Add John Hunter Nemechek’s name to the list of candidates for 2020 NASCAR Cup Rookie-of-the-Year.
Front Row Motorsports announced on Friday the second-generation racer will pilot the No. 38 Ford Mustang next season. Nemechek, 22, filled in for the sidelined Matt Tifft for the final three races of 2019. The newcomer outran his veteran teammates in all three events.
Clearly, Nemechek’s audition with FRM paid off in a big way.
"I'm thrilled for the opportunity to drive for Bob Jenkins and Front Row Motorsports," Nemechek said. "Having driven the last three races with this team in 2019, I feel like we already have a foundation to start the 2020 season. I'm looking forward to continuing to build FRM.”
Nemechek developed his skills in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series with his family’s team. He scored six wins in 99 starts and finished eighth in the standings twice before graduating to the Xfinity Series. With a limited schedule at Chip Ganassi Racing, Nemechek won in his 15th-career start.
In his first full NXS season with GMS this year, Nemechek finished seventh in the standings with six top fives and 19 top 10s. His best finish of second came behind Cup champion Kyle Busch at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Crew chief Seth Barbour will guide Nemechek’s transition into the Cup Series. Under Barbour’s direction, Nemechek had an average finish of 23.7 in the small three-race sample—the second-best average result since the company’s inception in 2005.
"We are looking to the future with a young talent like John Hunter Nemechek," said team owner Bob Jenkins. "John Hunter impressed us at the end of last season, he comes from a racing family, and he's a winning driver. We believe that we can grow with him in the years to come.”
Front Row Motorsports will scale back to two entries next year following the retirement of David Ragan from full-time competition. Nemechek joins Michael McDowell, who will continue piloting the No. 34 Ford Mustang under the direction of crew chief Drew Blickensderfer.
"As an organization, we have made a lot of strides with the help of all our partners of our program," said McDowell. "I'm ready to build on that momentum with Drew and the rest of our team. We've always had steady growth and I think we're going to continue to see that next season.”
In his second season with FRM, McDowell, 34, posted two-top five finishes this season—a career-best—before finishing 27th in the standings.
"Michael is a veteran leader who is determined to win in the Cup Series," Jenkins added. "He gives our organization the experience we need to continue to get better. Most importantly, both Michael and John Hunter also fit our team values and are tremendous assets to our partners on-and-off the track.”