NCWTS: John Hunter Nemechek Talks 2017 Season, Ongoing Youth Movement in NASCAR

NCWTS: John Hunter Nemechek Talks 2017 Season, Ongoing Youth Movement in NASCAR Getty Images for NASCAR

John Hunter Nemechek, a 19-year old racer from Mooresville, North Carolina, is the son of former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racer Joe Nemechek. Nemechek never been a stranger to NASCAR. Back in the day, Nemechek would always attend races to watch his father get after it behind the wheel.

His father Joe Nemechek has 1,120 starts across the NASCAR Camping World Truck, XFINITY, and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since making his NASCAR National Series debut at the age of 25 in 1989. Across the three-national series, he holds 20 victories, 95 top five and 204 top 10 finishes.

Since 2014, with the exception of last season, Joe and John Hunter Nemechek have made numerous Camping World Truck Series starts together. Nemechek spoke on how special it is to have the opportunity to race with his dad.

“It was definitely special to be able to run races with him,” Nemechek said when asked about racing against his father. “We raced against each other in lower divisions, but to be able to race against each other at such a high level in NASCAR, it definitely made a special bond. I think any son and dad combo would love to race against each other. I know Ryan and Dave Blaney have. It’s just a special bond between us that he’s a dad and mentor, fellow competitor, boss, pretty much all of the above.”

The season opener at Daytona International Speedway went well for the family-owned racing team. Nemechek started 19th and took home a fourth-place finish in the No. 8 Fire Alarm Services Chevrolet. The second and third race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway ended early for the young driver. Nemechek finished 29th at Atlanta and 28th at Martinsville due to mechanical issues. This past weekend at Kansas Speedway, the No. 8 Chevrolet team took home a third-place finish. Nemechek spoke about his outlook going into the summer months of the schedule.

“I feel like we’ve had good trucks everywhere we’ve went,” Nemechek continued. “We overcame a lot at Daytona as we ended up finishing fourth. We were running fourth at Atlanta and fourth at Martinsville and we had mechanical failures. It definitely kinda stinks. Hopefully we’re getting all of the bad luck out of the way at the start. We’ve found some four-leaf clovers the past couple of weeks that we’ve been off so they are in the truck with us.”

“We definitely want to be able to win races, make the Chase, and compete for the championship,” Nemechek said when asked about his goals for the rest of the year. “Overall we just wanna run good and run upfront. That’s the biggest thing for us.”

One of the things that impacts drivers a lot in NASCAR is sponsorship. Many opportunities for drivers do not happen because of this major hurdle. With being impacted by this, Nemechek told SpeedwayDigest.com that it is frustrating when your sponsorship deals fall through. Though he’s always been taught that hard work pays off at some point. He also noted that you must run good, have to be able to win races, and you have to have a great group of guys around you to compete with the big boys.

One of the hottest topics among the fans is the current schedule for all three-national series. Some say they’d like to see more short tracks and more races on the Camping World Truck Series slate because of the two one month breaks at the beginning of the season. Nemechek offered his thoughts on that topic.

“It’d definitely be cool to go to more short tracks. I like short tracks,” Nemechek exclaimed. “That’s what I grew up racing in Late Models and everything else I’ve ever run. To run these old historic tracks with a lot of history would be a lot of fun.”

Austin Cindric, another driver part of the NASCAR Youth movement, had some fun this last offseason racing in the Rolex 24hrs at Daytona. Numerous NASCAR racers over the years have also been a part of the most prestigious sports car event all year round in January. Would Nemechek ever consider running the Rolex 24hrs at Daytona or the Indianapolis 500?

“Most definitely! To run the Rolex 24 or Indianapolis 500, anything cross-over wise, would be a blast,” said Nemechek. “As a driver, you want to get into anything that has a motor and wheels on it. So, to be able to go out there and be competitive, I know we saw Jeff Gordon win the Rolex 24 this year. That was pretty special. To be able to go and run the Indianapolis 500 and having the shot to win would be the ultimate dream.”

The NASCAR world is seeing a major youth movement as some of the biggest stars are hanging it up. Carl Edwards announced his retirement in the offseason and Dale Earnhardt Jr. became the latest driver to follow suit. It has created opportunities to allow the young guns to take over their rides such as Daniel Suarez over at Joe Gibbs Racing. Nemechek says that being a part of the youth movement ongoing is special.

“It’s definitely special. You have to be in the right place at the right time,” said Nemechek. “The youth movement coming in I feel like NASCAR is in great hands with all of the young guns coming up through the series. We’ve been trying to make a name for ourselves. I definitely feel like that here in the next couple of years we’re gonna see the youth movement get even bigger into XFINITY and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Since 2012, Nemechek has raced in the annual Snowball Derby race at Five-Flags Speedway. The event is one of the most well-known Late Model races each year in Pensacola, Florida, that feature some of the best drivers in the country. It is the site where Kyle Busch discovered the talents of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie driver Erik Jones and has featured other NASCAR standouts over the years. SpeedwayDigest.com asked Nemechek if he’d like to see more NASCAR veterans race in the annual event.

“Most definitely! Any Late Model race where you can get NASCAR veterans in that race. Kyle (Busch) comes and races some races with us. The Super Late Model program is awesome to be able to go and run. And the Pensacola Snowball Derby, there’s so much history there so when they show up, they’re expecting to win. It’s awesome to be able to race against those guys as you’re learning new things, new tips, and new tricks that they know how to do better than you. So anytime you run against them you’re learning non-stop.”

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series moves onto Charlotte Motor Speedway for Friday’s N.C. Education Lottery 200. The North Carolina native has only one start at the 1.5-mile oval. Last season, after starting 21st on the leaderboard, Nemechek took his No. 8 Chevrolet to a finish of 12th.

After four races in 2017, Nemechek holds two top five and two top 10 finishes, and sits 11th in driver points. The 19-year old racer has an average start of 14.0 and an average finish of 16.0.

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Brett Winningham

Brett has been following the sport of NASCAR since the beginning of the 2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Since Brett was 13, he has had a passion of chasing a job in sports that not many get the opportunity of doing. He has been in the NASCAR media since the middle of the 2010 season. Since then, he has been a part of many racing podcast shows to improve his talents. You can find him on twitter @NASCAR_Brett.