Chase Elliott’s suspension has opened up unexpected opportunities for this weekend’s Cup Series race at Gateway. Not only will Corey LaJoie run a Cup Series race for Hendrick Motorsports, and Carson Hocevar will get his first career Cup Series start. It has been quite the road for Hocevar to get to the Cup Series, so how did he get here?
2018-2020: Late Model/ARCA Success and First Truck Series Starts
Carson Hocevar first showed up in the ARCA Menards Series in 2018 at the age of 15. In his second career start, he won the pole, finishing fourth at his home-state track Berlin Raceway in Michigan.
Still too young to run the superspeedways, Hocevar entered 12 ARCA Menards Series Races in 2019, earning his second career pole at Salem and 10 more top-10 finishes. He would also get his first career Truck Series start for Jordan Anderson at Eldora, finishing 26th. However, he got seven more Truck Series starts in 2020 for Niece Motorsports.
Hocever impressed enough to be signed on for a full-time ride with Niece Motorsports for the 2021 season. He also won the prestigious Winchester 400 late model race in Winchester Speedway in October of 2020 as well. For perspective, this is a race won by drivers such as Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliot, and Erik Jones.
2021-2022: Adversity in the Truck Series
Still a relatively new team, Niece Motorsports and Hocevar went through some struggles during 2021 and 2022. In 2021, Hocevar started the season with his best career finish of fifth at Daytona. After that, six straight races outside of the top-10. He would rebound with finishes of third, seventh, and second at Darlington, COTA, and Charlotte respectively.
Hocevar qualified for the playoffs in 2021, but he was eliminated after the first round. In 2022, Hocevar and his team got a little bit better. He equaled his amount of top 5s from the season before going into Gateway, when a hard crash caused Hocevar to sustain a broken ankle.
How did he respond? He nabbed his first career pole at Sonoma the following week, but would have to drop to the back due to a crash during the session. Hocevar would qualify for the playoffs once again, but he failed to win a race, finishing second three times. He would find himself in the center of controversy for crashing Colby Howard at IRP during the first race of the playoffs, but his talent was starting to show through.
2023: Hocevar Breaks Through
In 2023, Hocevar was signed by Spire Motorsports to run part-time in the Xfinity Series, while still maintaining a full-time Truck Series schedule. It has been an up-and-down year for Hocevar with him getting his first win at Texas in controversial fashion. However, he also had a tough outing at Martinsville finishing 34th after being held for two laps due to rough driving.
With that being said, Hocevar nabbed two top-10s in his first three career Xfinity Series races. He finished sixth at Darlington and eighth at Charlotte.
When Corey LaJoie was announced as the replacement for Chase Elliot at Gateway, Spire Motorsports called up Hocevar to fill in. It will be Hocevar’s first career Cup Series start.
It has been an up-and-down ride for Hocevar to get here. However, he is in the Cup Series this weekend, and it will be interesting to see how he does.