Hoar and RPM Motorsports Finish 9th in World Crown 300
Posted By Rick Paya On August 15, 2014
This past Saturday, in the prestigious World Crown 300 at Jefferson’s half-mile Gresham Motorsports Park, Hoar and his Rick Paya-led RPM Motorsports team finished ninth in a stout 26-car field that boasted some of the nation’s best Super Late Model competitors. He did so despite suffering a cut left-front tire and pounding the turn two wall, ending his night while running fourth with 42 laps remaining.
The entire event was just further proof that no matter where in the country he might be, on a racetrack Hoar feels at home.
“That was some hard, hard racing, I’ll give credit where credit’s due,” Hoar said post-race. “These boys race hard down here. These Supers are cool; they’re great cars.
“And kudos to my guys. They worked their butts off, did a lot of great homework and gave me a car that was competitive. That’s all I can ask for.”
The attrition rate was high in the 300-lapper, as just a handful of cars remained on-track at the finish. Georgia driver Casey Roderick won the race after performing a bump-and-run on Kyle Grissom in turn three during the final circuit.
Hoar’s journey to the Super Late Model circuit was a long time coming.
He grew up watching northeastern legends like Junior Hanley and Robbie Crouch on the old ACT Pro Stock Tour, but by the time he came of age in the mid-1990s the cars were being phased out in favor of the ACT-style Late Models that are found in many parts of the northeast today.
Hoar set the northeastern racing world ablaze in a variety of cars for two decades, winning eight ACT championships, three Milk Bowls and a Thunder Road track championship, complemented by a Busch North career in the early 2000s that featured one win, 23 top fives and 44 top 10 finishes. Still, his chances to drive a Super Late Model remained few and far between.
For 2014 Hoar and his longtime car owner Rick Paya finally made their dream of going Super Late Model racing a reality, planning to hit the so-called “grand slam” of Super Late Models with Paya’s RPM Motorsports team. The grand slam races are the World Crown 300, the Winchester 400 in Winchester, Indiana, the All-American 400, which was recently converted to a Pro Late Model event, at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tenn., and the famed Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Florida.
After a CRA race in Columbus, Ohio, where the team planned to get some experience, was rained out in June, the RPM group focused its attention on Gresham. The venerable World Crown, today sanctioned by the Southern Super Series, has a list of winners that includes names such as Dick Trickle, Darrell Waltrip and Chase Elliott.
“The track is beautiful,” Hoar said. “I knew the place was nice, I didn’t know it was this nice. It’s very smooth...you carry a lot of speed through the corners.”
After setting the 13th-, fourth- and second-fastest times in practice during Thursday’s, Friday’s, and Saturday’s practice sessions, respectively, Hoar set a time of 16.982 in qualifying, which meant the No. 37 Goss Dodge Charger would roll off seventh in the 300-lap main event.
Hoar believed that he adapted quickly to the Super Late Model world because even though many of the components are not spec-mandated as one might find on an ACT car, the weights, wheelbases and overall geometry are not that different.
“There’s a lot of similarities between this and the Late Models I run at home,” he explained. “A Super Late Model has bigger motor, bigger tires, and it has some more expensive technology in the suspension but the characteristics are very much the same. (Supers) have a lot more horsepower and a lot more grip but overall they are very similar.”
Always a patient driver, when the green flag flew for the main event Hoar maintained position in the back half of the top ten for most of the first half of the race while he felt out the car and his fellow competitors. For several laps he had the best seat in the house for a side-by-side battle between 15-year- old Spencer Davis and three-time Southern Super Series winner Donnie Wilson, and on lap 176 he narrowly avoided a five-car pileup going into turn three.
Hoar never fell more than one lap down, and as Southern Super Series rules include a NASCAR-style free pass, he received the beneficiary award when the caution flew on lap 183.
As cars continued to drop out due to accidents or mechanical failure Hoar slowly gained positions until he found himself in fifth place when the yellow flew on lap 219. The four cars ahead of him all pitted, while Hoar stayed out to inherit the lead. Weather had been threatening the event all evening, and watching the radar the RPM team decided to gamble and hope the rains came.
They didn’t and Hoar found himself on older tires when the green flag flew.
“Obviously were sitting ducks when the boys came out with fresh tires,” Hoar said. “We totally gambled because we had three phones with radar that said there was rain all around us and we were doing a rain dance there when we were leading under caution.
“(Daniel) Hemric just schooled me on the restart. The next thing I know I’m three wide going into one and two. I had to drop back and gather my wits back up to start fighting and digging again.”
He dug until lap258 when a cut left-front tire also cut short the opportunity for a storybook ending.
In a night with lots of attrition, the night did not lack a bit of drama for Hoar.
The first heart-in-throat moment came when he nearly lost the car on lap 118 while exiting turn four, making an impressive save to get the car righted again even though Augie Grill put him a lap down. Just 15 laps later, Hoar and Wilson got together in turn one after several laps of racing side-by-side, ending with Wilson hitting the wall with the front and back end of his machine.
A visibly upset Wilson unloaded on Hoar, throwing his helmet and HANS device at the No. 37 and walking through the RPM Motorsports pit.
“I guess I’m going to have to watch the replay because I swore I didn’t go up,” Hoar explained, saying he had been enjoying racing with Wilson. “I think he came down and tried to take the low line because he knew I was going to use a lapped car on the outside as a pick.”
It was an eventful night and even though he came away with a top-10 finish, the perfectionist in Hoar was not happy with a DNF and a car that needs to be rebuilt. However, he looked at the entire experience in a positive light.
“We learned a lot and it was a fun adventure to come down here,” he said. “To get the car to go as fast as it did and be competitive was really cool.”