There has been plenty of driver movement in NASCAR for next season, and one of the biggest pieces of recent news at the Cup level was the announcement of Carson Hocevar going full time in the series in the Spire Motorsports No. 77 in 2024.
That news has caught the eye of Denny Hamlin — and what news doesn't, as he always has something to say. That was no different on this week's episode of his podcast "Actions Detrimental with Denny Hamlin."
Though he is surprised by Hocevar completely skipping the Xfinity Series, he understands why.
"So, we had some off-track stuff this week. A little bit of news, as far as the musical chairs of seats go. We had Carson Hocevar, who signed with Spire," Hamlin said. "That was not a very well-kept secret there. But great for him. He's going to completely skip over Xfinity and go right to Cup."
Hamlin completely understands why it is the right move, given how well Hocevar has performed in the handful of starts he has made for Legacy Motor Club in the No. 42 car subbing for Noah Gragson, who was suspended and later let go by the team.
"So, I think a lot of that has to do with results that he's had when he's subbed so far for Noah Gragson. He's had some great results," Hamlin said.
Hocevar's opportunity is very similar to how Hamlin's Cup career began. Hamlin only made a handful of starts in a truck and the Xfinity Series before going full-time Cup racing in 2006.
Though Hocevar's rise has been fast, Hamlin doesn't expect him to be running right at the front every week, especially with the equipment Spire has. But he does expect Hocevar to be consistently running around where his now-teammate Corey LaJoie runs on a weekly basis, which is between 20th-25th with the opportunity to finish higher depending on the track.
"I would say, they should probably, the expectations should be for him to run probably on average maybe two, three spots worse than what he's currently running in the No. 42. That's just a guess. I have no idea. But that would put him in the range of kind of where Corey (LaJoie) is at," Hamlin said.
The No. 77 currently isn't running very near, if anywhere near, where LaJoie does; but Hamlin thinks that with Hocevar piloting the No. 77 next season, that is a good goal for his rookie season.
"I think Carson should, in my opinion, should probably run as good as Corey LaJoie. That would be a good expectation next year for him to run," Hamlin said.
Hamlin seems to like what Hocevar is doing and appears to show some belief in him. It will be interesting to see if he has the same opinion if the two ever have an issue on the racetrack.
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