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John Hunter Nemechek to make 100th Xfinity career start at Phoenix

The 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series season is set to mark John Hunter Nemechek’s first official opportunity to contend for his first Xfinity Series championship during this weekend’s Xfinity Series season-finale event at Phoenix Raceway. The finale is also set for the second-generation racer to achieve a significant milestone start. By competing in the finale, the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Supra will make career start No. 100 in the Xfinity circuit.

A native of Mooresville, North Carolina, Nemechek made his inaugural presence in the Xfinity Series in 2018 when he was signed by Chip Ganassi Racing to pilot the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro on a part-time basis. By then, he had won both the Snowball Derby and the All American 400 in 2014 and was a three-time winner of the SpeedFest 125. He had also campaigned in two Truck Series seasons, where he had accumulated five victories and made the Playoffs in 2016 and 2017.

Making his Xfinity Series debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February, Nemechek rallied from being involved in an early incident with Cole Custer and Elliott Sadler to finish an impressive fourth place. He went on to post six additional top-10 results during his next 13 scheduled starts. Then at Kansas Speedway in October, Nemechek rallied from sliding through his pit stall to lead 64 of 200 laps and beat Daniel Hemric by more than five seconds to claim his first Xfinity career victory and become the fourth first-time winner of the 2018 season.

By recording the sixth victory of the season for Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 entry and winning the first Round of 8 event in the Xfinity Playoffs, Nemechek secured a spot for the No. 42 team to compete for the owner’s championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. He went on to finish no lower than ninth during the final three Xfinity events on the schedule, including a third-place run during the season-finale event at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as the No. 42 team ended up in second place in the owner’s standings.

In 2019, Nemechek was signed by GMS Racing to drive the No. 23 Chevrolet Camaro on a full-time basis. He commenced the season by finishing eighth at Daytona International Speedway in February before finishing second behind Kyle Busch at Las Vegas Motor Speedway a month later. With a total of four top-five results and 12 top-10 results throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch, Nemechek clinched a spot in the 2019 Xfinity Playoffs. Despite finishing no lower than 15th during the Round of 12, he was one of four competitors to not transfer to the Round of 8. Nonetheless, he concluded the season with four consecutive top-eight results and in seventh place in the final standings.

While he did not record a victory throughout the season, he captured a total of six top-five results, 19 top-10 results and an average-finishing result of 12.5. A month later, Nemechek moved up to the Cup Series to drive for Front Row Motorsports for the 2020 season.

Upon returning to the Truck Series to drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports and compete for the series championship in 2021, Nemechek also made five starts in the Xfinity circuit between Sam Hunt Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing. Nemechek’s first start of the season occurred at Dover Motor Speedway with SHR in May, where he finished 32nd after being involved in an early incident. He then posted a strong third-place run at Richmond Raceway in September with SHR before finishing 22nd at Talladega Superspeedway in October while driving for JGR.

Then at Texas Motor Speedway in mid-October, Nemechek rallied from serving a late pit road speeding penalty to lead a race-high 92 of 200 laps and beat teammate Hemric to claim his second career victory in the Xfinity circuit and the 10th victory of the season for JGR’s No. 54 Toyota team. He made his final start of the season in the finale at Phoenix Raceway in November, where he finished in sixth place after leading 39 laps and placed JGR’s No. 54 entry in the runner-up spot in the final owner’s standings.

Nemechek remained a full-time Truck competitor for KBM in 2022 while also increasing his part-time Xfinity schedule from five to 11 between Sam Hunt Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing. In 11 scheduled starts, he recorded three top-five results and four top-10 results. His best result driving for JGR was second at Richmond Raceway in April after being overtaken by Ty Gibbs on the final lap while his best result with SHR was fourth at Darlington Raceway in May.

Following a two-year campaign with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series, Nemechek joined Joe Gibbs Racing as a full-time competitor of the No. 20 Toyota Supra for the 2023 Xfinity season, which marks his first full-time campaign in the series since 2019. After commencing the season with a close runner-up result at Daytona, he claimed his first victory of the season in the series’ final event at Auto Club Speedway in February. Six races later, he scored his second victory of the season at Martinsville Speedway after leading a race-high 198 of 250 laps.

Nemechek would proceed to claim regular-season victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July before winning at Michigan International Speedway in August, where he recorded the 200th Xfinity career victory for Joe Gibbs Racing. Nemechek then capped off the regular-season stretch by winning the regular-season finale at Kansas in September. Despite falling short of winning the regular-season title to Austin Hill, Nemechek capped off the regular-season stretch with six victories, 13 top-five results and 19 top-10 results through 26 events.

Qualifying for this year’s Playoffs, Nemechek commenced the Playoffs by finishing third at Bristol Motor Speedway before winning at Texas in late September and transferring from the Round of 12 to 8. After finishing eighth during the Round of 12 finale at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course, Nemechek proceeded to finish second, third and 18th, respectively, during the Round of 8’s three events, which was enough for him to transfer into this year’s Championship 4 round by points. As a result, Nemechek will square off against Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer and Sam Mayer for this year’s Xfinity Series driver’s championship in this year’s finale at Phoenix.

In addition to competing for this year’s title, Nemechek will attempt to become the seventh competitor to win in Xfinity career start No. 100 alongside Ronnie Silver, Jeff Green, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Cole Custer and Austin Cindric, who also won the 2020 Xfinity title during his centennial start. This season is also set to be Nemechek’s last as a full-time Xfinity competitor as he will be returning to the NASCAR Cup Series to drive the No. 42 Toyota TRD Camry for Legacy Motor Club for the 2024 season.

Through 99 previous Xfinity starts, Nemechek has achieved nine victories, three poles, 34 top-five results, 61 top-10 results, 1,587 laps led and an average-finishing result of 11.4.

Nemechek is scheduled to make his 100th Xfinity Series career start in the Xfinity Series Championship event at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday, November 4, with the event’s broadcast time slated to occur at 7 p.m. ET on USA Network.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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