PENSACOLA, Fla. – His car may have been battered and bruised, and “it certainly didn’t look pretty,” but Christopher Hogan survived a wild Modifieds of Mayhem 75 Friday night at Five Flags Speedway, charging from 24th to 12th in the process.
It was a night in which the 18-year-old shook his head in stunned shock and smiled about when all was said and done, having weathered an early crash to nearly earn a career-best during Snowball Derby weekend.
“It was very interesting, I’ll say that. I can’t believe we just did that, honestly. After the first big wreck, I thought I was done, but my crew did a great job to repair this thing as best we could so I could get back out there and finish the race.”
After a tough qualifying effort, in which he missed the top 20 lock-in by a tenth of a second, Hogan raced his way into the main event by finishing fourth in the 20-lap Last Chance Showdown and then wasted no time in moving forward once the green flag dropped, advancing five spots in the first five laps.
But Hogan’s night nearly ended on lap 13, when multiple cars crashed just in front of him in turns three and four, leaving him nowhere to go as he plowed into the aftermath and sustained heavy damage to the front bumper and right-front corner of his No. 81.
“There were about three cars stuffed one on top of another one in front of me, and by the time I could do anything I had another one stuffed underneath my rear bumper and it was on from there,” said Hogan. “Whenever they all get sideways like that, there’s not much you can do. I had to run into the side of the one in front of me, and after that all I could hear was scraping sheet metal and I was praying.”
A valiant effort by his crew got the damage repaired enough for him to continue, and he resumed at the tail of the field in 21st. From there, Hogan spent the middle stages of the race battling a “wicked loose” race car, getting lapped by Augie Grill but holding steady and methodically passing cars in the top 20.
“We struggled with setup all day, but finally got it pretty close to where I wanted it for the beginning of the feature. After the wreck, it wasn’t quite there, but we got faster at the end and I just had to pace myself because the motor was overheating a bit.”
Though a late caution pinned him a lap down in 13th after he had worked his way through a slew of traffic, Hogan hung on to the end and picked up one more position when early leader Cody Stickler retired with six laps remaining.
Hogan’s 12th-place finish was one to remember, not only because of the result, but because of the roller-coaster of emotions he endured to get there.
“It was about a 12 on a scale of one to ten,” Hogan admitted about the stress of the night. “The hardest part for me was the possibility of the motor blowing. I’ve been in wrecks and dealt with wrecked cars before, but I can’t imagine losing a motor because we’re a budget team and it would have devastated our plans for next year if we had blown up before the end.”
And as far as the impact of a budget team finishing among the heavy-hitters of the division on the biggest weekend of the year?
Hogan was all smiles about that, too.
“It means a lot,” he said. “It’s great when we can come out here and show some of these teams that have way more money than we do that we can still race just as well as they can with a lot less of a budget.”
“It’s a huge blessing for us as a team and we couldn’t be more grateful to celebrate a good run tonight.”
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network, as well as a periodic contributor to SPEED SPORT Magazine.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
Email Jacob at: [email protected]
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