LEGACY MOTOR CLUB driver John Hunter Nemechek was made available to the media prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday.


How important was getting off to a fast start for LEGACY MOTOR CLUB?

“Yeah, very grateful we came out in one piece, for sure. I’m excited for this year, getting the year kicked off in Daytona. It’s been a lot of hard work in the offseason at LEGACY MOTOR CLUB with the manufacturer swap to Toyota, lot of new personnel hired, bringing the pit crew in-house, and myself being new to the team. There are so many things that are new, so to be able to go down to Daytona and have a solid run and show some speed in the Duels and race and come out of there with clean car and finish top-10 is pretty good. Not just myself, but for the 43 guys as well. Two cars in the top-10 is a pretty good start for us.”

Can you speak to the mental difference here compared to Daytona or Talladega?

“I don’t think that this place is as treacherous as Daytona or Talladega. Things do happen a little bit faster here than at Daytona or Talladega. I don’t know about the Cup car yet, but on the Xfinity side, runs are a little bit bigger, but you tend to stall out a little bit faster as well. It‘s trying to pick and choose your runs, battles, and it seems like more one-lane dominant here at Atlanta than Daytona or Talladega. You can definitely get multiple lanes going, but I’m going to say it’s pretty much one preferred lane here.”

Why run double duty so often in your return to the Cup Series?

“Why not?! I like to race. I like to be in race cars, and I think getting more laps is more beneficial for myself. Being able to work with the same group of guys at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) that are on the 20 car besides two positions, I think, everyone is still the same. It’s big for me to come back this year and have fun and try to go win races. Not really knowing what the Cup side has in store for the first few as far as speed and other things. For myself, I wanted to put myself in a situation where I can gain confidence on Saturday and go into Sunday and be able to go out there and strive, learn some things from Saturday to try to apply to Sunday. I’m a race car driver. If we could run all three series every weekend, I’d be raising my hand to be into that.”

Are you finding yourself reaching for something different with the cars being so different?

“Not necessarily. I think it’s just remembering what transmissions are in each, where the switches are. Yesterday, I went to kill the ignition switch after finishing my qualifying lap and I reached to where my Cup one is, and it wasn’t in the same spot. So, small things like that. But as far as everything else, it’s similar so far. Daytona and Atlanta will be similar, we’re going to have more differences between the two cars when you get to (Las) Vegas, Phoenix, COTA (Circuit of the Americas), places like that.”

What was the biggest thing you learned from your time going back and racing in the Xfinity and Truck Series?

“I think the biggest thing for me was regaining confidence in myself. I felt I could go win races, but at the same time, I had to go prove that to myself and the rest of the garage and have Toyota and TRD as a manufacturer who believed in me was great validation in that sort. But I think race craft wise, getting smarter, more mature with the positions that you put yourself in. I think every young kid as you grow up running through the ranks, you learn some things the hard way, and some things you learn the easy way, but the hard ones, you will typically remember a little bit more than you were the easy ones, but for myself, it was focusing on completing the tasks at hand, and that was trying to go win races and try to put us in the best possible spots and not getting ahead of ourselves if we got a penalty on pit road or whatever and had to go back and work your way back through. Most of all, just trying to be the veteran in those series, and now the roles have reversed a little bit and I’ve got some learning to do.” 

What are the biggest changes you have seen with LEGACY MOTOR CLUB from last year to this year?

“To be honest, I wasn’t super involved last year, so I don’t really know what was going on, what the biggest significant changes were. I feel like Erik (Jones) could probably answer that a little bit better than myself. For me, it has been a great experience so far being able to have LEGACY M.C. work with Toyota, TRD, from a resource side to a motor side, body side – the new Camry body. There are so many different things that I feel like LEGACY M.C. didn’t necessarily have the keys to access that information, and I think it showed. They still had speed last year at quite a few race tracks and they ran well and different things of that sort, but this year, with the alliance with Toyota, TRD – I think we should be able to be competitive most weeks. I feel that deep down, so I would say the biggest change would be resources and then personnel are another big one. Quite a number of new faces to LEGACY M.C. this year. Cal Wells (CEO, LEGACY MOTOR CLUB), now running the team with Jimmie (Johnson) and the other Hall of Famer faces that are involved as well. It is great to be a part of that organization to have so many great people around you. I’ve always been told you are only as good as the people that you surround yourselves with, and I feel like there is some greats at LEGACY MOTOR CLUB.”

Have you spent any time with Matt Kenseth since coming on board to LEGACY MOTOR CLUB?

“Yeah, I have. Matt (Kenseth) is a really funny guy. I’ve enjoyed Matt. I’ve enjoyed working with Matt and talking with Matt and I’ve spent quite a lot of time with him, getting to know him better each and every time I go and spend time with him. He’s a funny dude. I’m going to leave it at that, but it’s been great to spend time with Matt so far.”

Toyota Racing PR