By: Toby Christie – @toby_christie
If you’re a top tier NASCAR Camping World Truck Series or NASCAR Xfinity Series team owner, you should be making phone calls right now to get John Hunter Nemechek behind the wheel of your race cars.
What the 20-year-old driver has done in his brief 62-race Truck Series career is astonishing, made even more incredible by his current emotion-fueled two-race winning streak with his back against the wall. A couple of weeks ago, Nemechek was facing an uncertain sponsorship situation at his family-owned NEMCO Motorsports race team.
Nemechek now has five victories in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and he has done it all with a race team that houses seven — that’s right single digits — full-time employees. In all the team has 11 employees who help build and tune the two trucks that the NEMCO team fields. The team is not aligned with a Cup Series team, and they don’t have pools of engineers to help them get their truck in perfect shape before heading to a race track like many other race teams in the sport today.
Nemechek’s reputation took a huge hit when he totally wiped out Cole Custer for the win at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park last season, but he has really begun winning people back over this year.
While Nemechek continues to impress with a lack of resources, many other drivers buy their way into top tier equipment with sponsorship backing, yet they rarely find their way to the front of the field.
Take Cody Coughlin as an example of a driver, who is on a team with tons of resources, that just isn’t getting the job done currently. Coughlin has 21-career starts in the Truck Series, and most of them have come behind the wheel of Kyle Busch Motorsports or Thorsport Racing equipment — two of the powerhouse organizations in the series. To date, Coughlin has yet to finish a race inside the top-10, and he has led just three laps.
For every Kyle Larson or Chase Elliott that come through the sport there are 10 — or more — Larry Foyts or Cody Coughlins.
When Nemechek won at Gateway a couple of weeks ago, his father Joe Nemechek was asked in victory lane what he thought of his son. The elder Nemechek responded by saying that John Hunter would be a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion someday.
Usually you would expect an answer like that to be a dad’s rose tinted glasses view of his son’s talent, but I am becoming a firm believer that John Hunter Nemechek could win NASCAR’s ultimate prize — if given a shot in proper equipment.
In the past two weeks, Nemechek has flat-out bested guys like Johnny Sauter, Chase Briscoe (Ford Racing’s hottest development talent), Christopher Bell (Joe Gibbs Racing’s next hot shot) and Matt Crafton.
Nemechek is that good, and he has shown the killer instinct when the trophy is dangling out in front of him. It’s about time that a top-tier team takes a chance on John Hunter Nemechek, sponsorship be damned.
Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/NASCAR via Getty Images