JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK
R & R for JHN: John Hunter Nemechek spent the offseason with family catching some rays in the Bahamas and shredding the snow in Aspen, Colorado. He got some reps in on track while competing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge event held at the Daytona road course on Jan. 26 splitting the driving duties with fellow Team Toyota teammates Corey Heim and Bubba Wallace.
The jet-setting Joneses – Like all NASCAR couples, the off-season is the only time to plan personal vacations. Jones and his wife Holly took an extended European vacation. The newlywed Joneses explored the mountains of Switzerland the historic ruins of Rome, and the coastlines of Greece before returning to the U.S. for the holiday season.
Enter Team Toyota: A major focal point of the Club’s manufacturer change to Toyota was in personnel ‘back at the shop’. Many engineering positions were added to the organization and the Club has logged a significant amount of hours on the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) simulator as well as an in-house version of the technology tool.
Pit crew U: Although they won’t be making any pit stops in L.A. this weekend, the LEGACY MOTOR CLUB pit crew has been working hard during the off-season. Led by pit crew coach and longtime motorsports veteran Chris Hall – LEGACY M.C. has added 15 crew members who are 100% dedicated to their over the wall duties.
Singing the “Blues”: As a Michigan native and longtime Detroit sports fan, Jones has been on a rollercoaster of emotions during the month of January. From watching Michigan win the national college football championship to watching his Lions miss their first-ever Super Bowl bid, Jones has embraced it all. When asked about his fandom Jones said “I have really enjoyed the last few weeks. It has been great to see Michigan win the National Championship and also see how well the Lions have been playing. I grew up watching the Lions and even saw the 0-16 season years ago. Regardless of the outcome, I’m proud to be a Lions fan, and even more proud to be from Michigan. It would have been something special to see them in the Super Bowl, but I’m going to Vegas regardless.”
Welcoming new partners to the Club: Several new partnerships have been formed leading into the Club’s 2024 campaign. Dollar Tree and Family Dollar recently announced a 38-race, multi-year agreement in which at least one of the Club entrants will have each brand as a primary sponsor for every race this season. AdventHealth will be the primary race for nine events this season, six with Jones and three with Jimmie Johnson. Carvana returns for their fourth year as a partner of Johnson for three races. Through its relationship with Toyota, automotive tools industry leader Gearwrench has signed on to support the Club’s efforts. Pye-Barker, ROMCO, and grocery store brands, all, Dial, Persil, Snuggle, and BajaVida Beef Jerky have followed Nemechek to the Cup Series. And announced earlier this week, Mobil 1 has extended its partnership with Toyota teams to include primary sponsorship of the No. 42 later in the year.
Past Clash winners: Drivers close to the Club have won the pre-season exhibition race three times. Johnson captured his most recent NASCAR win in this event at Daytona back in 2019, Jones was victorious in the final race held on the traditional Daytona layout in 2020, and Ben Beshore was the winning crew chief while working with Kyle Busch in the event’s lone time held on the Daytona road course the following year in 2021.
Eyes in the sky: Spotters are an integral part of any race team and new to the Club this year is Ryan Blanchard, who will spot the No. 42 Camry XSE. Blanchard is only 20 years old but has prior national series experience through 23XI Racing, TRICON Garage, Kyle Busch Motorsports, and Sam Hunt Racing. Rick Carelli returns as the spotter for the No. 43 with Jones. The former racer and Colorado native has built an impressive on-track resume, being named the 1991 NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour Champion, 1993 NASCAR Winston West Series Champion, and was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2009. Off the track, Carelli is known for his impressive management style working with Ron Hornaday during his 2007 championship. Carelli and Jones joined forces in 2017. Veteran Earl Barban will return as spotter for Johnson’s nine races in the No. 84 Toyota Camry XSE. Barban and Johnson have won six titles together and have been a driver – spotter duo for almost two decades.
John Hunter Nemechek, Driver of the No. 42 Dollar Tree Camry XSE: “With no points on the line, there’s really nothing to lose here. First race getting into the 2024 season I hope to have a solid race with a great finish, and get some momentum on our side. But also it’s a chance to work together as a team on the No. 42 at LEGACY MOTOR CLUB before we go to the DAYTONA 500. We’ve got a new spotter, and Ben and I have worked together but the rest of us haven’t yet. We’re trying to knock the rust off, get the bugs out, and get going for 2024.”
Ben Beshore, Crew chief of the No. 42 Dollar Tree Camry XSE: On his relationship with John Hunter Nemechek: “I felt that last year we were able to hit the ground running and have some early success and build off that as the year went on. Our relationship is really good as far as having a year under our belts and knowing what he wants, and what kind of race adjustments we need when he’s in there battling for position. Having that year working together should really help us get started off quickly here in our first year of Cup together.”
On what is most important in terms of setup at the LA Coliseum: “The big focus is absolutely getting into the corner as hard as you can. You see a lot of guys locking the left-front tire up, so we try to do what we can from a setup standpoint to minimize that. There’s some compromise there, along with trying to turn the middle as good as you can, and trying to get the power down to get a good drive off the corner. Really, trying to figure out what the best global compromise is to satisfy those three conditions the best we can, will translate to fast lap times.”
On his prep for racing in the rain: “Looking back at last year in the All-Star race where they ran rain tires on a damp track, there’s a little bit different package being used with the rain flaps and the wiper. I would suspect if we do race in wet conditions it would be more of a damp-like condition instead of an active rain. Just mainly looking back through our notes in the wet weather testing and some previous events trying to see what guys did to get the best out of their cars in damp conditions. And that’s about it. There are not a lot of data points there to go off, so I think everyone’s kind of in the dark a little bit on what we need for damp conditions, especially on a new track that we don’t have much history on. There’s going to be a lot of guessing and trying to find out what the best strategy is there.”
Erik Jones, Driver of the No. 43 Family Dollar Toyota Camry XSE: “The Clash is an interesting way to start the year, we went there for a couple of years now and I feel like we were all really looking forward to getting there the first year and seeing a new venue and trying something unique. We had a good run last year, but the day was cut pretty short. Hopefully, we have a great run and start the year off strong with Family Dollar and Toyota and be able to put together a solid run for them. So, I am going to take it in and make the most of it, hoping to come out with a good day.”
Dave Elenz, Crew chief of the No. 43 Family Dollar Toyota Camry XSE: On the changes made from year to year: “This is our third year going into the Clash, and you have a lot more knowledge than you had the first time. There were a lot of unknowns about what the track was going to be like, and how it was going to race. We know a lot of that now; we understand the pavement and how long it is going to take to set in and allow the pace to come in. We have a lot of good notes, and Erik has been really strong at that track. I think we have learned a lot on the setup of the car, even though it is fresh pavement, it still holds the same angles and corner radiuses, so I think we have a great plan of what Erik needs to run up front all day. So hopefully we can capitalize on the success that we have had this far.”
On the potential of rain in Los Angeles: “We have rain tires if it rains and a defogger. We don’t have a wiper like we used to have, and I don’t think that changes much. What we saw at the All-Star race last year was the wet weather package was quite similar to the dry stuff. Tire wear is going to be large if it does stop raining, and we haven’t had as much tire wear there in the past. That will probably be the most interesting thing that we have. Other than that, it will be a lot like it is in the dry, especially with a track this short and flat.”
PETTY 75TH ANNIVERSARY
The 2024 season marks a significant milestone in the history of the Petty family as they have helped define stock car racing for 75 years. Their commitment to the sport and the people who make it possible – behind the wheel, under the hood, in the back office and beyond – has shaped the growth and success of NASCAR. Their LEGACY lives on with the countless fans, drivers, technicians and team members they touched. Throughout 2024, LEGACY M.C. will celebrate the Petty family and share countless memories with friends and fans at race tracks across the country.
PETTY 75 HISTORY: Before there was NASCAR at the L.A. Colosseum, there was NASCAR at Soldier Field. On July 21, 1956, the NASCAR Grand National Series (now NASCAR Cup Series) held the 33rd race of its season at Soldier Field – a stadium that has served as the home of the Chicago Bears of the National Football League since 1971. Lee Petty, who was 42 at the time, raced the No. 42 Dodge for Petty Enterprises in the “100 Miles at Soldier Field” event, starting and finishing 10th.
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