Money in the Bank.
By any measure, winning one or two of these marquee Super Late Model races would constitute a memorable season, but Carson Hocevar has now swept all three of the traditional CRA Super Series majors, and that list doesn’t even include his opportunity to win the All-American 400 and Snowball Derby over the next two months.
Driving the T.K. Racing No. 71 for Johnny VanDoorn and crew chief Butch VanDoorn, Hocevar first took the lead before a lap 10 restart and maintained it off-and-on throughout the second longest race of the year, leading every lap from 280 to the finish.
“This is a testimony to what T.K. Racing, Johnny and Butch put into their race cars,” Hocevar told Short Track Scene after the race. “(Kyle Crump) ran second to us (in a sister VanDoorn Development chassis) and we wanted to beat them, of course, but we had identical cars. Brand new cars with the same set-up and we finished 1-2 with them. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.”
Behind the VanDoorn Development drivers was Stephen Nasse.
One year after leading 392 of 400 laps, Nasse and the Jett Motorsports No. 51 once again showed race winning speed but suffered a litany of problems that he could not overcome, finishing third and the last car on the lead lap.
First, Nasse was one of dozens of drivers sent to the rear of the field during a Lap 5 caution after coming down pit road and cleaning from front bumper of debris after the race started on a dirty track and then suffered a mechanical problem that caused his engine to overrev while idling on pit road.
He overcame these two issues to take the lead just past halfway, but then ran out of fuel on Lap 280 to bring out a caution, losing a lap in the process. He would get a free pass the following caution, but just used up too much of his car trying to get back to the front, and never had the track position he needed after running out of fuel.
“First of all, this isn’t a lack of effort from my team,” Nasse said. “No matter how hard I can be on them over the radio in the heat of the moment, they work their tails off and I don’t want a different group going to the racetrack with me. They’re the best in the business.
“What happened today was just a lot of misfortune. We had the throttle hang up. We’ve run this car all week and I hadn’t felt that at all, it starts as soon as the race starts, so we’re trying to fix that and got around. Then we ran out of gas and that was hard to swallow.
“We came back through the field, got the free pass, and the front two cars were equal to me. If I had track position, I don’t think they could have touched me. I think that showed in the race. I was one of the only guys passing on the bottom, but once I got to them, my stuff was just too worn out.”
Crump ran second or third all race, depending on where Nasse was, and was really pleased to finish the Winchester 400 — much less come out second.
“I think we’ve ran 13 races this year, and had only finished two of them,” Crump said. “This is a brand-new car and I didn’t want to have something happen to it. It was nice to get back on track and finish this race. We’ll take this one today.”
Back to Hocevar, this season has been a welcome development, following his struggles and adversity in 2019 behind the wheel of a Super Late Model.
He’s made a handful of NASCAR Truck Series appearances, and will be full-time at Niece Motorsports next season. He opened the return from the coronavirus shutdown with a win at Lebanon I-44 Speedway in May and then won the CRA Triple Crown races.
On one hand, it was a much-needed boost of confidence, but on the other, it’s unfortunate that so much is happening in the world right now because his season and has kind of fallen under the radar.
“When you win races, no matter what’s going on in the world, it’s a big deal to us,” Hocevar said. “Our name is on the trophies. That’s a big deal to me.
And now his attention turns to the remaining marquee events at Nashville and Pensaocla.
“I wish this was like 2016 when CRA had the bonus for their Triple Crown,” Hocevar said. “We would have been 100k richer, but we still have three trophies and I don’t think anyone had me as a favorite this year after how I performed. I really hope we can keep this going.”
The race only featured one multi-car incident and that transpired on Lap 120 when Chandler Smith suffered a flat tire and suddenly ducked down on the apron at Turn 4 and caused a stack-up behind them that eliminated Jack Dossey III and Kodie Conner — who had nowhere to go. Smith only lost a lap after changing the flat and finished 10th.
“I saw them wrecking in front of me, and I checked up the best I could,” Conner said. “I just got pile driven from the back and it ended our day prematurely. I never had the chance to make a long run in practice so I wanted to see what the car could do.”
Similar story for Dossey:
“Just nowhere to go,” Dossey said. “Kodie and I had nowhere to go and we kind of tried to do the same thing and it was a chain reaction. I ran into the back of him and it ended our day.”
Bubba Pollard made his first start in the Winchester 400 in five years, but qualified 23rd and never found a comfort level with the handling of his car, and he dropped out shortly after Lap 100.
- Carson Hocevar
- Kyle Crump
- Stephen Nasse
- Brandon Oakley
- Mason Keller
- Sammy Smith
- Cayden Lapcevich
- Jeff Fultz
- Travis Braden
- Chandler Smith
- Josh Brock
- Greg Van Alst
- Michael Simko
- Dan Leeck
- Zachary Tinkle
- Chase Burda
- Cody Coughlin
- Dalton Armstrong
- Augie Grill
- Albert Francis
- Jack Dossey, III
- Brandon Varney
- Kodie Conner
- Dakota Stroup
- Hunter Jack
- Jake Garcia
- Bubba Pollard
- Jake Hinton
- Jaren Crabtree