Camping World Truck Series driver John Hunter Nemechek turned heads on Thursday, June 10, by tweeting pen and contract emojis. One day later, Joe Gibbs Racing provided context and confirmed that the 24-year-old will return to the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He will drive the No. 54 Toyota Supra during races at Bristol Motor Speedway (Sept. 17), Texas Motor Speedway (Oct. 16), and Phoenix Raceway (Nov. 6).
“I am very excited about this opportunity,” Nemechek said, per Jayski. “Just like I’ve said all year on the trucks side, I’m here to win races. I have a lot of confidence going into these races that we’re going to have a shot to win every time out. Chris (Gayle, crew chief) and everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing have shown that they are capable of winning any given week and I expect to do the same.”
Nemechek has more than 200 starts on his career resume, spread across the top three national series. He spent the entire 2020 season as a rookie in the Cup Series, finishing top-10 three separate times. Nemechek has made another 52 starts in the Xfinity Series, reaching Victory Lane once in 2018.
However, Nemechek has achieved the most success in the Camping World Truck Series. He has 112 starts in nine years and nine trips to Victory Lane. He currently leads the Truck Series in points (445) with three wins in 2021, six top-five finishes, and seven stage wins. ThorSport driver Ben Rhodes is second with 401 points.
Nemechek Has One Xfinity Series Start in 2021
The three races in the No. 54 JGR Toyota Supra will not be Nemechek’s first Xfinity Series starts of 2021. He previously got behind the wheel of the No. 26 Toyota Supra at Dover International Speedway while driving for Sam Hunt Racing. He started 30th and finished 32nd while Austin Cindrick captured the win.
Nemechek played a part in an incident early in the race. He moved past Jeremy Clements and lined up behind Riley Herbst. However, he did not remain in this position for very long. Herbst drove at a slower pace, so Nemechek tapped his No. 98 Ford Mustang from behind and sent it spinning into Turn 4. Herbst headed to the pits for repairs to his rear bumper.
Nemechek has another race in the No. 26 on his schedule. He will return to Sam Hunt Racing on Sept. 11 for an Xfinity Series race at Richmond. Nemechek is one of several drivers making starts for the team during the 2021 season, a list that includes Brandon Gdovic, Santino Ferrucci, and Kris Wright.
Nemechek Joins a Stacked Roster of Drivers in the No. 54
The Kyle Busch Motorsports star is not the first person to drive the No. 54 during the 2021 season. Instead, he joins a stacked group that has combined for three victories so far. Kyle Busch has made one start so far, driving the Toyota Supra at Circuit of the Americas. He led 35 of the 46 laps and secured the checkered flag.
Ty Dillon (four races), Ty Gibbs (seven races), and Martin Truex Jr. (one race) have all made starts in the No. 54 to varying degrees of success. Dillon posted a season-best finish of 14th at Daytona International Speedway while Truex took second at Atlanta.
Gibbs, on the other hand, has considerable success in the No. 54. He won his first-ever Xfinity Series start at the Daytona Road Course and then added top-five finishes at Phoenix, Martinsville, Dover, and Mid-Ohio. Gibbs also reached Victory Lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
NASCAR Cup Series points leader Denny Hamlin will also take part in an Xfinity Series race before the season comes to an end. He will get behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota Supra for a September race at Darlington. Hamlin started one Xfinity Series race in 2020 (Darlington), taking fifth while teammate Brandon Jones captured the win.
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