The Mooresville, NC will claim the Germfree Rookie of the Year honors – a prize worth $10,000 – at Charlotte after stellar first year with Tye Twarog Racing on the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model tour. But he’d also like to cap off his impressive rookie season with a top-five finish in Series points… and maybe another win or two.
“To be in control of my own destiny, being more hands-on, and keeping the team in North Carolina made a big difference,” Hoffman said. “[The season] went pretty smooth. I would’ve liked to get more wins than just one, but to get one, I feel like it leads into next year really well. Our car has been fast, and that’s all you can hope for.
“We’re still in a pretty good hunt for a top-five in the championship standings. Going into Charlotte, that’s our main focus is trying to get to the top five.”
His high-performance season in the NOS Energy Drink #9 Late Model started off strong at Volusia Speedway Park during Sunshine Nationals, with a top-five and top-10 finish. It was an early sign of his Modified experience providing comfort at tracks he’d been to.
“Volusia has been one of my best racetracks in all forms of racing,” Hoffman said. “I’ve won a lot of races there. So, I knew starting the year off there would be crucial for my confidence going forward. I was lucky enough that our race car was good and could run up front every night. I felt like what helped was having a ton of laps around there.
“If you look, our best finishes were at places I’d been to before and run well at in my (DIRTcar UMP) Modified. So, going into next year, having a notebook at some of these places that I’ve never even seen before will help us out a lot.”
After scoring four top 10s in the first seven races, Hoffman’s most significant breakthrough came at Stateline Speedway in May. Lining up next to his best friend Gordy Gundaker, he raced with him side-by-side for a lap before taking the lead.
Hoffman went on to lead the final 39 laps, earning his first victory at a place he never expected it to happen.
“I was able to get to the lead right away and clear him and kind of set the pace from there,” Hoffman said. “Looking back on it, it all happened so quick that I don’t really remember how it all went. I felt like I would’ve been more emotional in Victory Lane. I don’t remember what I said or anything because it all happened so quick. Then, you move on to the next day. It was super cool to get that, and it helped us out to get through those summer months of making sure we ran good and staying on top of things.
“That was a neat racetrack. A place I’ve never seen before. If I would’ve looked at the racetracks, that wouldn’t have been a place I would’ve picked to be that good at. To run well, there was a big momentum swing for us.”
Since that historic night in May, Hoffman has been battling for the fourth spot in the World of Outlaws CASE Late Model standings. He currently sits sixth in points, only 10 points out of fourth.
Entering the three-race weekend, Kyle Bronson, who’s in fourth, is only 42 points ahead of defending Series champion Dennis Erb Jr., who’s ninth. There’s a $32,000 difference between fourth and ninth. The driver who finishes fourth wins $75,000, while the driver who finishes ninth gets $43,000.
With those final three Features on the horizon, Hoffman said he thinks the first night of World Finals, where the Series runs two Qualifying sessions, will be important.
“World Finals is totally different than most of these Outlaw races,” Hoffman said. “We’re going to have all of the heavy hitters there from all forms of Late Model racing. That makes it difficult. In an Outlaw race, it’s a little easier to drive from 20th to say 15th. Now that you have all of those guys, it’s going to be tough to get a top-five or compete for a win.
“If you put yourself behind at the beginning of the night, it’s so much harder to dig out of that hole for a guy on this weekend than it is anywhere else. You just have to look at it and try and finish ahead of those guys. It’s going to really come down to those Qualifying laps more than anything. Charlotte is a place I really enjoy, and I was able to make some laps earlier this week and felt really good. So, I look for a decent run there.”
While Hoffman made laps during a test session, he may also have another advantage over his competitors. The five-time DIRTcar Summit Equipment Modified Summer Nationals champion plans to race a Modified during the World Short Track championship Oct. 26-28—an event he’s won three times.
He said any laps on Charlotte’s surface are critical to learning the track conditions for World Finals.
“I was able to make some laps there [Monday] and see the track transitions, where the grip goes and stuff, and that’s what I’ll be looking for the most in the Modified is where the racetrack ends up racing,” Hoffman said. “I was talking to the guy that prepped the racetrack, and he was talking about the things they did differently with the soil and the way the racetrack has been blowing off and stuff.
“We saw a little bit of that [Monday], and then we will for sure in the Modified. Just how much the track slows down and where the racetrack races. Whether it becomes more bottom dominant or moves up the track, I feel like that’s definitely to build a notebook on.”
No matter what happens when the season concludes at Charlotte after the World Finals, Hoffman has accomplishments he can be proud of. However, as he looks back on 2023, he isn’t satisfied with those milestones.
“I’m pretty hard on myself, so I’d say (this season’s) right around a C,” Hoffman said. “We won some non-outlaw races throughout the year, and to win one [Series] race was pretty cool. I feel like for next year, I’ll definitely be more focused on winning races and getting top three in points. I was able to get to second at one point there and got close to Bobby, and then it went to shambles during the summer.
“For me, it’s just staying on top of it and not having issues. And me as a driver not making as many mistakes. That’s what it’s going to take. Bobby hasn’t made any mistakes all year and will obviously be crowned a champion. It’s fun to race on this [Series], and I’m excited to do it again next year.”
Hoffman and the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models conclude the 2023 season at The Dirt Track at Charlotte for the World of Outlaws World Finals Nov. 1-4, along with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars and Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds. For tickets, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision, either online or with the DIRTVision app.