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.”
Pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr. posted the fastest lap in Saturday’s final Sprint Cup practice at Pocono Raceway with a lap of 176.377 mph.
He was followed by Brad Keselowski (176.136 mph), Kevin Harvick (176.012), June Pocono winner Kurt Busch (175.922) and Chase Elliott (175.864).
Jeff Gordon, driving in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr., was 24th on the speed chart with a lap of 174.284 mph.
Truex also posted the best average over 10 consecutive laps.
It’s been just over a month since the Xfinity Series competed at Iowa Speedway, the short track in Newton, Iowa. But the series returns this weekend for the U.S. Cellular 250.
Here is all the information you need to know about today’s race, which can be seen on NBCSN.
(All times are Eastern)
START: The command to start engines will be given at 8:07 p.m. by U.S. Cellular customers Mark Hixson, Mark Oestreish, Mike Smith and Kevin Woodyard. The green flag is scheduled for 8:14 p.m..
DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 250 laps (218.75 miles) around the short track.
PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Xfinity garage opens at 11:30 a.m. The driver/crew chief meeting is at 6:15 p.m. Driver introductions are at 7:30 p.m.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: Sydney Dam of Waterloo, Iowa will perform the anthem at 8:01 p.m.
TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race with its coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m with Countdown to Green. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 7:30 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have MRN’s broadcast.
FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts a temperature of 74 degrees at race time with a 6 percent chance of precipitation.
LAST TIME: Sam Hornish Jr. won in the Xfinity Series’ last visit to the short track on June 19 in his first NASCAR start of the year.
LAST TIME: Qualifying at 4:15 p.m.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series qualifying was canceled Saturday morning because of a wet track. The lineup for today’s race (1:01 p.m. ET green flag) was set by the rule book. William Byron will start on the pole.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted an update on his condition Saturday morning, shortly before Sprint Cup cars were scheduled to practice again without him.
This is the third weekend that Earnhardt has missed as he recovers from concussion-like symptoms. Jeff Gordon is driving the No. 88 this weekend at Pocono for Earnhardt, who has had issues with balance and nausea. Earnhardt has preached patience in his recovery.
Saturday, Earnhardt tweeted: “Update: No change lately. Symptoms have plateaued over the last week. Balance/Gaze Stabilization are only issues. Docs preaching patience.”
Earnhardt said last week he would provide an update on his condition Monday on the Dale Jr. Download podcast. Hendrick Motorsports has not announced who will drive the No. 88 next weekend at Watkins Glen.
Gordon was asked about his role with the No. 88 team and if he expected to be in the car at Watkins Glen.
“I’m not speculating anything at this time,” Gordon said. “I wouldn’t be here in Pocono if I wasn’t committed to be there for Hendrick Motorsports and this team in any way that they need me. I think there is a balance between trying to make this transition. irst of all you want Dale to have the comfort of knowing that somebody is there for him. He doesn’t have to worry about that aspect of it through this process. Just get well at the pace that is the right pace to do it. So, nobody is putting any pressure or time frame on that. He may be putting that on himself more than anybody else.
“Then there is the side of who is the best person to be in the car to get the most points. And then there is the sponsorship side of it as well. So far from what Rick (Hendrick) is telling me that seems to be me. That is why I was at Indy and that is why I’m here.”