On September 19, 1999 Joe Nemechek drove into victory lane at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for his career-first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) win, and sixteen years later to the day, his son, John Hunter Nemechek, earned his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) victory. Nemechek raced to the win for NEMCO Motorsports in Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at the Chicagoland Speedway.
Nemechek and the No. 8 SWM-NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado team overcame plenty of adversity at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., after starting 11th in the rain-delayed American Ethanol e15 225.
Heavy rains brought out a red flag during the Keystone Light Qualifying at the Chicagoland Speedway on Friday afternoon, canceling the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series qualifying event. The field was set according to the NASCAR rule book, with Nemechek as 11th fastest in the earlier Friday practice. Inclement weather continued to plague the 1.5-mile track, ultimately forcing the postponement of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Friday night at the Chicagoland Speedway.
In the opening laps of the 150-lap event, the 18-year old driver worked his way up to the ninth position by Lap 15, when the first caution flag waved. Nemechek reported tight conditions to crew chief Gere Kennon, an issue which continued throughout the 225 mile event. During a NASCAR mandated competition caution on Lap 32, Kennon called Nemechek in for four Goodyear tires with an air pressure adjustment, a track bar adjustment and a full load of Sunoco Racing fuel. Nemechek continued his progression, moving into the top-five by Lap 50. Under the Lap 83 caution, caused by an accident on the frontstretch, the NASCAR Next member pitted for four tires and fuel. The No. 8 SWM-NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet returned to pit road two additional times as Kennon elected to fix a loose romeo window. On Lap 94, Kennon called Nemechek to pit road for the final time to top-off with Sunoco Racing fuel. Nemechek was calculated four laps short of making to the end.
With 13 laps to go, Kennon radioed to Nemechek to save fuel while running in the fifth position, as he had a lead of more than two seconds over the sixth-place truck. Fuel mileage issues began to afflict other competitors, and Nemechek quickly moved up in the running order taking the white flag for NEMCO Motorsports in the first position.
The second-generation NASCAR driver stretched his last tank of fuel to the limit, running out of gas in Turn 4 and crossing the finish line 12.015 seconds over second place. Nemechek led two laps en route to win in his 23rd NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career start.
Start – 11 Finish – 1 Laps Led – 2
JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK QUOTE:
“This is definitely a special moment, and I can’t thank these guys on this NEMCO Motorsports team enough. We work hard in the shop to put these Chevrolet trucks together, and we do the best we can. We’ve had a few close calls, but I can’t thank everyone enough.
“It’s definitely an amazing feeling to win tonight. Gere (Kennon) kept telling me to ‘save fuel, just save fuel,’ that last run and that’s what we ended up doing. I ran out (of gas) coming out of Turn 4. It was definitely a great strategy that he had worked up in his mind. I should know never to doubt him.”
JOE NEMECHEK QUOTE:
“He’s won his first Truck race. I haven’t been able to win a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race yet, and it’s his first of many to come. He’s such a talented driver. For what we’ve had to work with – he’s accomplished a lot. I am so proud of him because we have such a small group of guys on a very limited budget.”