CRA STARS Shine During ASA STARS Tour Opener on SaturdayScott Menlen
Nashville, TN (Tuesday, March 14, 2023) – The ASA STARS National Tour kicked off the 2023 season on Saturday at 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. As part of the 35-car field were drivers with ties to Champion Racing Association (CRA) including former champions, event winners, and series regulars. An enthusiastic and anxious crowd filed in and tuned in for the Sunshine State 200.
Of those with close connections to CRA is the event winner, Casey Roderick. A 20-time ASA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS competitor, Roderick is no stranger to success within CRA. In those 20 starts, the Anthony Campi Racing driver has finished in the top 10 15 times, top 5 10 times, and has four wins to his credit. Roderick finished 5th in his first career start at the Winchester 400 and is the 2020 All American 400 Champion. Roderick led the final 29 laps en route to the ASA STARS Tour Inaugural event win.
Finishing fourth at the ASA STARS National Tour opener was Hantsport, Novascotia’s Cole Butcher. The 26-year old made two starts with CRA in 2022 at two of the premier ASA/CRA Super Series events, the Redbud 400 and the Winchester 400. In his first start in each event, Butcher brought home 8th and 9th place finishes respectively. Butcher, who rolled off 21st on Saturday, got to the front of the field quickly, taking the lead from Craig on lap 80. Butcher fell outside the top 10 in the first two stages, but kept his car out of trouble throughout the course of 16 caution flags, and cracked the top five late in the race.
Behind Butcher, finishing fifth was Portage, Michigan’s Carson Hocevar. Hocevar is a familiar face with CRA, competing in nearly 60 events between the ASA/CRA Super Series and the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance. Hocevar, now a championship contender in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, had a banner 2020 season, winning the Redbud 400, Money in the Bank 150, and Winchester 400. Hocevar’s ASA STARS performance was memorable as well, starting 17th before getting shuffled back to the tail of the field. Hocevar recovered quickly getting to the front, leading laps, and finishing third at the end of Stage 2. Hocevar’s car didn’t fire as well as everyone else’s for the final stage, as he settled for fifth.
Other notable CRA drivers inside the top 10 included Roscoe, Illinois’ Austin Nason. The No.14N came from 15th to finish 7th at the end of 200 laps. An 11-time ASA/CRA Super Series competitor, Nason was in contention to win the 2021 Redbud 400 before falling to third. Matthew Craig, who started 2nd, fell to tenth by the end of the Sunshine State 200. The 2020 Masters of the Pros 150 Winner and 2021 All American 400 Champion had a solid day at 5 Flags Speedway leading the first 79 laps and winning Stage 1.
A tough night for other drivers with a CRA resume, including 2022 ASA/CRA Championship contender, Billy Van Meter. After a crash during practice earlier in the weekend, Van Meter started the 200 lap race in 29th. The Indianapolis, IN native got tangled up in an accident early in the race but continued to battle and finished as the first car one-lap down in 14th. Painesville, Ohio’s, Albert Francis came from 31st to finish 17th, and 2022 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Champion Dakota Stroup moved up 11 spots from 33rd to 22nd.
All results are unofficial and subject to change.
The next event for the ASA STARS National Tour is the Joe Shear Classic 200 from Madison International Speedway on Sunday, May 7th. Advanced tickets are now available here. For more on the ASA Stars National Tour, log onto STARSNationalTour.com. To learn more about Champion Racing Association, log onto www.CRA-Racing.com. Find and follow CRA on Facebook and Twitter.
Story – Zach Hiser, CRA
Photo – Koty Geyer