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."
Practice 2 recap " Practice 2 results Jennifer Jo Cobb led the final Camping World Truck Series practice at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, putting up a high speed of 182.965 mph on Lap 9 out of 11. This is Cobb's fifth start at the famous 2.5-mile superspeedway and she is without a pole in her Truck Series career. Coming up short to Cobb was Austin Hill at 182.954 mph. Terry Jones, (182.954 mph), Bobby Gerhart (182.926 mph) and past Talladega winner Johnny Sauter (182.762 mph) round out the top-five fastest on the leaderboard. Timothy Peters is the defending race winner at the track and was 11th-fastest in the closing practice. The Red Horse Racing driver was third-fastest in the first session. Eighteen-year-old John Hunter Nemechek led the series' opening session on Friday, but did not come out for the second session. There was one caution brought out in the final minutes of practice for fluid on the track. The Camping World Truck Series returns to the track tomorrow for Keystone Light Pole Qualifying at 10:30 a.m. ET (FS1). The fred's 250 presented by Coca-Cola begins Saturday at 1 p.m. ET (FOX). Practice 1 recap " Practice 1 results John Hunter Nemechek led the opening Camping World Truck Series practice at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, notching a top speed of 191.608 mph on his 15th lap out of 21 total. This is the 18-year-old driver's first start at the Alabama track. John Wes Townley came up short to Nemechek , and was second-fastest at 191.604 mph. Defending race winner Timothy Peters was third-fastest at 191.528 mph. Truck Series points leader Erik Jones (190.189 mph) and Ben Kennedy (188.947 mph) round out the top-five fastest on the leaderboard. One caution came out during the 55-minute practice for debris on the track. Aside from Peters, the only other past Talladega winner in the field is Johnny Sauter who was seventh-fastest (188.907 mph) in the opening session. The Camping World Truck Series returns to the track today at 3 p.m. ET for final practice before Saturday's Keystone Light Pole Qualifying at 10:30 a.m. ET (FOX Sports 1). The series' fred's 250 presented by Coca-Cola begins Saturday at 1 p.m. ET (FOX).
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.
RELATED: Gase takes up cause in honor of mother HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Joey Gase was as surprised as he was touched in winning the inaugural Comcast Community Champion Award at Monday night's NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series awards banquet. Gase, 22, was genuinely touched by the big honor -- a tribute to his mother Mary Jo, who died from a brain aneurysm when Gase was only 18 years old. Four people representing NASCAR's three series were among the group nominated for the award -- in addition to Gase it also included Martin Truex Jr . and his girlfriend Sherry Pollex ( Sprint Cup ) and Martha Nemechek (grandmother of Truck series driver John Hunter Nemechek ). Truex and Pollex were nominated for the award for their work with cancer patients and Nemechek was honored for her time helping grieving families -- a nod to the loss of her youngest son John , 27, who died from injuries suffered in a Truck Series race at Homestead, Florida in 1997. Gase was absolutely surprised when his name was announced, but also extremely humbled and grateful to be the selection. "It's amazing," a thankful Gase said. "It's the first time Comcast has done this and not only to honor my mom, but to let people know we're doing everything we can. "I was surprised. I didn't know what to expect for sure." Gase was obviously extremely touched by the award, speaking about what the $60,000 donation from Comcast will mean as he continues his work to increase awareness about organ donation. "It is very sad, but for me and my family. … the one thing that was able to come from it was my mom was able to help 66 people and she would be proud to know that. A lot of people think only of the recipients but it's also the other family members knowing that if it wasn't for my mom their loved one wouldn't be helped." A $30,000 donation was also made to the charitable organizations of Truex and Nemechek . The XFINITY and Truck series banquet will be televised Sunday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- One night after Kyle Busch took a bow as a first-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, he helped to toast the youngster who brought him his first driver's title as a team owner. With milk. On a night for honoring new champions, Erik Jones and Chris Buescher took center stage at the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series Awards at the Diplomat Resort and Spa. For Buescher, it marked the 23-year-old's first national series championship in just his second full year in the series. For Jones, the title march coincided with a Sunoco Rookie of the Year campaign. Busch was missing from Monday night's awards, occupied with the media duties and obligations that came with winning his first premier series title at Homestead-Miami Speedway . His wife, Samantha, attended on behalf of Kyle Busch Motorsports, which claimed the team owners' title for the third straight year. With Busch making the rounds with the Sprint Cup trophy, Ed Laukes, Toyota's vice president of marketing communications and motorsports, provided an assist in toasting Jones' stellar season. But the raised glass for the 19-year-old was full of milk, a half-joking homage to Dale Earnhardt's toast of first-time champion Jeff Gordon in 1995. "I wish Kyle would've been there to see his creation come to life, I guess you'd say," said Jones, who won three races and five pole positions in his first full season. "I think he had a good excuse to miss it, but that was funny. That's definitely a Kyle thing he would do, especially to me." Buescher's coronation on the XFINITY tour came after a two-win season with hallmark consistency -- 20 top-10s in 33 races. Monday night, he took his place with his Roush Fenway Racing team at the head table, saying that he showed a slight case of nerves in the Great Hall's gala setting. Jitters notwithstanding, the experience capped a stellar 48-hour period full of well-wishes from his peers. "The coolest thing is just having so many different people come up and say congratulations and we've seen what you've done to work for this and it's awesome to see you here," Buescher said. "Stuff like that means that all those years working up to this point were well worth it. It's been countless hours, many all-nighters to make sure we could get to the next ARCA race at night. We've done so many things to try and get to this point, and to finally be here, it's special. It's very humbling." Chase Elliott , the driver who preceded Buescher as series champion, took Most Popular Driver honors with him as he transitions to the Sprint Cup Series next year, replacing Jeff Gordon in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet. NASCAR Next driver John Hunter Nemechek was voted Most Popular Driver in the Camping World Truck Series. Daniel Suarez , another product of the NASCAR Next program, was named Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the XFINITY Series.
MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- For Cole Custer , it was a speeding penalty on pit road. For John Hunter Nemechek , it was a mistake on a restart. Both drivers appeared to have legitimate shots at victory Saturday at Martinsville Speedway , site of the Kroger 200 Camping World Truck Series race. But inexperience got in the way. Custer, only 17, but already a two-time winner in the series, qualified on the pole and led 96 laps on the .526-mile track. But a speeding penalty while leaving pit road just past the halfway point of the race left him playing catch-up in a race that featured 12 cautions. When the dust had finally settled, the JR Motorsports driver had finished fourth. "We had probably the best truck (out) there, maybe not on some (runs), but we probably just gave one away there," Custer said. "Just my lack of experience. I thought I could go hard off pit road and not get a penalty in the last section. "Just went a little too fast. Great truck, it just feels like we gave another one away today." Custer and his team had the No. 1 pit box, located closest to the pit road exit. He was running second, trailing Nemechek , when the day's sixth caution came out for a crash involving JJ Haley. Second off pit road before word of the penalty came down from the tower, the infraction dropped Custer to the tail end of the lead-lap trucks, where he restarted 25th. A fast truck, and numerous cautions, enabled him to work his way back into the top five. Nemechek's miscue came just a bit later in the series' 20th race of the season. Out front for a Lap 138 restart, his No. 8 Chevrolet caught the inside curb, slowing him just enough for defending series champion Matt Crafton to bolt to the front. "We had a great truck all day," said Nemechek , who led twice for 32 laps and finished second, less than a half-second behind race winner Crafton. "I just couldn't capitalize on it. I made a mistake and I'll learn from it. "We'll move on from here, hopefully (continue) the momentum. My guys give me great trucks every time we come to the race track." There was brief contact between the two on the restart in question, but a no-harm, no-foul situation, according to Crafton. "I don't know if he hit the curb or he got loose under me," Crafton said. "I just know I had a really good restart there … don't know if he just overdrove the corner a little bit getting into (Turn) 3." Nemechek , 18, earned his first victory earlier this year at Chicagland Speedway while racing for his family-owned Nemco Motorsports. Five of Saturdays restarts came after Nemechek lost the lead, but each time he was unable to capitalize on the opportunity. "We struggled a little bit on the outside, I was better on the bottom (on restarts)," he said. "But I hit the curb on that restart after we pitted and it killed me. It's my own fault."
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 and Cameron Hayley were each pleased with their top-three efforts Saturday at Martinsville Speedway . With each other? Not so much. As far as post-race confrontations go in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the face-to-face meeting between the NASCAR Next products on pit road was fairly mild, short though not so sweet. Nemechek came away with a runner-up finish behind winner Matt Crafton , and Hayley enjoyed a career-best third place in the Kroger 200 , but there were indications that their late-race contact could have implications later in the season. "The racing got really rough out there. John Hunter's got it coming to him here later in Phoenix," Hayley said after emerging from his ThorSport Racing No. 13 Toyota. "There's no reason why he should just drive into someone that hard, but I guess it's short-track racing and just great run for us." Nemechek bulled past Hayley on a restart with two laps to go, nudging to the inside groove in Turn 3 just before the white flag unfurled. Nemechek said he received Hayley's warning loud and clear in their brief post-race talk, but indicated that watching a replay would help him understand the contact. "It's part of racing. It's good, hard racing and good, hard battling," said Nemechek , who added that he was being pushed from behind during the two-lap dash to the end. "Earlier in the race, he moved me, so he had one coming back to him." Aside from the abbreviated dust-up, there were plenty of shared positives. Hayley started second alongside pole-sitter Cole Custer , and Nemechek started third. Both spent the duration of the day in the top five, within sight of early leader Custer and late-race dominator Crafton. For Nemechek , it marked his fourth top-five finish in his last five races, including his breakthrough win in Chicagoland. For Hayley, his third straight top-10 in his rookie campaign kept him sixth in the series standings. "It just seemed like the one truck in front of us was just a little bit faster when it counted, and we'd be faster over those long runs, and we just could never quite get there, but I couldn't be happier to run top-three all weekend," Hayley said. "It's something I've only dreamed about, so I'm really proud of this team." Said Nemechek : "Everyone was hitting each other, moving each other. It's great to come home second, and I can't thank all my guys enough."
Eleventh-place finish provides learning experience for driver SPARTA, Ky. -- John Hunter Nemechek had every right to enter Thursday's UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway with wide eyes and sweaty palms. Not only was he making his first start at a 1.5-mile track -- his 18th birthday on June 11 allowing him to run on any track length -- he was also hopping into the No. 8 NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet with no practice time due to inclement weather. Tack on the potential hazard of seeping rainwater on the track (fondly known as weepers) and the possibility of a bumpy ride due to the rough surface of Kentucky, and it's enough to make the most experienced driver's heart rate quicken. And while he appeared weary post-race, leaning against his No. 8 truck while sitting on the asphalt surface, Nemechek had a simple answer regarding if he had felt nervous with no practice time before the drop of the green: "Not at all." The young driver's performance seemed to reflect his attitude. After rolling off the grid 13th, Nemechek quickly dipped into the top bracket, running with drivers like Ryan Blaney for the top spot and even leading a lap around the asphalt oval. He finished the 225-mile event 11th. "It felt good," Nemechek said. "It showed what we can do as a team and how fast our truck really is." A fast truck in tow, the No. 8 team also received assistance on pit road from a group of men who know how to win at the highest level: the No. 48 crew of Jimmie Johnson . The crew pitted Nemechek's No. 8 in Thursday's Truck race and will pit Johnson's Sprint Cup entry on Saturday as part of their regular duties. With a strong showing in his first test on a 1.5-mile track -- NASCAR's bread-and-butter -- Nemechek showed the industry he could contend in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Nonetheless, the No. 8 wheelman looks ahead to the remainder of the season, citing areas of improvement in the upcoming races for his team. "It was fun, we had a really good truck. Just took four tires there at the end and we should have taken two or none," Nemechek said, referring to the late-race four-tire call that caused him to drop several positions on pit road. "We hauled the mail on no tires there in the middle of the race, so definitely some learning to do, but I feel like I learned a lot tonight, feel like I adapted pretty quick and can't thank my guys enough for a great truck." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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."