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Carson Hocevar crashes in Cup Series debut, says he's still grateful for opportunity

by Daniel McFadin | June 4, 2023 at 7:34 p.m.
Corey LaJoie's No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet is shown during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., in this March 12, 2023 file photo. The car was driven Sunday, June 4, 2023 by Carson Hocevar during the Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Ill. (AP/Darryl Webb)

MADISON, Ill. — Carson Hocevar had a “secret goal” for his NASCAR Cup Series debut.

“To show speed and run up front and feel good,” Hocevar said.

He did just that for the first 90 laps of Sunday's Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Substituting for Corey LaJoie in his No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet, the 20-year-old from Portage, Mich., was running in 16th — 15 spots ahead of LaJoie in Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 9 Chevy — when Hocevar smacked the outside wall going toward Turn 1.

The culprit: A broken brake rotor that wrecked the right-front wheel of Hocevar's car.

Under the ensuing caution, Hocevar, whose full-time job is racing in the NASCAR Truck Series, brought the car to pit road.

After assessing the damage, crew chief Ryan Sparks told Hocevar, “You're done.”

“Thanks for the opportunity, man,” Hocevar radioed back.

Moments before, he had been on his way to potentially being the story of the evening. Instead, he was the first car out of the 240-lap race.

“Not disappointed at all. I had fun,” Hocevar said after leaving the track’s infield care center. “I’d rather have speed then break running good, than run bad. Thankful that Spire Motorsports gave me this call. They might have been crazy for giving me this call. But I just hope that I might get more calls.”


Hocevar is two months removed from winning his first Truck Series race. In that time he’s also made his first three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts and earned two top 10s, at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

On Sunday, he got to run near the front half of the field.

“I held my own running against my heroes,” Hocevar said. “That's all I wanted to do. And all I wanted to be was upfront. I was running 26th at the time early and we were battling with Kyle Larson, who won the championship two years ago and these guys race hard.

“I had the time of my life.”

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