John Hunter Nemechek has never met “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, but Nemechek will honor the Hall of Fame wrestler with a neon-colored helmet that features a portrait of Flair on the back. The helmet, designed by Off Axis Paint, will debut this month at Daytona International Speedway.
The 18-year-old NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver learned about Flair from his father, Joe Nemechek, who was a big fan of the wrestler.
“I always heard dad talk about Ric Flair as one of his idols,” John Hunter Nemechek told NASCAR Talk. “A bunch of the guys in the shop … pretty much everyone is a big Ric Flair fan. We’re hoping to get him out to a race at one point.”
When his dad saw the helmet, what was his reaction?
“He just smiled and laughed,” Nemechek said.
Nemechek admits that Flair, a 16-time world heavyweight champion, can provide inspiration for this upcoming season, noting Flair’s success.
“Hopefully, we can be the champs,” said Nemechek, who scored his first Truck win last year at Chicagoland Speedway and finished 12th in the points despite missing five races because he was not old enough to compete on the larger tracks at the time.
To be champion, Nemechek will have to follow one of Flair’s famous sayings: “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.”
In the final 35-minute Trofeo Pirelli race of the Ferrari Finali Mondiali, NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace finished 10th overall for his best result of the four-day event.
Driving for Risi Competizione/Ferrari of Houston, Wallace’s top 10 bettered his results of 15th and 32nd in the second and third days of the event, which was held at Daytona International Speedway for the first time.
In Sunday’s race, Wallace finished third in the Professional, North America class.
“I told myself that after the struggles we’d had, that if I could walk out with a solid top 10 in the finals I’d be happy,” Wallace said in a reale from the track. “The team did great and I learned a ton. We’ve been here five days, run 1,000 laps and we don’t have a dent on the car.
“This was totally out of the box for me. It was a great opportunity from Ferrari, Risi and Daytona. We had a nice solid run and we had a lot of NASCAR fans here, too.”
German driver Thomas Loefflad won the Coppa Shell event. Venezuelan Carlos Kauffmann won the Trofeo Pirelli race Wallace took part in.
During the Ferrari Finali Mondiali at Daytona International Speedway, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne told The Daytona-Beach News Journal he thinks “it is possible we can come back to NASCAR.”
Chrysler owns the Dodge brand, which left NASCAR’s top three series following the 2012 season after having returned to the sport in 2001. The departure came right after Brad Keselowski and Team Penske won Dodge a Cup championship.
Currently, only Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota are in NASCAR’s top circuits, though some small Xfinity Series teams still use old Dodge bodies and the NASCAR Pinty’s Series is still supported by Dodge.
Marchionne told the News Journal he met with NASCAR vice-chairman Jim France and International Speedway Inc. CEO Lesa France Kennedy Saturday night and discussed the possibility of Dodge returning to the NASCAR fold.
“We are in a different place now,” Marchionne said, also noting it was his decision to leave the sport after the financial crisis that began in 2008. “I think it is possible we can come back to NASCAR. I think we need to find the right way to come back in, but I agreed with both Jim and Lesa we would come back to the issue.”
Dodge won 57 races in the Cup series from 2001-2012.
Click here for the Daytona Beach News Journal’s full report.
The 49th annual Snowball Derby, being held at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida, is in a rain delay after being scheduled to start at 2 p.m. ET.
The race will feature NASCAR drives William Byron, John Hunter Nemechek, Grant Enfinger, Daniel Hemric, Harrison Burton, Christopher Bell and others.
The rain at the track began in at morning and has stopped for now.
When the race is finally run, it can be watched with a $30 purchase at speed51.com.
NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace had a disappointing outing in the third day of the Ferrari Finali Mondiali a day after earning a podium finish in his class.
Wallace, driving for Risi Competizione/Ferrari of Houston in the event at Daytona International Speedway, finished 32nd in the second Trofeo Pirelli race after a receiving a pass through penalty for driving through the “Bus Stop” on the back stretch. Wallace was forced to do so after he lost brake pressure while exiting the Turn 2 of the main portion of the track.
Wallace was running 14th at the time of the penalty but wound up posting the fastest speed on Saturday at 192.563 mph.
“I actually think we had a better run today,” Wallace said. “Now we’ll go back, work on these brakes, tune it up and get ready for the last race tomorrow – the World Final.
“Our lap times were great, lot better than Friday. We’ve got a little bit of work to do on the car but I think my driving’s improved a ton [this weekend.]”
Wallace finished 15th in his Friday race to earn a podium finish in his class.
A live stream of the World Final can be watched here.