This past weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, it was visible things didn’t go as planned for NEMCO Motorsports with finishes outside of the top-20 for father and son. However, a week before at Daytona International Speedway, the pair both came home with top-five finishes.
Throughout the 200-mile event, both John Hunter and Joe Nemechek were involved in a couple of incidents, requiring repairs on pit road. However, both were able to make the repairs in the allotted time, and get back to the front of the field to finish fourth and fifth respectively. Being able to both be in the top-five was something which meant a lot to the younger Nemechek.
“It definitely feels great after everything that we both of us went through with getting caught up in wrecks, and our guys being able to fix it with the new five-minute clock rule,” John Hunter told POPULAR SPEED. “Plate racing – it’s out of your hands in what goes on so sometimes it’s better to be lucky than to be good.”
The pair of top-fives by the Nemecheks mark the first time since 2004 that a father-son pair has both finished in the top-five in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event. In 2004 at Nashville Speedway, Bobby Hamilton won with Bobby Hamilton Jr. finishing fourth.
“Starting at Daytona, we definitely had our some ups and downs during the race, and then to rebound from it with a fourth and fifth place finish was really cool,” Joe Nemechek said. “The speedway racing is something that you got to have a little luck involved to make it to the end, and we definitely had a bit of luck.”
Coming off the success at Daytona, it made the Atlanta result a little harder stomach, especially after high expectations entering following John Hunter’s win last year.
“We were fast off the truck, and I felt like we were going to contend for the win at the end,” John Hunter said. “We kept making adjustments throughout the day, getting the truck better, but we flew a right front, and it ended our day.”
Despite the rough start, confidence is still high for John Hunter as he feels he has a strong team behind him.
“I feel like we’re going to be able to contend for wins week-in-week-out,” he said. “We’ve kind of changed our mindset a little with the new segment rule coming in. I feel like it definitely be more exciting with the more tracks that that we get to. I feel good about our year. I feel like it’ll be a good year.”
The confidence comes after last season, where the youngster posted a pair of wins and 11 top-10s en route to finishing 11th in the series standings. The success has certainly brought out a lot of pride for Joe when he speaks about his son.
“It’s definitely been entertaining,” Joe said of John Hunter. “You look at how they learn and the things they learn, and how they’re able to adapt and it’s really cool to watch. The same thing as when your kids are growing up, and learn how their minds think and what they do. He’s definitely very talented young man, and a talented racecar driver, and a very smart person.”
This year, John Hunter feels the team can win some races, but also focus on being more consistent on a weekly basis.
“Last year, we were able to win races but weren’t consistent on a weekly basis. We had some great runs, but we had tons of mediocre runs,” John Hunter said. “I want to be able to run up front every week and win races and show our potential.”
The success that the team has been able to have has come as a surprise to many, based on the lack of funding behind the NEMCO Motorsports with John Hunter’s No. 8 Chevrolet Silverado appearing unsponsored several times throughout the season. It’s something that’s come together as a result of team’s direct hands-on approach they’ve always had.
“It’s tough because we have an awful lot of machinery, a lot of parts and pieces, but we do a lot of our own machine work and make 90% of our parts and pieces that go on our trucks,” Joe said. “So to that extent, it’s interesting and gives us some challenges in how we can improve and think of ways we can get better as a team without spending a lot of team. It makes you think outside of the box.”
While admitting there have been frustrating times, John Hunter says it shows the strength of their team.
“We have a lot of guys that work really hard in the shop that are dedicated to working as many hours in the shop as needed to get the trucks done,” he said. “We try to utilize our equipment as best as we can to make sure we have good trucks when we get to the race track. You can have resources, but if you don’t use them correctly or all the time, then they’re not really good. I feel like we’ve been great at utilizing the resources.”
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