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."
John Hunter Nemechek finishes in third place at Bristol, making it his career-best finish.
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
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
John Hunter Nemechek hits Matt Crafton on the driver-side door, while racing hard on a late-race restart in Turn 2, sending Crafton into the outside wall.
John Hunter Nemechek makes contact with Caleb Holman on Lap 157 at Iowa Speedway.
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
John Hunter Nemechek falls victim to transmission trouble late in the running of the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway.
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated standings BRISTOL, Tenn -- A spin with four laps to go in Wednesday night's UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway proved to be the saving grace for Brad Keselowski Racing's Ryan Blaney , who grabbed the lead on a green-white-checkered restart to win his first race of the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season. Blaney recovered from an early race penalty for jumping a restart to find himself closing on leader Matt Crafton with five laps remaining. When Ty Dillon spun on Lap 196, it triggered the final caution of the night and the opportunity for Blaney to steal Crafton's thunder. On the final restart, Crafton's truck sputtered, failing to come up to speed, allowing Blaney to take off and seal his fourth career NCWTS victory. "It feels really good," Blaney said. "I'm proud of everyone on this No. 29 team. I've had a chance to drive this truck four times this year and we've come really, really close every single time and to finally get it to Victory Lane, my last start of the year for this truck, it really means a lot to get Chad (Kendrick, crew chief) and Brad (Keselowski, team owner) back to Victory Lane. "To do that in that fashion coming from a lap down and being able to drive through the field like that says a lot about our race team and a lot about what as an organization we can do." Keystone Light Pole Award winner Kyle Busch 's slow start allowed outside pole-sitter Blaney to steal the lead early by the exit of Turn 1, controlling the field through the first caution on Lap 31 for a spin in Turn 2. On the restart, Blaney roared away from the field, but a few laps later, NASCAR black-flagged him on Lap 37 for jumping the restart, forcing a pass-through penalty, giving the lead to Cole Custer . Busch, who restarted fifth, methodically worked his way forward and attempted to take the lead away from the young NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner, but Custer kept Busch at bay through the race's second caution on Lap 79 for debris in Turn 1. Busch and Johnny Sauter would trade the lead following the caution, before Custer returned to the top spot on lap 90. A more than 1.5-second lead for Custer would be erased when Ray Black Jr . and Caleb Holman crashed in Turn 4 on lap 112. With darkening skies overhead and the threat of rain approaching the World's Fastest Half-Mile, a majority of the teams elected to stay out. Despite his best efforts, Crafton tried to snatch the lead away from the JR Motorsports driver, but to no avail. Custer slowly saw Crafton become a diminishing factor in his rear-view mirror until he hit heavy lap traffic with 50 laps remaining. That's when Spencer Gallagher spun in Turns 3 and 4, and Custer found himself trapped in the high-line and collided with Gallagher. Heavy front-end damage sent the No. 00 Chevrolet to pit road for repairs, eliminating the NASCAR Next driver from competition. As the accident happened, Crafton slipped by on the inside and took the lead -- which he held until the green-white-checkered restart that lost him the race. While under yellow for the fourth time of the night, heavy rain began to fall, causing a red flag for 45 minutes, 50 seconds while the track was dried. Next up for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is the Aug. 30 race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the third-annual Chevrolet Silverado 250 . Blaney is the defending champion. MORE: Nemechek gets career-best finish
John Hunter Nemechek has a left-rear tire go down and spins into the wall while battling for third with German Quiroga.