By: Ashley McCubbin
While most of his competitors have only ran a single race at Richmond Raceway, John Hunter Nemechek has been fortunate to lay a number of laps through the past couple years. He has ran three races there in the Xfinity Series, with a best finish of seventh in 2019.
“I think that the knowledge of Richmond will definitely be beneficial,” Nemechek told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “I’ve never been there in the Truck; I think Matt Crafton was the only driver left that had been to Richmond before they went back last year. So it’s going to be a new experience for me. I’ve never driven anything at Richmond Raceway with downforce before; it’s always been low difference with the Xfinity car and Cup car. It’s just one of those things that I’ll just have to adjust to and I feel I’ll be able to adjust well.
“I know that Eric (Phillips) and all the guys will have the No. 4 Safeway Toyota Tundra tuned up, so hopefully we can get the job done.”
Returning to the Truck Series this season with eyes on winning, Nemechek has been able to do that with a trip to victory lane at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Through five events, he has scored a top-seven in each race, except the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt event due to a crash.
The victory at Las Vegas goes beyond a simple checkmark in the win column, as he had to out-run his boss Kyle Busch to make it happen. While he wants to beat him as much as possible to show he can get the job done, he also is looking forward to leaning on him for advice this weekend at Richmond.
Busch has ran 30 Cup Series events at the Virginia oval dating back to 2005 with six wins, 18 top-five’s, and 23 top-10’s under his belt. More impressively, he has scored a top-nine in each of his six appearances, including two of those victories.
“He has more laps than any of us combined this weekend,” Nemechek commented. “He’s going to be tough to beat with that experience in knowing how the track changes. It’s a day race this year compared to a night race so that’s going to change the track conditions a lot. The track is going to continue to change through the day – sun, clouds. Richmond is one of those tracks that change consistently and unpredictability, so it’s going to be trying to keep up with the track, keep up with the conditions, and racing your own race and conserving tires as they fall-off big down there.
“So it’s going to come down to who conserves the most and who has the best handling truck at the end of the day.”