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NASCAR Cup Madison

First NASCAR Cup start "means the world" to Carson Hocevar

Carson Hocevar has spent countless hours driving a virtual NASCAR Cup Next Gen car, but he was still caught off guard with the chance to drive a real one this weekend.

#77 Carson Hocevar

Hocevar, who has competed fulltime in the Truck Series since 2021 and made his Xfinity Series debut earlier this season, has been tapped by Spire Motorsports to make his Cup debut Sunday at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis.

Hocevar, 20, will fill in for Corey LaJoie to drive Spire’s No. 7 Chevrolet. Lajoie is on loan to Hendrick Motorsports this weekend to drive its No. 9 Chevy in place of Chase Elliott, who was suspended for one race by NASCAR earlier this week.

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“It’s a dream come true regardless of whose car it is. It means the world whether you’re driving the car that’s first in points or the car 38th in points on Sunday,” Hocevar said.

“There were a lot of times (sponsor) Worldwide Express wanted me at the race track on Sunday last year and I sat there hoping one day I’d get to have a driver’s suit on getting to that point.

“A lot of those thoughts came to mind when I found out I’d finally get to drive the car on Sunday. I work really well and love everybody at Spire Motorsports. They trust me enough to drive their Sunday car.”

Earlier this year, Spire announced it would field Hocevar in six Xfinity races during the 2023 season.

He’s made two starts so far in its No. 77 – at Darlington, S.C., and this past weekend at Charlotte and been impressive in both races, finishing sixth and eighth, respectively.

“Those two races, I didn’t know I was auditioning for a Sunday ride,” he said.

Not completely inexperienced with Next Gen

While Hocevar has no on-track time in the Cup Series’ Next Gen car, he will not enter this weekend completely blind.

For the last year-and-a-half, Hocevar has done work in the Chevrolet simulator with the Next Gen car for Trackhouse Racing.

“I do a lot of work when Ross (Chastain) and Daniel (Suarez) can’t get in, so I’ve gotten to learn this car a lot,” he said. “For me, I’ve just wanted to drive the (real) car once, whether it was a wheel-force test or something, just to help them out.

“I take my role as a sim driver very seriously and I want to be as good as I can. The first thing they texted me (on Wednesday) was, ‘You finally got your wish. You can actually feel what it’s like.’

“I already sort of have a hint at how I’d like the car to drive like, which I think is helping me a lot. I feel I’m prepared as I can be.”

 

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