XENIA —If a classmate asks him what he did over the summer, 14-year-old Carson Hocevar will have a really good story to tell them.
With his Chevrolet late model smoking more with each lap of Sunday’s July 9 inaugural Gem City 100 Champion Racing Association-sanctioned auto race, the Portage, Mich. racing phenom nursed the car to the finish line to become the series’ youngest race winner in series history.
“By lap 20, the car was smokin’ and my feet felt like they were on fire! Luckily, we had a caution and that was able to cool things down some,” Hocevar said. “I was just hoping we didn’t have another caution. I knew the thing was way under power, and I knew I was losing time about as much as I could. I just wanted to get it over with. That was probably the longest final 50 laps of my life!”
Hocevar, who leads the Rookie of the Year standings in the Jeg’s CRA All-Star Series, finished ahead of Wheeling, W.Va. veteran Travis Braden by 1.416 seconds at the finish line. Beavercreek’s Brandon Oakley was third, and rounding out the top-10 were points leader Jack Dossey III of Indianapolis, Grove City’s David Carter, Josh Brock, of Corbin, Ky., Ortonville, Mich. driver Michael Clancy, Clyde’s Jack Smith, Orland Park, Ill. driver Anthony Danta and Batavia, Ill. driver Austin Kunert.
In the early going, it looked as if Kil-Kare regular Drew Carlson of New Bremen was going to run away with the race. He’d built a 4-5 second lead over Hocevar through the first 39 laps, but when another Kil-Kare regular (Kody Evans) collided with the back end of another car to cause a four-car accident on lap 39, Carlson had nowhere to go and crashed into Evans, ending his day.
Oakley was initially running second at the restart, but Braden got around the local hotshoe with 20 laps to go to try and chase down Hocevar, whose car smoked more with each turn. Typical laps take about 13-14 seconds around Kil-Kare’s paved tri-0val, and Hocevar had nearly a half-lap lead on Braden and Oakley at that point.
“I was trying to save the engine as much as I could, trying not to stay on the throttle as much, but with Braden and Oakley coming up behind me, I just did all I could to stay out in front,” Hocevar said.
Under the guidance of former NASCAR driver Johnny Benson, Hocevar has slowly made his way up through the ranks of short-track auto racing. He has 79 USAC-sanctioned quarter midget victories to his credit. His career was curtailed last season when NASCAR implemented a rule stating drivers had to be at least 14 years of age to race on NASCAR-sanctioned tracks. Hocevar joined the Jeg’s CRA All-Star Series and has been a success on the track ever since.
The All-Star series heads to Marne, Mich. to race at Berlin Raceway on Saturday, July 15. Hocevar is now third in the series point standings.
More information on the JEGS/CRA All-Star Series can be found at cra-racing.com.
In local Gem City Auto Racing feature races, Kettering’s Donnie Sites held off Ryan Fleming of Xenia to claim the 35-lap Modified feature win, Riverside’s Bo Hoelscher won the 20-lap Compact Division feature by almost three seconds over the next closest competitor to earn his second straight series win, and Columbus’s Phil Gussler Jr. out raced fellow Columbusite Jacob Muncy by 1.3 seconds to win the 20-lap Street Stock finale.
The Gem City Auto Racing series is scheduled to return to Kil-Kare on Sunday July 23 for a full program of racing.
You can contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.