Carson Hocevar’s NASCAR dream Cup Series debut came to an abrupt end in Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300. Now he’s just hopeful that another one will come.
The Craftsman Truck Series regular was called up for a shock Cup start by Spire Motorsports early in the week, filling in for Corey LaJoie in the No. 7 Chevrolet while he substituted for the suspended Chase Elliott at Hendrick Motorsports. It continued a relationship between Hocevar and Spire that’s seen him make a pair of Xfinity Series starts that ended in top-10s this season, while also competing full-time in Trucks for Niece Motorsports. Hocevar entered with high hopes but minimal expectations, hoping just to put together a clean race, be competitive and reach the checkered flag.
For 90 laps, the Michigander impressed. Hocevar out-qualified LaJoie in 26th on Saturday and climbed inside of the top-20 with a strong opening run. He was running 16th on lap 90 when a broken brake rotor sent him into the outside wall in a race-ending crash.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 4, 2023
The stat sheet will show Hocevar as a last-place finisher in his debut. But the 20-year-old prospect was just happy to have been competitive after he was cleared at the infield care center.
“I had a blast,” Hocevar said. “I’m just so thankful for the opportunity.
“I don’t have a job for next year. I know (Niece Motorsports co-owner) Al Niece and (general manager) Cody Efaw are sitting there, (wanting) me to run for them. And I’ll forever run a race, or however many.
“But man, I’m just so thankful. Premier Security (Solutions, sponsor) gave me the opportunity to drive an Xfinity car. Now I was driving a Cup car and I was running 16th. It’s just so surreal. First time ever. I thought we were going to have a good day and be in a good spot.”
Garage 56: Jenson Button on the first outing at Le Mans in the NASCAR Chevy Camaro ZL1 Cup car
Garage 56: Scrutineering at the 24 Hours of Le Mans
Custer fends off Allgaier for fiery Portland Xfinity win
With his one-off Cup run complete, Hocevar will return his focus to NASCAR’s other national series. He has four Xfinity starts remaining with Spire and sits eighth in the Truck Series standings with a win at Texas Motor Speedway.
But Hocevar will also keep wishing for another opportunity to showcase his talents at the Cup level.
“(Thanks to) Schluter (Systems). Celsius. Spire. (crew chief) Ryan Sparks,” he said. “Hopefully that call for a Cup ride isn’t the only one I get in my lifetime.”