John Hunter Nemechek shows marked improvement in Iowa debut
NEWTON, Iowa - John Hunter Nemechek had high expectations for this weekend.
He was hoping for a top five finish but wound up 10th. However, the 17-year-old had reason to be positive about his performance in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race tonight at Iowa Speedway.
“We struggled through practice, we struggled through qualifying, and we struggled in the race,” Nemechek said. “We never got our truck right to where it needed to be. There were a bunch of variables that we still don’t know because we’re a new team and we’re still trying to figure all that stuff out.
“Coming here with a 10th place finish, we gained some points on some people which was really [good], but at the same time it’s kind of disappointing that we didn’t finish any better.”
Although Nemechek humbly claimed he struggled, the driver of the No. 8 Toyota Tundra displayed steady progress throughout the session. He was 16th at the end of the morning practice, qualified 14th and finished 10th.
Overall, it was a respectable outing for the high school senior and his family-owned team.
“I don’t really know how we could have been better,” Nemechek said. “I mean, we threw a bunch of stuff at it, we threw the kitchen sink at it there just to see what it would do and trying to get it to the point where it would be good during the race.”.
“I was really tight during practice, then it rained, then I got really loose during qualifying then I got really tight in the race. It got cooler and the track got a little bit more grippier and it made it snugger and it made it tighter.”
The rain washed off the rubber that the track had gained in morning practice. The trucks returned to the track after the IndyCar drivers ran an abbreviated morning practice, afternoon practice and qualifying.
For John Hunter’s father, Joe Nemechek, is was the performance of the team that let him down.
“I’m very happy with what he (John Hunter) did and how he performed on the race track.” the elder Nemechek said. “What I’m disappointed with is how myself and the rest of the crew had the truck set up. We just missed it too far from being good enough for him to be up in the top three. And we have some high expectations for how we want to run, and we just missed it today.”
“We were off too far and we had to make way too many guesses. We don’t have a whole bunch of notes to fall back on and say ‘okay, what’s this going to do, what’s this going to do, what’s the nighttime going to do.’There’s a lot of variables that we don’t have access to, so we’re doing a lot of guessing, but we were too far off on our chassis in first practice. We got it close, but we needed to change some springs to make it better.”
John Hunter remained characteristically optimistic following his second top-10 in his fourth truck start this season.
“I think we learned a little bit of what we needed to do, but at some point we’re still guessing and trying to make all of our stuff better,” he said.