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Hocevar respects NASCAR decision on Nashville penalty but suggests there’s more to the story

Carson Hocevar showed no contrition for the contact with Harrison Burton at Nashville Speedway that resulted in a penalty handed down from NASCAR this week, saying that SMT data would show a different story.

“My intentions were not by any means to have him [spin] around,” Hocevar said Saturday at the Chicago street course. “I went up to bump him like you’ve seen a thousand times and has happened to me a lot. He wanted to use 1,000 pounds of brake pressure in front of me, and obviously, it happened from that. But if you get in a bar fight or whatnot, the guy who throws the last punch to land somebody on the ground isn’t the one who gets in trouble; it’s the one who initiated it.

“So, moving forward, I just won’t initiate anything like that. If anything, I’ll either talk to him after the race or go up next to him and throw my hand in the air rather than use a race car.”

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When asked if he felt he needed to show anything to the Cup Series field after his penalty, Hocevar said, “No.”

Hocevar was fined $50,000 and docked 25 driver points for hooking Burton under caution at Nashville last Sunday. The incident happened on the backstretch with 58 laps to go. Burton, who was scored 25th at the time of the caution, did not hit anything and avoided being hit by oncoming traffic. Hocevar, who was listed in the 27th position, drove up to Burton’s car under caution and made contact with the right rear.

“If you see the SMT, I think you’ll understand,” Hocevar said of what led to the contact. “I think it shows a different picture completely of the whole situation. But there’s no point for me to release that or do anything. It is what it is and I’ll move on.

“My team is very supportive of me … and they’ve reassured me of that. That’s really what matters to me.”

Hocevar said he respects NASCAR’s decision to penalize him. But that it “doesn’t matter” if he agreed with it or not.

Although he’s a rookie in the Cup Series with Spire Motorsports, it is not Hocevar’s first involvement in a controversial incident. Hocevar has frustrated his fellow competitors with his actions over the last few seasons for questionable single-vehicle spins that brought out a caution or contact with another vehicle.

“Don’t hook anybody,” reigning Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney. “You get penalized: pay money, pay points, park them if you have to. That’s something I’ve seen too many times out of that guy from different series. That’s not cool. Don’t do that.”

Blaney felt NASCAR did the “right thing” by handing down the penalty. The Team Penske driver — an alliance teammate of Burton — was asked if he has any responsibility to talk to drivers about such incidents as a champion of the sport.

“I just don’t see it as my role,” Blaney said. “I’m not going to go to you and say, ‘Hey, don’t do that.’ You should know not to do that. That’s something about growing up and learning that you just don’t do. So, no, it’s not my role to go speak to somebody about that unless I am directly involved in it — then you’ll get a talking to, but you gotta learn that stuff on your own.”

One of the most notable and most recent incidents involving Hocevar was the 2023 season finale at Phoenix Raceway. Hocevar spun fellow Craftsman Truck Series championship contender Corey Heim, which he said was not intentional. However, the frustration from Heim and his team resulted in Heim retaliating, which cost both drivers a shot at the championship.

As to whether his reputation played into the penalty from NASCAR, Hocevar said it was a question for the sanctioning body.

“I don’t know. Maybe,” he said. “You can ask NASCAR that. I don’t know what went into their decision. I think, obviously, my track record is not squeaky clean but I guess you’d have to ask NASCAR in that sense. We’re in their sandbox [with] whether they want to rule on [the] one decision you make or [if] track records probably somewhat play a part.”

Story originally appeared on Racer