It's Win the Show or Be The Show for Hocevar at Speedfest

The 2020 CRA Triple Crown champion embraces the mystique of Cordele

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Carson Hocevar almost got away with it.

Having posted the third fastest time in time trials, he was convinced he drew a ‘1’ on the Coca-Cola can redraw, but it was actually a ‘7,’ and he couldn’t walk away before the truth was revealed. This actually makes it sound dramatic and nefarious, but it was all in good fun.

There’s no recount needed and Hocevar is convinced he will get to the front regardless and it’s not a bad draw anyway.

Starting seventh means he will take the green flag on the preferred bottom groove and he should be able to pick off a position or two within the first couple laps.

Hocevar is back for his second full-time season in the NASCAR Truck Series in 2022 with Niece Motorsports following a campaign in which he turned heads as an emerging top prospect. Those who have watched the now 19-year-old competed in Super Late Models aren’t surprised.

He was the youngest Super Late Model winner in Berlin Raceway (MI) history, and the prized pupil of 2008 Truck Series champion Johnny Benson, before validating it all with victories in the Money in the Bank at Berlin, Redbud 400 and Winchester 400 in 2020.

Hocevar views Speedfest as an equally important race and feels confident about adding the trophy to his resume on Saturday afternoon.

"We’ve been in a good spot all weekend," Hocevar told Racing America. "It’s not normal in these big races to be on top of the speed charts and we have been, and we’ve not mocked up or anything. Our fire off speed is really good and we learned a lot at the Derby that I think will pay off for us in our Super Late Model races this year."

Hocevar finished seventh at the Derby in December, which says a lot because Pensacola has challenged him over the past half-decade with two DNQs and a 35th place finish in his debut. But his latest result was a positive development and one he believes will pay dividends at Cordele on Saturday, too.

"You might not think it but this place has a lot of characteristics of Pensacola, especially off Turn 2, how low you enter and how you have to wrap the line," Hocevar said. "It’s 3 and 4 that’s more unique and gives you multiple options to play around with.

"But I just feel like VanDoorn Racing Development is in a good place right now and we’ve come here not needing to rebuild our notebook. Everyone is energized for the year and we’re just building on something. We’re all really excited."

Hocevar is even excited for the potential to be in some stereotypical, predictable Speedfest drama. If he is as fast as it looks like he has been all weekend, he knows it’s just as likely that he’s involved in the dramatics as winning the race.

"I mean, you know, I want to be a story, whether it's good or bad," Hocevar said. "You don't want to be the bad, but ..."

You either want to win the show or be the show.

"That's exactly it," Hocevar said. "I struggle with that mentality sometimes, but racing is good entertainment and it's supposed to be fun. This is a place where you can race hard and expect to be raced hard back. ... There's a lot of good cars here, and I just hope we end up on the good end of the stick."