Photo credit: Grindstone Media Group/Shutterstock

Ryan Blaney delivers message after Hocevar penalty

NASCAR's penalty issued to Carson Hocevar has been a topic of conversation in the week leading up to the Chicago races. Ryan Blaney has weighed in with some advice for younger drivers.

"Yeah, don't hook anybody. You get penalized," Blaney told media members ahead of the Chicago Cup race. "Pay money, pay points, park them if you have to."

The incident that drew the penalty occurred at Nashville Superspeedway. Hocevar hooked Harrison Burton in the right rear and spun him under caution. NASCAR did not penalize the rookie driver at the time but chose to fine him $50,000 and penalize him 25 driver points on July 2.

Hocevar, the youngest driver in Cup at 21 years old, told media members in Chicago that he respected NASCAR's decision. However, he disagreed with the assessment that he had intentionally spun his fellow driver.

"My intentions were not by any means to have him (spin) around," Hocevar said. "I went up to bump him like you've seen a thousand times -- it happened to me a lot. (Burton) wanted to use a thousand pounds of brake pressure in front of me, and obviously, (the spin) happened from that.

"If you get in a bar fight and whatnot, the guy who throws the last punch that lands somebody on the ground isn't the one who gets in trouble. It's the one who initiated it."

Ryan Sparks, director of competition for Spire Motorsports, told NBC Sports ahead of the season that Hocevar was a "generational talent." He pointed to the immediate uptick in performance last season when Hocevar took over the No. 42 at Legacy Motor Club. Sparks said it was the team's job to "manage" Hocevar during his rookie season.

The Cup race at Nashville was not the first time that Hocevar has been involved in an on-track incident. NASCAR held him for two laps during a Truck Series race at Martinsville in April 2023 after he tried to hook Taylor Gray. There have been other single-vehicle incidents that have drawn criticism from other drivers.

"That's something I've seen too many times out of that guy from different series," Blaney said about Hocevar. "That's not cool. Don't do that. They parked Layne Riggs for two laps for running through the back of somebody in that truck race at Nashville.

"I think everyone made a big deal when Hocevar did that in the Cup race, and then they rightfully penalized him after the race. That's the only way you'll get that stuff to stop. You have to make them pay a lot of money, fine them from points, things like that. If it's bad enough, make them sit out. You know, that's just stuff that you learn as a young driver."