Nemechek Makes It Two in a Row With Truck Win at Iowa

By Rob Gray, NASCAR Wire Service


NEWTON, Iowa — With six laps to go, John Hunter Nemechek made his bold, last-gasp move.




Nemechek, who charged to a Father’s Day win for his dad, Joe, last week at Gateway Motorsports Park, reprised his stirring comeback role in Friday’s pulse-pounding NASCAR Camping World Series M&M’s 200 presented by Casey's General Store at Iowa Speedway.


"Every one of these guys who works on this team, this is awesome," said John Hunter Nemechek, who passed Johnny Sauter on the high-side with six circuits left.


The dramatic ending to a race that ran remarkably clean for most of the first two stages was set up by an incident involving ThorSport teammates Grant Enfinger and Matt Crafton with 15 laps to go.


Nemechek and all the other contenders — except for Sauter — used the caution to head to pit road. Nemechek’s crew chief, Gere Kennon, outfitted the No. 8 NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet with four fresh tires.


Sound strategy?




The reason the team won?


Not necessarily.


"He drove his butt off tonight," Kennon said of Nemechek, who had notched one top-10 finish previously at Iowa. "He was awesome. It’s awesome for the (Nemechek) family."


Sauter settled for second after leading for 72 laps. The series points leader said being passed by Chase Briscoe — who led seven laps before sliding to seventh — had likely already relegated him to a second-at-best finish.


"I got taken to school by Chase Briscoe," Sauter said. "I think tonight was a second-place finish regardless."


Sauter retains a 42-point lead over Christopher Bell, who finished fifth after dominating roughly two-thirds of the race.


Nemechek notched his fifth career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win. He stood in the fourth position when he and several others emerged from that final, fateful pit stop.


"Somehow it all worked out," Nemechek said. "The last strategy call, taking four tires instead of two, there at the end, we kind of had that strategy if a caution came out towards the end we were going to come no matter what, and no matter who came, just because tires were such a big factor."


Noah Gragson earned the pole — his second of the season — held off Bell for the first 16 laps. Bell rode the high-line to surge ahead one lap later. The Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates remained 1-2 the remainder of the 60-lap opening stage, which Bell won by building a 3.2-seconds lead by the time the stint ended.


"Drove like a dream," Bell said at the time.


That blissful state lingered for the 22-year-old Oklahoman — until it was interrupted.


While the trucks directly behind Bell shuffled, his No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota continued to shine.


But dreams of any type rarely last long and Bell saw his diminished by a gamble that didn’t pay off.


With eight laps remaining in the second stage, Bell stayed on the race track while most of the other leaders pitted and added fresh tires following a caution precipitated by Mike Senica’s spin in Turn 2.


The gamble cost him. Sauter swept high to pass Bell with five laps remaining in stage two, but another caution waved after an incident involving Kaz Grala, Cody Coughlin and Ben Rhodes.


Bell remained optimistic despite his rapid drop to 12th that preceded the final stage.


"It wouldn’t be fun if it was easy," Bell said shortly before the race resumed.


Friday proved to be anything but — for everyone but the Nemecheks, who reveled in another dream-like Victory Lane celebration after spending all night getting the truck ready.


"It feels really good," said Nemechek, who earned the pole at Iowa last season and felt a measure of redemption after surging to the win this time. "This is unbelievable for sure. … Restarting fourth there and pushing Johnny into Turn 1, I was kind of in the catbird seat."

Nemechek Scores 'Incredible' NCWTS Victory at Gateway

By Matt Crossman - NASCAR Wire Service


ST. LOUIS, Mo. - "Happy Father’s Day!" a crew member shouted at team owner Joe Nemechek Saturday night as track workers put together the Victory Lane stage behind them. Nemechek had already passed out a half dozen hugs and handshakes to other members of the team he owns, NEMCO Motorsports. "Incredible," was all Nemechek could muster in response after watching his son, John Hunter Nemechek, pass Matt Crafton late in the race and win the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series Drivin' for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park.


It was the fourth win of John Hunter’s trucks series career, all of them driving for his father. But it was the first in which his father was also a participant. The win puts John Hunter Nemechek in elite company. Other sons to win a NASCAR national series race against their father include Richard Petty, Kyle Petty, Davey Allison and Dale Earnhardt Jr.


The elder Nemechek completed just two laps and finished 28th out of 30 cars and watched the rest of the race from atop his son’s pit box. As the laps wound down, he tried, not terribly successfully, to remain calm as his son diced through the front of the field. He keyed the mic a couple times and told his son, "Be smart."


It was advice the younger Nemechek took to heart. His trucks have been far faster than his results have shown so far this season, and the last thing he wanted to do was be impatient and drive himself out of a good finish. He crashed in the two previous races and had only finished on the lead lap twice all season.


John Hunter Nemechek led all 35 laps of the first stage of the race and 46 overall. Chase Briscoe led all of the second stage. Matt Crafton seized control of the race when he took zero tires on a green flag pit stop at Lap 138 of 160.


The first and only caution that wasn’t related to the end of a stage didn’t come until there were 13 laps left—an unusually long stretch of green flag racing considering how difficult of a track Gateway is to navigate. The caution bunched the field back up, and Nemechek, who had two fresher tires, squeezed by Crafton for the final time with five to go.


"I felt like we had the truck to beat if we had track position," Nemechek said. "Track position was everything. Clean air was everything."


When John Hunter pulled into Victory Lane, his dad ran over and stuck his head in the window. They shared a moment about all of the struggles they overcame together to win this race on Father’s Day eve. They can't outspend other teams, so they have to out think and out drive them.


"It’s taken everything that I have to get here," Joe Nemechek said. "Our future in this deal is not certain. Hopefully this can spark some interest in sponsorship."


Joe knew his son would be emotional in Victory Lane, and he wanted to tell him he was proud of him before the chaos of the celebration began. "He’s the man. He drove his butt off tonight," he said.


John Hunter’s emotions poured out in the post-race celebration. "To give him a Father’s Day gift, something like this, is very special. As a boss, as a mentor, as a dad, pretty much everything he is to me, it’s definitely inspiring. I won’t ever be able to thank him enough."