Nemecheks attempt NASCAR tripleheader at ISM Raceway

Nemecheks attempt NASCAR tripleheader at ISM Raceway
Courtesy of the Nemechek Family

AVONDALE, Ariz -- For three decades, racing has been Joe Nemechek’s passion.

Not surprisingly, his love of speed was passed on to 22-year-old son John Hunter Nemechek, who has quickly climbed through the stock car ranks during the last six seasons.

This weekend, the father and son duo will compete together in each of NASCAR’s top three tours at ISM Raceway.

“It’s never been done before, so that should be interesting,” Joe Nemechek said of the tripleheader in the Monster Energy Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series. “It’s fun. I’m just so thankful to NASCAR for the opportunity that I’m still able to be here and get calls from some of these teams to help them evaluate where they are. Even though our cars are different, you just do it. I have so much experience. I’ve been doing this 29 years now, which is a long time. And I still love it. I wish I didn’t love racing so much.”

Starting on Friday, the Nemecheks will team up in the family-owned Nos. 8 and 87 Chevrolets in the Trucks Series, where NEMCO has campaigned since the series debut in 1995, starting with Joe’s younger brother John, for whom John Hunter is named. John passed away in 1997 from injuries sustained at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

In Saturday’s Xfinity Series contest, Joe, 56, will drive the No. 177 Chevy for Rick Ware Racing. J.H. will continue behind the wheel of the No. 23 GMS Racing Chevy. John Hunter will continue in his substitute role driving the No. 36 Front Row Motorsports Ford in Sunday’s Cup feature, while Joe will race the No. 27 Premium Motorsports Chevy.

After Matt Tifft suffered a seizure two weeks ago at Martinsville Speedway, J.H. was recruited to drive the No. 36 Ford for the remainder of the season. That opened the door for the Nemechek’s  to enjoy this historic weekend.

“It’s pretty cool to be able to compete against my dad in the top level of this sport,” John Hunter said. “I feel like there’s not many sports that father and sons can say that. Next week, being able to run all three together and make history is pretty special.

“Once everything came to fruition, myself running the Cup car and he was already scheduled to run Phoenix. He was scheduled to run all three, I was only scheduled to drive two, so we added one. But it’s pretty neat to say we’ll be racing all three."

Last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, J.H. made his Cup debut and finished 21st—the top result for Front Row Motorsports that Sunday. With Joe Nemechek driving the No. 15 Chevy and finishing  29th, the Texas AAA 500 marked the first time a father and son had raced together since Bobby Hamilton and Bobby Hamilton Jr. did so at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2005. The elder Nemechek was also in that race, driving for MB2 Motorsports. He finished 18th.

Joe Nemechek has 1,182 starts in NASCAR’s top tours. He has served as mentor, team owner and teammate to his son. John Hunter made his Truck Series debut at Martinsville Speedway in 2013.

It wasn’t until the younger Nemechek turned 18 in 2015 that he was able to compete at all venues in the Truck Series. When he was able to run the full schedule, Nemechek finished eighth in the truck standings during both the 2016 and 2017 seasons. In 98 starts, J.H. has six wins, two poles, 28 top fives and 49 top 10s.

John Hunter ran a limited Xfinity schedule with Ganassi Racing last year and won in his 15th start. He was recruited by GMS for 2019, but the company is currently transitioning to a truck-only operation for 2020. The opportunity with Front Row Motorsports could not have come at a better time for the young racer, whose plans are undetermined for next year.

“He’s up there trying to win every week and we’re just on a different program,” Joe said of John Hunter. “Everyone knows he can wheel a race car. You get the equipment right, and he’s going to go like heck, man. No question. He’s one of those that you really have to hold back. You don’t have to prod him--you have to pull back on the reins.”

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