NASCAR’s Next generation: John Hunter Nemechek

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John Hunter Nemechek will spend part of his 18th birthday today on a plane to Madison, Ill., headed to the next chapter in his career.

It’s at Gateway Motorsports Park that the son of Joe Nemechek will make his 15th career Camping World Truck Series start, but his first as a full-time driver, able to race on 1.5-mile tracks and larger. NASCAR rules prohibit drivers younger than 18 from running on the circuit’s bigger tracks. This also will be the NEMCO Motorsports driver’s second truck race since being named to the NASCAR Next class.

When NASCAR Talk spoke with the 2014 Snowball Derby winner, he was preparing to spot for his father in Joe Nemechek’s last race in the No. 8 Chevrolet before passing it on to his son this weekend.

This Q&A has been edited and condensed.

NT: How did you find out you were a part of the NASCAR Next class?

John Hunter Nemechek: I got a phone call about two weeks before the announcement saying ‘Hey, you’ve been selected to be a part of the NASCAR Next group.’ I was excited because I smiled for awhile. It’s a great opportunity for us to be a part of that group.

NT: As an 18-year-old what does it mean to be considered an important part of NASCAR’s future?

Nemechek: It’s a great asset to be able to be part of that group, show what we’ve done in our past and to show what we’re going to go in our future … just to learn as much as we can, whether it’s media obligations or whatever it may be through NASCAR, will help promote ourselves and the series we’re running in.

NT: Are you close friends with any of the other members?

Nemechek: I pretty much grew up with Jesse Little and Cole Custer. There’s a few of us. It’s not an everyday thing, but every once in a while we’ll send each other a text saying ‘Hey, let’s go to the lake,’ or ‘Let’s go out and race some go-karts,’ or something like that.

NT: What’s your earliest memory of racing?

Nemechek: It would have to be going to Victory Lane with Dad, his first Cup win in ’99 I think it was. Going to New Hampshire. It was an awesome win. I remember going there and being in everyone’s arms, getting waved up above the trophy. Then you go back and look at all these pictures and that was an exciting day, to get your first win there and now we go back and race there, so it was pretty cool.

NT: Right now you’re a teammate with your dad. What’s that relationship like?

Nemechek: We’re very competitive with each other, but at the same time we try to help each other as much as we can. He’s been a big help in my career, getting me going. He’s taught me everything I know and he’s taught me everything he’s learned in a 20-year period to me in a three-year period. It definitely helps me advance on that curve with the younger generation coming up.

NT: One of your hobbies is fishing. What’s your best fishing story?

Nemechek: Probably when I was little, we were out fishing on the dock. I couldn’t have been more than 4 years old, something like that. I was just a small, little kid. We hooked this big, largemouth bass. I remember not being able to hold onto the fishing pole, somebody helped hold it, just kind of stuff like that.

NT: What’s the most scared you’ve ever been in a race car?

Nemechek: Probably had to be the first time I flipped a race car … it was one of those deals where you hold on and hope nothing happens. You’re kind of just along for the ride. (It was in an) Allison Legacy car, which is a ¾-scale stock car. I ended up winning the championship that year (2012). We were testing one day (at Rockingham Speedway) and ended up hitting the fence and it wasn’t good after that.

NT: Ryan Newman said he raced at Kansas Speedway so he could help you out with your career. What did you learn from him?

Nemechek: I learned a lot from him. Just kind of what they do in the Cup series, whether it be a veteran move on pit road, stuff all around, see where our trucks were at downforce wise or if he thinks we need to change anything. He was definitely a great help and hopefully we can get him in another race later this year, possibly. To have him, to learn from him all of what he’s done in his past, to look at what we did in our truck is pretty great.

NT: If you were in the Sprint Cup race at Bristol, what would you choose as your introduction song?

Nemechek: That’s a tough one. I don’t know if I’d pick my own song, I’d probably do a deal where I’d pick another driver’s song and I’d let them pick mine just to see what it was.

NT: What’s your favorite song?

Nemechek: It’s probably most of the songs by either Eric Church or Thomas Rhett.

NT: What non-social media app do you use the most?

Nemechek: I’d have to say Meet Ball. You’ll have to check it out. It’s a real time, almost like a navigation app, where you can use it for tailgating, for any festivities that you’re at. Say that I’m standing over there at that garage sign. I can make a Meet Ball and it’ll use the compass in your phone to show how far I am away, how many feet and which way you need to walk. It was originally intended for tailgating.

NT: What’s on your bucket list that’s not racing related?

Nemechek: I’d like to go skydiving one day. That’d be fun. It’s something I’ve wanted to do as a kid. I know when we go on family reunions we end up at an indoor skydiving places and we go flying around in there and I’ve never gotten the chance to go up in a plane, I think that would be fun.

Daniel Hemric fastest in first Coca-Cola 600 practice

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CONCORD, N.C. — Daniel Hemric was fastest in the first Cup Series practice session for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.

Hemric posted a top speed of 182.791 mph around Charlotte Motor Speedway.

He was followed by Chase Elliott (182.340 mph), William Byron (182.211), Kyle Busch (182.168) and Jimmie Johnson (182.008).

Alex Bowman was seventh to put all four Hendrick Motorsports cars in the top 10.

Austin Dillon in eighth gave Chevrolet six cars in the top 10.

Landon Cassill recorded the most laps in the session with 37. He was 32nd on the speed chart.

Click here for the speed chart.

Shane Lee to drive for new Xfinity team with Circuit City sponsorship

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CONCORD, N.C. — Former Richard Childress Racing driver Shane Lee will compete for a new Xfinity Series team, H2 Motorsports, the team announced Thursday at Charlotte Motor speedway

Owned by 23-year-old entrepreneur and venture capitalist Matt Hurley, the team will be sponsored by Circuit City and will field Lee in the No. 28 Toyota with support from Toyota Racing Development. They’ll debut June 16 at Iowa Speedway with plans to compete for the rest of the season.

Circuit City, which is primarily an online store now, was notably a sponsor of Hut Stricklin from 1996-98 in the Cup Series.

“I grew up an avid race fan, my parents are from the Midwest and I’ve followed the sport very, very closely since I was a young kid,” Hurley said. “More recently felt like there was an opportunity to go into the sport and bring some of our invested brands back into the sport. I’ve really taken an interest in kind of trying to find a way in.

“We felt like now is the right time to enter the sport, to come in in a competitive way. … Felt like TRD was the right partner to help us do that in a competitive way.”

Lee, 25, competed in the Xfinity Series last year, making 13 starts in RCR’s No. 3 Chevrolet. His best result and only top five was a fourth-place finish at Kansas Speedway in October.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Lee said. “I met Matt at a couple races last year. We actually became pretty good friends and we weren’t really even working on a racing deal. Probably January or February we started talking about the race deal and wanting to get into racing. We sort of went from there and he got himself figured out and he really went down the line and hired some really good people.”

Lee will be paired with crew chief Pete Rondeau. Rondeau has 103 Cup races to his name, including as crew chief for Regan Smith’s 2011 Southern 500 win.

Rondeau also has one Xfinity Series win with Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Bristol in 2004.

“I’ve had a history of accepting challenges,” Rondeau said. “As we did with Furniture Row team, we worked hard and … it ended up flourishing into a championship-caliber team. To me this is no different right here. We have a good core group and I’m happy to work with them. It’s going to be fun and a whole lot of work at the same time.”

Gallery: Coca-Cola 600 patriotic paint schemes

Photos by Daniel McFadin
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With Memorial Day weekend here, many NASCAR teams will be racing patriotic paint schemes in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Here’s a look at the unique schemes that will compete in NASCAR’s longest race.

All photos by Daniel McFadin.

Landon Cassill – No. 00 Chevrolet

Brad Keselowski – No. 2 Ford

Ryan Newman – No. 6 Ford

Aric Almirola – No. 10 Ford

Ty Dillon – No. 13 Chevrolet

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – No. 17 Ford

William Byron – No. 24 Chevrolet

Corey LaJoie – No. 32 Ford

 

Michael McDowell – No. 34 Ford

Matt Tifft – No. 36 Ford

David Ragan – No. 36 Ford

Ryan Preece – No. 47 Chevrolet

Jimmie Johnson – No. 48 Chevrolet

Cody Ware – No. 51 Ford

Bayley Currey – No. 52 Ford

BJ McLeod – No. 53 Chevrolet

Alex Bowman – No. 88 Chevrolet

 

Kyle Larson wins Speed 51 Open kart race

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Kyle Larson kept his winning ways going Wednesday night when he won an Outlaw Kart race at Millbridge Speedway in Salisbury, North Carolina.

Four days after his win in the Monster Energy All-Star Race, Larson took the lead on Lap 2 of the 51-lap Speed 51 Open and led the rest of the way.

Larson held off Chase Majdic for the win, his second in the event.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver won despite losing his muffler in the middle of the race and having to replace his left side upper wing earlier in the night after a qualifying event.

Larson has a busy weekend ahead of him with World of Outlaws races at The Dirt Track at Charlotte on Friday and Saturday night, the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, and the Word of Outlaws’ Memorial Day Classic at Lawrenceburg Speedway in Indiana on Monday.