Carson Hocevar is only 17 years old, but his bucket list is filling up pretty quickly.
The Portage stock car driver has already won three biggies this season when it comes to Super Late Model short-track races across the Midwest, but Hocevar won arguably the biggest of all Sunday afternoon in Winchester, Ind. Hocevar captured the 49th running of the Winchester 400.
Hocevar dominated the race in his No. 71 T.K. Racing/VanDoorn Racing Development Chevrolet. That enabled him to join a list of past winners that includes NASCAR Hall of Fame drivers Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin, along with current stars Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Erik Jones, as well as legendary short-track standouts Bob Senneker and Mike Eddy.
“T.K. Racing and VanDoorn Racing Development have been racing the Winchester 400 for years, and to get them their first Winchester 400 is huge for me, especially being the second 400 for me,” Hocevar said. “It’s huge to click off another crown jewel at just the right time.”
Hocevar announced last month that he will be competing full-time in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series next year with Niece Motorsports. He has run five Truck races with the team this season, and when he hasn’t been competing in NASCAR, Hocevar has been cleaning up on the short-track scene.
His 2020 highlights include victories in the RedBud 400 at Anderson Speedway in Indiana, the Money in the Bank 150 at Berlin Raceway in Marne and the Show Me State Showdown 125 at I-44 Speedway in Lebanon, Mo.
“The Money in the Bank and the RedBud 400 are cool, but to do it in such fashion (Sunday), to lead over 300 laps or something like that at the Winchester 400…I have always had this one on my bucket list,” said Hocevar, the 2017 Berlin track champion. “It is definitely one of the top three races on my list. It means a lot to all of my guys, Butch and Johnny (VanDoorn) and T.K. Racing.
“I had someone ask if it is less of a big deal coming in 2020 with everything going on, if it has been drowned out and if that has frustrated me. I said no. Everybody is going to remember the winner of this, and it will be on the record books. Any time you can win a race it’s a good time. All of the big dogs were here, no matter what is going on in the real world and on Twitter. We are all here trying to win the race.”
Hocevar started fourth in the 29-car field at Winchester Speedway’s high-banked, half-mile. He went on to beat out Kyle Crump of Brighton by five seconds for the checkered flag.
“We got the lead in the first 10 laps and were able to control the pace,” Hocevar said. “(Stephen) Nasse got out in front of us. That was the ticket for us to make our car better. That made us want to take a swing and be better than him. We made our car better, and that was our biggest ticket to drive away at the end.”
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