Carson Hocevar Scores Career-Best Cup Finish at Gateway

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

The return to World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, the site of his NASCAR Cup Series debut, proved to be the best race at stock car racing’s top level to date for Carson Hocevar.

Carson hocevar earned his career best finish in the nascar cup series at world wide technology raceway at gateway.
(Photo by NKP/Nigel Kinrade Photography)

The Spire Motorsports driver quietly moved up the running order in the Enjoy Illinois 300. Hocevar broke into the top-10 towards the end of Stage 2. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender held off a challenge from Austin Dillon when the caution waved for a crash between Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson on the final lap of the Stage. Hocevar inherited eighth as Stage 2 ended under caution.

The nature of the 1.25-mile track meant that Hocevar’s track position aided his run throughout the final stage of the 300-mile race. A caution-free final stage meant that the Portage, MI native was able to maintain his spot inside the top-10. A clean round of green flag pit stops allowed Dillon to leapfrog Hocevar, dropping the No. 77 Zeigler Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 down to ninth.

The Chevy driver closed in on Christopher Bell’s failing Toyota Camry as the laps clicked off. Although Hocevar ran out of time to catch and pass Bell, he slipped by Ryan Blaney after the race leader ran out of fuel with just over a lap to go. When the checkered flag waved, Hocevar was eighth.

“This No. 77 Zeigler Auto Group Chevy team did a really good job with everything all race long,” Hocevar said. “We had a really slow stop at the beginning of the race with a lug nut coming off. That really put us behind. We knew we had a great Chevy, so we just did everything we could.

“We played strategy a little bit to make sure we were on the right end of it. We caught the caution right, but then after that, our car was really good. We ran as high of fourth and we were catching third. Our lights were off, so we were a little slow down pit road. That was probably the difference of getting a top-five finish or not. All-in-all, it was just a really good job by this No. 77 team.”

Carson hocevar earned his career best finish in the nascar cup series at world wide technology raceway at gateway.
Photo by Nigel Kinrade/Nigel Kinrade Photography.

After starting 20th, Hocevar was one of the few that pitted under the early cautions in Stage 1. During those pit stops the lug nut fell off one of the wheels, forcing a slow stop. Luckily, the team caught the miscue and replaced the lug nut before Hocevar left the pit box.

The eighth-place finish is Hocevar’s second career top-10 finish and the best of his Cup career. It comes at the track where he made his Cup debut, filling in for Corey LaJoie last season.

The eighth-place finish moved Hocevar up from 24th to 21st in the points standings. The 21-year-old is 275-points behind leader Denny Hamlin and 109 behind the playoff cutline, currently held by Chris Buescher.

Next for Hocevar is the Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. He has one pole in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at the 1.99-mile road course. Hocevar has never competed in a full race at the track, being relieved by Daniel Suarez in the 2022 truck race due to an injury suffered at Gateway the week prior. He also has not competed at the track in the Cup Series.

The Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway is scheduled for Sunday, June 9 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX. The race will also be broadcast on both the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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