John Hunter Nemechek is #Here4Wins

John Hunter Nemechek is #Here4Wins
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

John Hunter Nemechek returned to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for one simple reason—to win.

Team owner Kyle Busch had faith in the 24-year-old racer to do just that. Since 2017, when Christopher Bell won the truck title, only Busch has been able to score multiple wins for KBM.

The driver/owner’s frustration with young drivers had pegged before Nemechek joined the fold. At Charlotte Motor Speedway, Nemechek won his third truck race of the season, giving KBM its sixth victory in the first 10 events. 

“We’re #Here4Wins and we’ve been using that hashtag since I announced I was coming to KBM last year, and it’s a dominant team, dominant truck every single week,” Nemechek said. “We’re going to have weeks where we’re off and we’ll struggle, but we’ll keep getting through it.”

The connection between the Nemecheks and Busch can be traced back to 2003 when J.H's father, Joe Nemechek, raced for Hendrick Motorsports and Kyle was an HMS development driver running a limited schedule in the Busch Series. While Busch had attempted to enlist John Hunter for selected races, the timing was never right.

Fast forward to last year. Nemechek had been recruited to race in the NASCAR Cup Series for Front Row Motorsports. For a fierce competitor like Nemechek, running mid-pack was not fulfilling. Fortunately, Nemechek was a frequent passenger on Busch's airplane as the drivers flew to and from the race track, and a friendship developed between the two as they spent more time together.

“Kyle and I had quite a few conversations as I was hitching rides with him last year, flying to the Cup deal,” Nemechek said. “We had a lot of deep, heart-to-heart conversations about life and racing, We would talk about our days afterward on post-race flights. It really created a relationship between Kyle and I.

“That kind of started it, and then from there, Toyota was a huge factor in getting me on board as was Kyle. Kyle kept saying he wanted a veteran driver—a Matt Crafton-like kind of guy. I guess that was me at 23-years-old, which is kind of crazy but kind of cool to hear. And I think it has definitely shown this year.”

The second-generation driver started his NASCAR career at 16. He competed in four full seasons of trucks and finished a career-best eighth in the standings twice, before graduating to the Xfinity Series in 2018. But never has he enjoyed a season like this year behind the wheel in the No. 4 KBM Tundra. Holding out for the right opportunity paid off. In 10 races, Nemechek has three wins, six top fives, and eight top 10s. He has led the points standings since his first victory with the team at Las Vegas—Busch’s home track—on March 5.

“Overall, just a real strong year for us so far at KBM,” Busch said. “This is a pleasure year so far. It’s cool to have John Hunter. We really lean on each other a lot.”

Nemechek’s progress has captured the attention of both Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing. On Friday, JGR announced Nemechek would join their Xfinity Series lineup behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota Supra. He’ll make his first of three starts with JGR at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 17.

“We are looking forward to having John Hunter in the car for these races,” said Steve de Souza, Executive Vice President of Xfinity Series and Development for Joe Gibbs Racing. “He has shown his ability to excel in whatever he has driven, and he is having a fantastic season in the Truck Series. It is significant for our overall program to have drivers with experience in our cars and be able to provide feedback that ultimately helps all four teams continue to improve as we get closer to the Playoffs.”

Nemechek’s addition to the JGR Xfinity roster should put the full-time drivers on notice. Toyota’s only wins in the Xfinity Series have come from the No. 54 team—with Ty Gibbs or Busch behind the wheel. Although Brandon Jones and Harrison Burton have won in the past, neither driver nor newcomer Daniel Hemric has visited Victory Lane in 2021. Perhaps a more stark statistic is Gibbs' average finish of 4.9 in seven NXS starts. The other three drivers’ averages are in double digits.

Nemechek is one of the hottest drivers in NASCAR. His first Xfinity win came at Kansas in his 15th start when he ran a partial season with Chip Ganassi in 2018. Nemechek finished seventh in the standings in his first full year on the tour with GMS—before the organization shuttered its NXS program. 

JGR affording Nemechek the chance to showcase his talent behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota is the next step in rebuilding his career—and his confidence.

“I am very excited about this opportunity,” Nemechek said. “Just like I’ve said all year on the trucks side, I’m here to win races. I have a lot of confidence going into these races that we’re going to have a shot to win every time out. Chris (Gayle, crew chief) and everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing has shown that they are capable of winning any given week and I expect to do the same.”
 

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