Nemechek Drives Through Field, Earns Runner-up Finish in Vegas

John Hunter Nemechek battled through the field after being unable to qualify to earn a runner-up finish to lead Toyota on Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Nemechek, who suffered mechanical issues in qualifying, started 38th but drove all the way to sixth by the end of stage one and finished the race in second to hold 47 points over the Playoff cutline.


His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Sammy Smith, suffered many pit road issues throughout the day and finished 17th. Smith is seventh in the standings, 35 points below the cutline heading into next weekend’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.


Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Race 30 of 33 – 302 miles, 201 laps




1st, Riley Herbst*


3rd, Cole Custer*

4th, Chandler Smith*

5th, Sam Mayer*






*non-Toyota driver



JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK, No. 20 Pye Barker Fire & Safety Toyota GR Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 2nd

Do you feel like you got everything out of the day?

“Yeah, the 98 (Riley Herbst) had the best car. Congrats to Riley. I know he’s been trying to win one of these for a long time. Great group over there. Solid day for our No. 20 Pye-Barker Toyota GR Supra. Proud of all of my guys. We didn’t get to qualify, started last, got up to the front and battled in the top-five. I think we got to sixth for the first stage. Called my shot, got stage points. Kind of just missed the balance there a little bit compared to the 98. The car was as fast as Xfinity 10G. I think we are 40 something above the cutline, so solid points day, we just have to keep on with it. I’m looking forward to Homestead next week.”


Are you pleased with the result today?

“Yeah. I feel like we missed our balance a little bit there towards the end of the race, but we definitely worked on it and got it better throughout the race. It was a step in the right direction. Our Pye-Barker Toyota GR Supra was as fast as Xfinity 10G today. I’m proud to be behind the wheel of this thing. I’m glad we ended up finishing second. If we couldn’t win, finishing second was a really good day, especially from how things started this weekend. Overall, solid day, plus 47 to the cutline – good points day. We will take it and move on to Homestead and try and win there.”


SAMMY SMITH, No. 18 Pilot Flying J Toyota GR Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 17th

Can you recap your day and all that you had to overcome today?

“Worthless. We didn’t do what we need to. We brought a fast car. We were good on that side, but you have to execute on the track and mistake after mistake on pit road. It just can’t happen.”


How do you approach the next race?

“We’ve got to work on some stuff. It’s just frustrating. Every stop had an issue, so I don’t know.”


KAZ GRALA, No. 26 Ruedebusch Toyota GR Supra, Sam Hunt Racing

Finishing Position: 35th

Did you have any indication that you were losing your engine?

“No, none at all. Just was going down the frontstretch, heading into turn one – was actually making a pass – and it just let go as soon as let off the throttle going into the corner, and I was along for the ride in my own oil. It looks like there were several others in the same boat behind me.”


How frustrating of a day was today with so many early cautions?

“It was that, and honestly, we just missed it big time today. We weren’t any good in the first stage there. I actually was encouraged by what I felt on the first lap there in the second stage. I felt like we were a lot better than we had been, but didn’t get a whole lot of a chance to see where that was going to take us unfortunately.”