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Old-school ways guide John Hunter Nemechek's rise
When the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rolls into Martinsville Speedway for this Saturday's Alpha Energy Solutions 250 (2:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), John Hunter Nemechek will arrive as the series’ most recent winner. It’s coming up on a five-week break for Nemechek and his fellow racers, more than a month since he pulled into the winner's circle at Atlanta Motor Speedway for his second career victory. The win sets up the 18-year-old to be in position to participate in this year's inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase. Similar to the Sprint Cup Series' Chase format, eight drivers will compete for the title, attempting to advance through two elimination rounds to reach the championship-determining event at Homestead-Miami Speedway where four will vie for the title. RELATED: Truck Series Chase 101 That Nemechek is already in position to begin considering Chase scenarios is nothing short of remarkable – the son of former Sprint Cup driver Joe Nemechek had only 30 career starts in the series heading into the 2016 season. That his NEMCO Motorsports team has been able to compete against larger, more established organizations in spite of its limited resources is no less amazing. There's no questioning Nemechek ’s talent – he has finished in the top five in roughly one third of his starts and has 17 career top-10 results. His first win came last season at Chicagoland Speedway . The inability to test slows progress, but it's something each team must deal with today. Nemechek said it helps that he is surrounded by so much experience on his team. "I have two of the most veteran (people) here in Dad and (crew chief) Gere Kennon," he said. "They like to do stuff the old way, old school; all their experience and knowledge I've learned from. "Dad has taught me everything he's learned in a 20-year period in a 3-4 year period. That's sped up my learning curve. Then bringing Gere on board, he's taught me a lot about these trucks; he's been in the sport forever." The elder Nemechek won four times during a 20-plus year career at the premier series level. He also won 16 times in what is now the XFINITY Series, and was that division's champion in 1992. Kennon's racing resume includes title-winning runs with two-time series champion Sam Ard in what is now known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series, as well successful stints with Brett Bodine and Ron Hornaday in the that series. Kennon was also a chassis specialist for Roush Racing before moving into a crew chief role in the mid-‘90s for team owner Butch Mock and driver Morgan Shepherd in the premier series ranks. NEMCO Motorsports is a single-team, family-owned organization with roughly a dozen employees and limited funding. The group hired its first engineer this season. They might get out-spent, but they won't be out-worked. They might be out-engineered, but not out-smarted. "To be competitive in this series, it takes a few million dollars," Joe Nemechek said. " … It's hard to round that up on a weekly basis." Funding from Fone Fuel and Berry's Bullets has been a big help, he said, but added that his group is "making hundreds and hundreds of calls every week. "I know what we spend in this deal, and we're probably spending half of what the big teams are. But it's too hard; you just can't keep doing that and have success. At some point all your people get burned out; it's tough." Parker Kligerman has driven to the top of the points standings after teaming with the small Ricky Benton Racing organization. Nemechek sits third, behind Kligerman and Brad Keselowski Racing's Daniel Hemric . RELATED: Hemric finds perfect home " Dual roles lead to success for Kligerman He has five starts at Martinsville, more than at any other track hosting the series, and finished second there in last season's fall event. "It means a lot to be able to come back to the race track where I made my (series) debut," Nemechek said during the track's recent media day event. "I've improved a lot since then. "Also to finish second here (last fall), we've improved on our finishes every time we've been here over the past two and a half years so if we can keep doing that and just improve it by one (position) this year, we'll be good."
John Hunter Nemechek wins wild Atlanta Truck race
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings HAMPTON, Ga. – In a wild race that saw some of the best trucks in the field destroyed before the finish, John Hunter Nemechek held off Cameron Hayley in a two-lap dash to the checkers to win Saturday's Great Clips 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway . But it was a skull session with 2014 Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick the night before that was instrumental in guiding Nemechek to victory in his unsponsored No. 8 Chevrolet. "I've got to give a shout-out," said Nemechek , who was racing at AMS for the first time. "I can't thank Kevin Harvick enough. I went and sat with him for about 30 minutes to an hour last night, trying to learn everything I could." Obviously, the lesson paid off. After extensive cleanup from Christopher Bell 's hard crash into the Turn 4 wall, Nemechek chose the inside line for a restart on Lap 199 of 200. When John Wes Townley spun his tires in the outside lane, Nemechek pulled away to beat Hayley to the stripe by .305 seconds. The victory was Nemechek's second in 32 Truck Series starts and his second on a 1.5-mile intermediate speedway, the first coming last year at Chicagoland Speedway . At 18 years, 8 months and 16 days, Nemechek is the youngest NASCAR national series winner at Atlanta. Before the family-owned team with a shoestring budget could get to Victory Lane, however, attrition took care of the drivers who led the majority of laps leading up to the finish. Two corners after a restart on Lap 112 — following the race's second expiration of the 20-minute caution clock — Bell lost the nose of his No. 4 Toyota, hooked Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Daniel Suarez 's No. 51 Tundra and turned Suarez into race leader Matt Crafton , who had spent 76 circuits at the front of the field. MORE: Caution Clock expires for first time in CWTS " Bell triggers big wreck The trucks of Crafton and Suarez were damaged beyond repair, leaving Bell, who lead 42 of the 130 laps, to grab the top spot after the subsequent restart on Lap 116. Bell pulled away, but on Lap 123, a tire rub resulting from the earlier contact finally popped the right front, and Bell’s Toyota swerved straight into the outside wall in Turn 4. Behind Nemechek and Hayley, Timothy Peters came home third, followed by Daniel Hemric and Grant Enfinger, respectively. Nemechek was circumspect about the circumstances surrounding his conversation with Harvick, but the information he received was clearly valuable. "That's kind of a secret," said Nemechek , who got pit crew help from Jimmie Johnson 's No. 48 Sprint Cup team. "But Kevin's one of the best racers here in Atlanta, so I had to ask him. He's very good at conserving tires, very good at winning races here, so to go and talk to him was very special." Nemechek also got advice from his father and team owner Joe Nemechek , who won a NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Atlanta in 2001. Eighth-place finisher Parker Kligerman took the lead in the series standings by one point over Hemric and three over Nemechek . The afternoon proved expensive for Kyle Busch , who as a driver won the first leg of the Saturday doubleheader in the XFINITY Series race, only to lose three trucks as an owner in the nightcap. In addition to the wrecked trucks of Bell and Suarez, Busch also had to write off the engine of William Byron, which blew on lap 59, with Byron running second.
John Hunter Nemechek to take over full-time reins
18-year-old will take full control of No. 8 Chevrolet in Truck Series One day following his 18th birthday (June 11), John Hunter Nemechek will settle back in the driver's seat of the No. 8 NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet for good. Nemechek , who has been sharing seat time with his father Joe in the No. 8 truck, will grow old enough to be eligible to finish the remainder of the NCWTS schedule beginning in Saturday’s American Ethanol presents the Drivin’ for Linemen 200 brought to you by Ameren at Gateway Motorsports Park (8:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). The NASCAR Next member will spend his first day as a legal adult, not celebrating, but doing what he does every day – improving himself as a race car driver. "I'll be here at the race shop working on my birthday," Nemechek said. "We're non-stop working, trying to get these trucks done, trying to make everything better, so we can go out and contend for wins." If Nemechek races as well at Gateway on Saturday as he did last season, he has a very good chance at visiting Victory Lane. He led 53 laps before a late spin relegated him to 15th. In the process he drew praise on Twitter from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars Tony Stewart , Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Danica Patrick . "How cool is it watching @JohnNemechek leading at Gateway in the @CampingWorld Truck Series race! Go get 'em kid!", Stewart tweeted. Nemechek , who will be competing in his third race this season feels ready to attack the 1.25-mile track. "Last year at Gateway we ran very well," he said. "We made huge improvements from hitting the fence in the first lap of practice to contending for a win. We had an unfortunate event that happened at the end of the race that put us out of contention, but I'm really looking forward to going back this year. It's a very fun place. Both corners are different so you have to get you're truck handling in both. "It's more of a driver’s track. You'll see some guys struggle and some guys will prevail. I'm really looking forward to going back." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
John Hunter Nemechek scores first Truck Series win
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings JOLIET, Ill.—One of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' youngest drivers struck a blow for old-school racing on Saturday morning at Chicagoland Speedway . Stretching his fuel mileage beyond the capabilities of most of his of competitors, John Hunter Nemechek rolled across the finish line 12.014 seconds ahead of Tyler Reddick , who was also saving fuel, to score his first victory in the series in the American Ethanol e15 225. At 18 years, 3 months and 8 days, Nemechek is the fourth youngest winner in the series, and he accomplished the victory with a skeleton crew working on a team owned by his father, Joe Nemechek . Nemechek , a current member of the NASCAR Next class, came to pit road for the last time on Lap 94, topping off under caution one lap before the race returned to green, and managed to squeeze 56 laps out of his last tank of gas. Inheriting the lead on Lap 149 of 150 when Keystone Light Polesitter Kyle Larson ran out of fuel and brought his car to pit road, Nemechek ran out of gas off the final corner and coasted across the stripe. "We got to top off there with one to go, and he (crew chief Gere Kennon) told me to save fuel, save fuel that last run, and that's what we ended up doing," John Hunter Nemechek said. "I ran out coming out of Turn 4. It was great strategy that he had worked up in his mind. "I should know never to doubt him." When Nemechek took the green flag for the last time on Lap 96, Kennon figured the No. 8 Chevrolet was four laps short of finishing the race but didn't give his driver the specific numbers. "I just told him to save," Kennon said. "It got to 10 (laps) to go, and I said, 'Just slow down—just save.' He didn't say anything back, and I was like, 'He may not know how to save.' I told him to slow down even more, and it all worked out.' Exclusive of Joe Nemechek and son, Kennon is one of nine full-time employees supporting the Truck Series operation. "You have to think," Joe Nemechek said. "Gere Kennon and myself—we're thinkers. We're old-school thinkers. You had to figure stuff out back in the past, not with engineering, but with the old-school way of thinking 'How do you make it better?' And we've been able to do that." John Hunter Nemechek is quick to acknowledge the financial and emotional commitment his father has made to his racing effort. "He has everything invested in me, and he believes in me, so, without him, none of this would be possible, and I wouldn't be here today," John Hunter said. With his runner-up finish, Reddick took over second place in the series standings, 10 points behind leader Erik Jones , who finished sixth. Two-time defending series champion Matt Crafton suffered two pit road penalties, ran out of fuel and finished 14th, three laps down, to fall to third in points, 11 behind Jones. Timothy Peters led 41 laps and finished third, followed by Daniel Suarez , who overcame two pit road penalties to run fourth. Johnny Sauter led a race-high 52 laps and came home fifth. The race was originally scheduled to take place Friday night but was postponed due to rain until this morning.
Crew chief on Nemechek : 'He's the real deal'
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The SWM-NEMCO Motorsports crew checked out the light damage on the corners of its No. 8 truck, finding nothing more than cosmetic scrapes in the aftermath at Bristol Motor Speedway, a track known for chewing up fenders and young drivers alike. "That'll buff out" seemed to be the happy consensus. Few were happier about that development Wednesday night than all-smiles John Hunter Nemechek , who turned his second Bristol start into his career-best finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. His third-place result was just behind race winner Ryan Blaney and runner-up Kyle Busch , two drivers with the benefit of far fresher tires down the stretch in the UNOH 200 . "It was one of those deals … don't do anything stupid. Just, you had to let them go," Nemechek said of ceding late-race positions to the front two. "You couldn't race them hard just because of tires. One way or another, he's going to get around you, if he has to move you, dump you, whatever. Decided to play it smart and we know what we need for next time." Nemechek had more to withstand in the late going after the fifth and final caution flag with five laps left extended the race distance by an extra two laps. Though the green-white-checkered attempt was completed on the first try, the frantic competition among the front-runners made Nemechek's feat of finishing where he restarted no easy task. "I spun the tires there on that last restart and I was kind of beating myself up about it going into Turn 1," Nemechek said, "and then they all stacked up and I had a chance to get underneath of them so I took it. We got under them and made the pass." Nemechek's growth as a driver -- three top-10s in just eight starts this year -- has been measured in progress that goes well beyond his 18 years of age. The veteran poise doesn't fall far from the family tree, owing at least a nod to his father, Joe Nemechek . "He's had a good teacher, his dad," said Gere Kennon, crew chief of the SWM-NEMCO No. 8. "… I'm proud to help him because I've raced just like Joe -- his whole life, my whole life. He listens. He's doing good and he's adapted to this very, very well. We help on the Late Model car, too, and he's consistent there. Haven't seen that in a long time. He's the real deal, I think." The younger Nemechek , who took over full-time driving duties for the team after his 18th birthday in June, has nine races ahead of him to close out the 2015 season. He's improved upon his career-best with each of his top-five finishes thus far, but said more improvement in the results column -- or even the win column -- is a reachable goal. "I hope we can have a couple more top-fives, but hopefully we can get a win under our belt," Nemechek said. "I feel like we have the potential to do so. We've just got to have Lady Luck on our side."
Father's lessons priceless to younger Nemechek
John Hunter Nemechek will split the 2015 NCWTS season with his father Joe Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Challenge DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- John Hunter Nemechek might not have years of experience propelling him into NASCAR's national ranks, but he may have something better -- the lessons handed down from his father, entering his 26th year competing in NASCAR's top divisions. But Joe Nemechek , 51, has shown he's not just a grandstand-watching dad with a vested interest in his 17-year-old son's budding career. He's still getting his fingers dirty under the hood and taking his turn in the driver's seat, making his father-son mentorship more hands-on than most. "He's the hardest worker that you'll find around, the hardest-working driver, I should say," the younger Nemechek said. "Luckily, he's passed that off to me and I've learned a great deal from him. If you want to do something, you've got to work hard at it and you can't give up. I think his drive and motivation to win races and make me successful before he retires is something that he really wants me to do." The elder Nemechek's independent spirit hasn't skipped a generation, as John Hunter Nemechek prepares for his third partial season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The father-son duo will split the schedule in 2015, with Joe Nemechek racing on the circuit's larger tracks until John Hunter turns 18 on June 11, at which point his NASCAR-mandated age restriction to tracks 1.25 miles or shorter will be lifted. That time frame would clear John Hunter Nemechek to get his first whirl at an intermediate track at 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway on July 9. "I definitely feel like I'm ready for it," he said. "I feel like getting to those bigger tracks is something I've wanted to do for a while. Last year, sitting on the sidelines when Dad was running the big tracks and I was running the short tracks was kind of frustrating, just because, 'OK, I know I can do this. When am I going to get the chance?' Definitely we're counting down the days." In the meantime, the younger Nemechek has methodically begun to add his name to a stellar group of second-generation speedsters such as Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney, both a few years older and with more experience on their side. John Hunter's 10-race slate on smaller tracks in the Camping World Truck Series last season yielded a career-best fifth place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and four other finishes of sixth and seventh, efforts he hopes are building blocks to more strides in 2015. Those first steps, plus an offseason victory in the prestigious Snowball Derby race for Late Model cars, have helped John Hunter exceed his father's expectations thus far -- sometimes surprisingly so. "You look at a lot of the kids that are sons of dads that raced, they've all grown up around the sport," Joe Nemechek said. "I think the biggest thing that helps them is just listening to all of us dads just talk about what our cars are doing and this and that, and they learn all that. The first time he was in the car, he's like, 'yeah, it's doing this, this and this,' and I looked at him like, 'how do you know that?' They've heard us talk, our body language and all that other stuff, and they just know." John Hunter Nemechek has certainly picked up on the mechanical know-how, helping his father in the shop by running parts, changing tires and becoming handy with a wrench around the family shop. But the influence has transcended the nuts-and-bolts side of things, as the teenager has also learned by example how to carry himself in the garage. For that, John Hunter Nemechek is grateful. "It means everything to me," the younger Nemechek said. "Without him, I wouldn't be here right now. He's put his time and effort and pretty much his life into making my career jump-start. I can't thank him enough for it." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Nemechek's time nixed; Sorenson makes 'Dega field
No. 29 car failed post-qualifying inspection, shuffling lineup RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Joe Nemechek 's qualifying time for the GEICO 500 (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN) was disallowed, NASCAR officials said after Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series . Nemechek's No. 29 car, which had qualified 24th, failed post-qualifying inspection for an improperly sealed oil tank encasement. Reed Sorenson , who was initially thought to have missed the race, was replaced in the field based on his qualifying speed. Sorenson posted a speed of 189.305 mph in the opening round of group qualifying. The driver of the No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet will line up 36th in Sunday's field. Sorenson has one top-10 finish at the 2.66-mile track, which came in 2007. By making the GEICO 500 grid, Sorenson has now been in the starting lineup for every race this year. Nemechek has made 15 Sprint Cup Series starts this year but has failed to make it into the field in both of his tries in the No. 29 Toyota. Nemechek joined Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Allgaier as the drivers who failed to make the 43-car field at Talladega. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Throwback Thursday: Nemechek Sweeps Kansas
In 2004 “Front Row” Joe Nemechek swept the weekend at the Kansas Speedway with two close and thrilling victories.
Close call for A. Dillon as Nemechek spins
Joe Nemechek spins and creates a close call for Trevor Bayne and Austin Dillon.
Chase Elliott, John Hunter Nemechek win Most Popular Driver Awards
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- The two Most Popular Drivers were absolutely suited for NASCAR's big awards. Second-generation NASCAR mega-talents, both Chase Elliott ( XFINITY Series) and John Hunter Nemechek ( Camping World Truck Series) absolutely earned the distinction and the nod in Monday awards presentation. Elliott, who will drive the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevy next year in the Sprint Cup Series -- replacing the retiring Jeff Gordon -- was typically low-key and humble about the whole NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series awards evening. But he was eager to get going in his Cup career after a championship and second place finish (2015) in the XFINITY Series. Earning the Most Popular Driver Award for the recent season must have felt very appropriate for the son of Bill Elliott , who took the Cup Series vote a record 16 times. Dale Earnhardt Jr . has won it the past 12 years. "I think we have definitely a lot of work to do to catch Dale in that sense," a smiling Elliott said. "But I'm very appreciative of the support I've had, especially the past two years and I've noticed it. I don't think people realize how much that means to a driver when they see you wearing their T-shirt. It goes a long way for me. Seeing them do that means a lot." Elliott conceded he and his father, a NASCAR Hall of Famer, haven't discussed this honor's impact even though he is touched to receive it. "We really haven't talked about that," Elliott said. "Fortunately he (his dad) had a big following and some of those people are following me. Can't look past that. Dale has an obviously great following and I'm a Dale fan too." Nemechek , 18, was equally as excited to be recognized on the Camping World Truck Series side. A second-generation racer who won his first major race this season, Nemechek was obviously moved by the honor. "It definitely can't hurt to win the Most Popular Driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, " Nemechek said. "It's definitely an honor for me and my family, but more importantly, hopefully it'll help us gain some reputation on selling some sponsorship for the seasons tocome. Can't thank all of the supporters enough that voted, and all the friends and family as well." Nemechek is the second family member to be honored with the award. His father, Joe Nemecheck -- a former XFINITY Series champion and four-time Cup winner. "Yeah, he won I think in 1992 and '93, so it's awesome to be able to win an award that he's won," Nemechek said. "I beat him to something. "I wish he wouldn't have won most popular so I could've beat him to that. We're very competitive, but to get my first truck win when he didn't was very special as well. He wants one bad." With Elliott moving into the Cup series and Nemechek hoping to continue his rise in the NASCAR ranks in 2016. "It definitely is special to hear how good you're doing with the equipment that you have," Nemechek said. "We utilize our resources to the absolute max that we possibly can. We try and get our trucks as good as we can. There's a lot of late nights and hard work put in with just a few people. Finding the funding to get a few more people and not have to work as late and getting some free time to work on some other projects could even make us better, but it was definitely a good year. Getting our first win and finishing in the top five so many times, all the hard work did pay off. "We're still working on trying to find funding. Nothing is set in stone yet. It's all kind of up in the air right now, so still trying to find those possible partners to sit down, sign a deal with, hopefully for years to come."