After a lackluster 2020 season in the NASCAR Cup Series with Front Row Motorsports, driver John Hunter Nemechek opted to leave the sport’s top division to accept a ride in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with Kyle Busch Motorsports thinking it would be better to run up front at a lower level than to run mid-pack at the top. At the time of that move, some questioned the decision but the Mooresville, North Carolina native quickly silenced the doubters by scoring five wins and placing third in the final 2021 Truck Series standings.
Now, Nemechek is in prime position to capture his first NASCAR Xfinity Series championship driving the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. And more, it was announced earlier in September that the 26-year-old driver will wheel a Toyota in 2024 for Legacy Motor Club on the NASCAR Cup Series. That team is co-owned by Maury Gallagher and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.
After his win on Saturday in the Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway, Nemechek is now locked into the ‘Round of 8’ in the NASCAR Playoffs for the Xfinity Series. And make no mistake, this driver and team are completely focused on the task at hand despite the changes coming in the future.
“I’m focused on this year,” Nemechek declared in a recent NASCAR Media availability. “Once we signed at Legacy, it was full focus back to the Xfinity Series and Joe Gibbs Racing and trying to go win this 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.”
That mindset hasn’t changed following his ninth career Xfinity win and his first ever win in the Playoffs. The Texas win only heightened his desire to earn a championship before moving back to the Cup Series.
“I’m really excited for what’s to come here over the next few weeks,” Nemechek reiterated in the TMS Media Center on Saturday. “All the focus is on these Playoffs right now and trying to go win this championship at Phoenix.”
Rather than causing a distraction, the second-generation driver believes his signing for 2024 with Legacy has actually removed any worries that might have hampered his current run for the title.
“No distractions,” he insisted. “You’re 100% focused on the task at hand and don’t have to focus on anything else with your future being set, there’s not talks or meetings or negotiations or whatever else may be going on. If anyone tells you they’re not worried about their future, I feel like they’re lying to you. They always have that thought in the back of their head as to what they may be doing. Knowing the plan and having everything set, it’s definitely more time and more availability to focus on what you need to focus on.”
After a ‘Round of 12 third-place at Bristol Motor Speedway and a win in the Lone Star State, Nemechek and his JGR team appear to be getting hot at exactly the right time as they make their push toward the end of the season and what they hope will be a big trophy.
“It means a lot for us to advance and to really push ourselves to work harder every single week. There is no backing off the gas, it’s Playoff time so I feel like we’re trying to peak at the right time. We have fast Toyota Supras every week so it’s just how we execute and capitalize on that. As this 20 team and Joe Gibbs Racing as an organization, we’ve done really well so far this year. We just have to keep it up and that’s the biggest thing for us.”
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will conclude the first round of their Playoffs in the ‘Drive for the Cure 250’ on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval on October 7th.
Also, dirt racing fans can check out InsideDirtRacing.com for more racing content.