After winning at Kansas Speedway last year in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, John Hunter Nemechek will run the full schedule in 2019 for GMS Racing. The 21-year-old recently shared his thoughts about the upcoming season with POPULAR SPEED.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts on the opportunity?
JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK: It was great last year to run in the XFINITY Series and win a race last year. So to be in a seat full-time every week, it’s only going to mean that much more. Just very blessed and thankful for the opportunity that’s been presented. Really looking forward to the future and seeing what myself and the great people at GMS with a great infrastructure can do.
PS: What are your goals and expectations?
JOHN: I definitely want to win races and have a shot at the championship. Last year we were able to make it to the final four for Chip (Ganassi) in the owner’s championship, so hoping to be able to do that and more for Mr. Gallagher in the driver’s championship. The biggest thing is being in that final four at Homestead and having a great car. The race is going to play out how it’s going to play out, but as long as you have a shot, we’ll be satisfied.
But really just looking forward to trying to get Mr. Gallagher and the whole organization at GMS a few wins and have a good strong 2019 season.
PS: What track are you looking forward to most?
JOHN: The next one, Daytona. Looking forward to kicking the year off and keeping going each weekend with each and every race and making the most of it. That’s the biggest thing – being able to run every single week. I’ve always said my favorite race track is the one we’re at or the next one we’re going to. You have to focus on what’s upcoming and make the most of it.
PS: What are your thoughts looking back on how 2018 played out for you?
JOHN: It was definitely up and down. It was hard being in the seat for one race, and then being out a month, and then being back in for a couple. It’s hard to get into a rhythm with our guys; communication is huge. Luckily we had a great group to be around each and every weekend, whether I was driving or not, or whether it was Kyle Larson, (Jamie) McMurray, or Justin Marks. I was still at the race track listening on the radio trying to make the most out of the situation and just trying to learn.
I learned a lot from those guys and we were able to get a win. Then we were able to make a really strong run being in the car every week towards the end of the year. I think I ran six in a row, and I showed that I was a contender for sure. I think being in the car every single week is going to be a huge benefit.
PS: What track that currently isn’t on the schedule would you like to see added?
JOHN: Short tracks. I love short tracks. I grew up racing late models across the country. I don’t know if there’s really one track that really stands out more than another, but short tracks are a lot of fun beating and banging. I’ve always enjoyed Martinsville in the Camping World Truck Series so it’d be cool to have a triple header there under the lights one day.
PS: If you were in charge of NASCAR for one day, what is one change that you would make?
JOHN: To tell you the honest truth, I don’t know the answer to that question. I feel we have a great structure in NASCAR with continued changes throughout the years and getting back now to where it used to be. I think going back to more short tracks, like I said, would be awesome; just being able to run different local events would be awesome. I think it’d be an outstanding show for sure.
PS: We’ve seen a lot of talk recently about drivers wanting to try different series and cars. Is there anything on your wish list?
JOHN: Anything and everything. I know that I’ve wanted to drive a midget talking to Chase Briscoe, Christopher Bell, and Kyle Larson, or a sprint car talking to Josh Wise. I feel like that’d be a blast being able to go run there one time. It was neat to see Jimmie (Johnson) do the seat swap with Fernando (Alonso). That was really cool being able to see Jimmie run an F1 car. I always thought being able to run an IndyCar or F1 car would be awesome one day. Hopefully the goal is to make it to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, but I’d love to be able to pull the double one day running the Indy 500 and Coke 600. We just have to make it there first.
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