Toyota Racing – NCS Daytona Quotes – John Hunter Nemechek – 02.14.24

LEGACY MOTOR CLUB driver John Hunter Nemechek was made available to the media on Wednesday prior to the Daytona 500.


How does it feel to be back in the Cup Series and with this team?

“It feels good. I’m ready to get kicked off with 2024 with LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, Toyota, TRD – all of our great partners that are backing us this year. Before we can hit the ground running, a lot of great pieces, and key people – a lot of great hires, I feel like, in the offseason, and a lot of great resources. Now it is time to put everything to use and have the best possible result that we can get, each and every week that we show up at the race track.”

Did this work exactly how you wanted to?

“I definitely think it played out pretty good. A lot of wins under our belt in the last three years and being able to step back and win some races and try to get back to the Cup Series and now we are here. It definitely seems like the plan, or path, has worked so far. Now we just have to go execute here in the Cup Series and try to make a home here.”

What are your expectations?

“No expectations. Just go do the best we can each and every week. Hopefully we can get it figured out pretty quick. I feel confident in my 42 group – all the men and women at LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, Toyota, TRD – confidence in myself. Just really looking forward to getting going here. Jimmie (Johnson), Cal (Wells), Maury (Gallagher) – everyone at LEGACY MOTOR CLUB has put a lot of good people in place, I feel like, in the offseason. I’m just excited.”

What are your thoughts on starting with Daytona and Atlanta?

“It’s crazy. It definitely can make or break you. I feel like you can go in, and you can come out of it on the wrong side of it or you can come out on the good side of it. Who knows how everything is going to play out but Daytona, Atlanta – two speedway races to kind of kick off the year. You can put yourself in a hole pretty fast, so you just have to go out there and execute – on and off the race track – and try to do the best we can. We have a lot of great men and women at LEGACY MOTOR CLUB and a lot of great resources for us to be able to utilize, so hopefully we can put everything together and have full potential coming here to Daytona and the rest of the year.”

How close is your new simulation program?

“I hope it is close. Who knows at this point with the change over to a new manufacturer, parts, pieces, bodies, aerodynamics – there are so many changes that we’ve had at LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, kind of rolling into it. Time will tell. We will have to learn the most that we can about our racecars – each and every week – and show up to the race track and hopefully some simulation time will put us in the ball park that we need to be in, in order to make the adjustments we need to go faster each and every weekend.”

What does Jimmie Johnson running nine races mean to the team?

“I think it is good. I think Jimmie (Johnson) being able to be in the mix and him being able to race in the NASCAR Cup Series – with bringing in some great partners and other personnel on the 84 team that I feel like can help in the shop and bring a different mindset and what the 42 team does or the 43 team does. I think it is great for the team. I think it is great for the organization. I think it is great for all of our partners and the sport of NASCAR.

How can you sum up what these last few years have been like to get back to the Cup Series?

“Yeah, a lot has changed for sure. The last three years being in the Truck Series, the Xfinity Series – winning a bunch of races. It has definitely felt really good. It was a revamp, I guess you could say. It was a gamble – some people called it; I think. Some people called me crazy for doing it. The goal was to be back here in a seat on Sundays with an organization that I feel like can contend for wins and championships in the future and being able to put yourself with a team like that is huge. Not only for myself, but Toyota, TRD and all of our partners, who stepped back with me from the Cup Series to kind of move back up. I’m excited about 2024. I’m excited to get rolling here and see what we can do as a team.”

If someone would have told you when you were driving for your dad, that you would one day be driving for a team co-owned by Jimmie Johnson and affiliated with Richard Petty, what would you have said?

“I don’t know. It’s kind of crazy to think about when you put it in that perspective but being able to have Jimmie (Johnson) as a team owner, Maury Gallagher – who I drove for in 2021 in the Xfinity Series as a team owner, and to have Richard (Petty) alongside us as a part of LEGACY MOTOR CLUB is big as well. To have two seven-time champions and Matt Kenseth in the fold, another Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne in the fold – there are a lot of great people and great resources that are in LEGACY MOTOR CLUB now. Now it’s all about execution and utilizing our resources to their fullest potential and doing the best I can as a driver on-and-off the race track. Hopefully, we can assemble some great Toyota Camrys and go out there and show what we can do.”

What is your interaction with Matt Kenseth so far?

“Man, I love Matt (Kenseth). He’s a funny guy. You never know what is going to happen with Matt. There is never a dull moment. I think Matt has been a great addition to LEGACY MOTOR CLUB and filling out his role. I don’t know exactly the title of his role, but he is great to be around and to be able to ask him a lot of questions and be around him. With him being a champion, winning the Daytona 500 twice – he’s won a ton of races. He was a great race car driver and is still a great race car driver. Matt is just fun to be around. There is never a dull moment. He always keeps the mood light and I think that is great for team comradery. Knowing how long the season is, it can get stressful at times. You can kind of get down on yourself and I think having Matt there and Jimmie (Johnson), and a lot of great others, it definitely will not get that way.”

What are you thinking going into the Duels tomorrow?

“I will let you know after we qualify tonight. As a race car driver, you want to go win everything, but at the same time, you don’t want to have to go to a backup car after the Duels. We are bringing the car that we are to the Daytona 500, so I think it’s trying to get the best starting position that we can get, while figuring out how these things draft, how you are able to side draft, pass, get runs – a lot of learning for me tomorrow night, trying to get prepped for the Daytona 500 on Sunday.”

What has it been like working with Toyota and the other teams in the Cup Series?

“So, LEGACY – we are out on our own, per se, but still being able to be to be a part of the Toyota, TRD family – I love it. I wouldn’t want it any other way. They’ve done a lot for me and my career, and I’ve enjoyed every minute that I’ve had with all the execs, and everyone with the Toyota and TRD camp. I’m excited to still be with them for 2024, making it back to the Cup Series after taking a gamble to take a step back with them in ’21. Super pumped, super excited – ready to get going.”

Are you looking over numbers?

“A lot. A lot of data, a lot of analytics, a lot of film. Drafting studies, drafting reports – pretty much anything and everything I can get my hands on. For me, being new to the Next Gen car, I haven’t run a superspeedway race, so to have as much information as possible to know how these things draft, how guys draft, how guys make passes. There is just a lot there that’s big for myself to learn to be successful.”

Are there one-or-two things that you hope will help you be successful?

“There are quite a few to be honest. There are certain guys within the Cup field that are always in contention at the end of the race. How they get there is different from every other one, but they are always there at the end of a race with a shot to win the Daytona 500 or a superspeedway race. Being able to learn what these guys do, and how they get there and things they are doing in the race car – lines that they are taking, runs that they are taking. It’s big.”

Have you always studied that much?

“Always studied.”

Were the social metrics that came out this week a surprise?

“No. I don’t think so. We’ve worked pretty hard on trying to build our social platforms and give some behind the scenes looks and being able to grow our socials on Instagram, YouTube, X, and TikTok as well. Just being able to show a lot of content that a lot of guys don’t do necessarily. I love it. I love being able to create content and creating value for our brand and sponsors. Being able to enjoy every single moment of that is huge.”

Is there a specific type of content that works best?

“Yeah, for sure. There is stuff there that we’ve learned and hope to put that for use.”

Where have you matured as a driver?

“You just grow up in general. You mature in different ways – inside the race car and outside of the race car. This coming in is really like my second full-time Cup year. You have learned a lot in the past. You get humbled very quickly normally when you come into the Cup Series the first time. You have the thought that you’re going to go in and set the world on fire right away and sometimes that’s not the case. It’s definitely humbling coming to the Cup Series after winning a bunch of truck races and Xfinity races and different things of that sort. It’s also very difficult. There’s reason why these guys are here and the 40 spots that they’re in competing at the highest level every single week. We thoroughly enjoy racing each other as hard as we possibly can every single week. It doesn’t matter if you’re racing for first or if you’re racing for 25th, you’re racing as hard as you possibly can. It’s not like that in lower series I don’t feel like. It’s hard – it’s not easy.”

Do you ever think that maybe you came to Cup too early the first time around?

“I don’t know if I would say too early. I feel like we had some really good runs in 2020. We finished top-10 multiple times, had some really good superspeedway runs. We did a lot with what we had at Front Row at the time. I’m super grateful for that opportunity. I don’t regret anything about that. I think that there’s certain things I would change looking back on just about path-wise and different things of that sort if I had the opportunity. But at the same time this opportunity that I was dealt I’ve enjoyed every single aspect of it, learning as much as I possibly can. I think the tough years, the good years, you learn something from every single one of them and you probably learn more from the tough years than you do the good years.”

How much better of a position to succeed do you think you’re in this time around?

“I feel like I’m in a way better spot. I feel like there’s a lot of things heading in the right direction in my opinion. I feel really good about where we’re at as a club – LEGACY MOTOR CLUB. I feel really good about the team members that we have. Toyota, TRD relationship – there’s a lot of great resources that are there for us to be able to utilize.”

Does your mindset come from the success you’ve had over the last few years?

“Yeah. Winning never hurts, right? It sets higher expectations and different things of that sort. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last three years and I hope I continue enjoying the next quite a few. I’m excited to get 2024 kicked off. I’ve been asked, I feel like, so many questions about expectations and mindsets and different things going into 2024. With so much new, we don’t know what to expect, right? It’s kind of the outsider perspective. I feel like you guys know as much as we do right now on performance and things of that sort. Time will tell, but it’s definitely going to be building as a team and as a club here at LEGACY MOTOR CLUB. I hope we hit the ground running, but we know that we have a lot of work to do in the meantime.”

Why was it important to you to get some Xfinity races in this year with JGR?

“I enjoy racing as much as I possibly can. I want to be in a seat three times every weekend if I could. I think there are some race tracks that I feel like I need to get better at and more experience at. I feel like some of those on that list definitely can’t help me for sure, but at the same time it’s the same group for me so I enjoy being able to work with the same group of guys and go win some races.”

Do you feel like you have a similar personality with your teammates?

“I don’t feel like our personalities are much different. We want to go win races. We want to be the best race car drivers that we can be, and I definitely feel like we’re here to put in the work and the time and hopefully we can both go and be successful for Jimmie (Johnson), Maury (Gallagher) and everyone at LEGACY MOTOR CLUB.”

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