Toyota Racing – NCS COTA Quotes – John Hunter Nemechek – 03.22.24

LEGACY MOTOR CLUB driver John Hunter Nemechek was made available to the media prior to practice for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas on Friday.

JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK, No. 42 Romco Equipment Co. Toyota Camry XSE, LEGACY MOTOR CLUB

What’s your outlook and your grade so far?

“I think coming into this year we knew that there was going to be some ups and downs. We felt like there was going to be times where we could shine, times where we may struggle, and things where we kind of need to get better overall as a team. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I’m looking forward to this year. We’ve had some decent speed so far this year. We just have to keep it up and see what we can do.”

Do you feel like this is a resurgence for you?

“I definitely think so. I think coming back to the Cup Series was the goal all along so, how to do that – we are back here finally, with the goals that we set to get back in the Cup Series. I feel good about kind of the vision and where we are trying to go with LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, and the speed we’ve had at some of the race tracks this year. I feel that as we continue to go through the year, we should be way better the second half of the year, theoretically with more data and info and some different things of that sort. It is going to take time – it’s a process, but we are continuing to push hard and try to learn everything we can every single week. For myself, being in the Next Gen car for the first time – really like racing – as well, and getting Ben (Beshore, crew chief) back in the swing of things as well with the Next Gen car, and getting the two of us up to speed communication with the dialogue with the Next Gen car. It races way different than Trucks or Xfinity, so it requires a lot of adapting.”

What are your thoughts on the new Toyota body?

“The new Toyota Camry is awesome. It looks really good. It drives really good. The body definitely stands out. I like it a lot.”

What are your thoughts on more horsepower?

“I’ll play whatever hand I’m dealt. I know there has been a lot of talks about it. Who knows what is going to happen. I can’t say that I’m necessarily for more horsepower or for less horsepower or whatever it may be. I don’t know what the fix is.”

How are you feeling at this point of the year?

“I feel like we have been able to hit superspeedways, Atlanta – mile-and-a-half superspeedway package, a short track, a mile-and-a-half and now a road course. Kind of hitting everything package wise that we have for this year. We’ve found quite a few areas that we need to work on and I need to work on as a driver so far, but overall, we’ve shown decent speed some weeks, some weeks we haven’t, some weeks we’ve definitely needed to get better, but honestly, it is a progression. Being able to be consistently competitive this year is big. We know it is not going to go smooth every single week. There may be ups, there may be downs, but what do you learn from those situations and how do you make your cars drive better every single week when you come back to the race track.”

What is the biggest thing that you’ve had to learn this year?

“The car. It is way different than anything I’ve ever been in. It is still a race car, but adjustment wise, how it drives, dirty air – there is a lot of differences there. Just trying to learn every aspect I can of this car and figuring out what I need for practice and qualifying, and the race, and trying to make the best adjustments possible.”

What kind of race do you think we are going to see at Richmond after what we saw in Phoenix?

“I don’t know. At Phoenix, the fastest car won it by running the bottom of the race track. I’m not sure about Richmond. With the simple diffuser, you are able to drive it more sideways. I don’t have experience with the other diffuser on short tracks, so I can’t tell much difference, but just from what I’ve heard, you drive it more sideways, but I feel like the package, I feel like it raced somewhat better – I don’t know – the biggest experience things for me is just not knowing the past and the trends and trying to figure out this new package. With them bringing this new package in, I feel like it puts us all on a little bit of a level playing field with myself not having a bunch of laps with the other package. Hopefully, Richmond will be a really good race. If we have tire fall off like we had at Bristol, it will be really good.”

Did you feel like you could pass when you needed to in Phoenix?

“Yes and no. At times for sure. You could definitely push and try to get by a guy. We were able to run multiple lines at Phoenix – which was nice to be able to move around. I definitely feel like that was big, but I definitely feel like handling played a huge factor in that race as well. We saw a few good cars that were really good on the long run, and we saw some that were good on the short run and some that were good in the middle of a run, but it didn’t seem like it was as bad in dirty air watching previous races. I’m not sure what others think, I can’t really give you my two cents on that.”

Can you describe the challenge of turns 6 through 9?

“Well, if you mess one of them up then you mess all of them up. It is definitely a rhythm section in my opinion. (turn) Six is fun, I would say. Kind of long sweeper carousel, you can run on the paint side, you can run on the asphalt side. (turn) Seven – is definitely tight. (turn) Eight is where the guys are using the runoff for grip. You try to straight line that section, and then (turn) nine is super tight back to the left. It is definitely faster than you think it would be, but it is slower than you think it would be as well from the elevation and what not. It is a fun little section. It’s hard for sure. It’s challenging to hit your marks.”

Do you like how NASCAR’s start of the season schedule has jumped around to so many different track types?

“I like it. I think it gives us a chance if you are off your game a little bit to work on your stuff. It gives you more time between the mile-and-a-half races or the short track races. I kind of like that it is spread out. I also like for myself and having not a lot of experience in the Next Gen car being able to run all of the different packages at five different race tracks to get kind of one race under our belt so you kind of know what to expect when you go back to one of those places. I definitely like it like that. I don’t think we should run all superspeedways and then all short tracks and all road courses together. I think it should definitely be spread out.

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