John Hunter Nemechek kicked off his 2016 season the only way he knows how, with a win in the JEGS/CRA 125 at SpeedFest. This make it a three-peat for the 18-year-old driver who still has yet to finish anywhere other than victory lane in any JEGS/CRA Pro Late Model race he’s entered.
“Winning the Pro (Late Model) race was something special,” said Nemechek. “To win it here three years in a row and still be undefeated in the JEGS Series is something I’m really happy about.”
Nemechek set fast time in his Pro Late Model early in the day and, with the invert, started the 125-lap feature from the ninth position. He drove to the lead on lap 64 with a three-wide pass and held off a series of challenges on late race restarts to start his 2016 campaign off with a victory.
Soon after his Pro Late Model win, Nemechek climbed behind the wheel of his Rocky Ridge Custom Trucks No. 8 Super Late Model for the SpeedFest 200.
Nemechek raced towards the front of the field throughout the 200-lap event, taking the lead on lap 188. With two laps to go the battle for the lead heated up between Nemechek, Bubba Pollard and William Byron. Contact was made among the top three drivers in turns one and two. Nemechek paid the price from the tangle that started behind him and went for a spin from the lead that ultimately cost him a shot at a SpeedFest sweep.
“When it came down to it everyone was bumping and rubbing” said Nemechek, “And rubbing’s racing. We had the best car there at the end. On that final restart we got the jump and got out to the lead and, I don’t know, we got spun out. It is what it is, but if someone has to spin you for the win it’s kind of uncalled for.”
Nemechek restarted the final two laps at the rear of the field and brought home a 14th place finish.
Next up for Nemechek will be a return to his No. 8 Chevy in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
“I’m very excited,” said Nemechek. “We hired some new personnel over the off season, we hired a new engineer, and having Gere Kennon back as crew chief is exciting. Hopefully we start off how we ended the year last year, having finished four out of the last five races in second. Hopefully we can start off strong and go from there.”