Click here to see a full rundown of all the sim racing broadcasts available for free on Speed51.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3