John Hunter Nemechek will begin the next chapter of his racing career when he makes his debut driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports in Friday night’s NextEra Energy 250 (MRN, 7 p.m. ET) at Daytona International Speedway.
Nemechek returns full-time to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the first time since 2017 when he drove for his family-owned team, NEMCO Motorsports. The second-generation driver will pilot the No. 4 Toyota for KBM.
"I feel really confident in the team. I feel really confident in the equipment," Nemechek said this week on MRN Outloud! "So, we just have to go out and execute. Kyle and everyone at Toyota’s have kind of given me everything that I’ve asked for and wanted and hopefully we can continue to go in that direction to be successful as a team."
Nemechek grew up watching Kyle race and eventually got to compete against him in Late Models and then in all three of NASCAR’s top divisions. Busch’s first start in the Xfinity Series came with NEMCO when Hendrick Motorsports formed an alliance with the team for him to drive the No. 87 Chevrolet in seven races in 2003.
"Being able to kind of grow up around Kyle and whatnot and him be almost a mentor or an advisor that I could go to and ask questions," Nemechek said. "I mean his first start in the Busch (Xfinity) Series was with my dad at NEMCO Motorsports back in the day. So, I’ve been around Kyle, I’ve gotten to know Kyle. Kind of being able to have somewhat of a relationship there with Kyle definitely led to something like this for what we have right now. So, I’m excited for this year."
Busch recently said that KBM needed a "Matt Crafton type guy" to race for the organization. Crafton has finished in the top eight in the standings the last 14 seasons with ThorSport Racing, including three championships.
"Hopefully John Hunter can kind of help rein that in and be a part of our organization for a long time and go out there and be a guy that can race for wins and race for championships, and also help the development of some of these younger guys," Busch said. "And he is a young guy, but to help the development of some of these younger guys that come up and come in and if they move on and are able to go to the next level, then so be it."
Although still at a young age, Nemechek has made 192 starts in NASCAR’s three national series. He most recently competed in the Cup Series full time with Front Row Motorsports.
"I feel like Kyle’s was more comparing to the experience side and it’s kind of crazy at 23 you’re the one that is experienced in this whole deal," Nemechek said. "So, I’m hoping that experience pays off this year and being able to kind of bring some of the knowledge from my truck days, Xfinity days and Cup days from last year into the Truck Series this year, especially with no practice. Hopefully, a lot of that information and knowledge can transfer over."
See Also: Daytona entry list and info
All six of Nemechek’s wins in the Truck Series came with NEMCO from 2015-2018. This year, he looks to add to that total with the series’ all-time winningest crew chief Eric Phillips, who returns to the series and KBM for the first time since 2014. Twenty-seven of Phillips’ 37 wins came with KBM in a five-year span.
"Being somewhere that I know that I have the capability and I have everything that I need and all the tools and resources to be able to win races," said Nemechek, who brings the hashtag on social media, #here4wins, into 2021. "I’ve had that with a couple in the past but I feel like most of my career has kind of been the underfunded team or the team that has to work harder to get to the top in a sense. I’ve loved doing that. I love all the experience that I’ve gained from doing that and hopefully that can transition over.
"Working with Eric is going to be really, really good this year on the Toyota side with KBM. I’m just excited to get to year kicked off."