John Hunter Nemechek made his road-course debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Sunday racing at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. The 17-year old rookie, who has performed extremely well this season on tracks where he’s never before raced, was relegated to a 25th-place finish following a string of misfortunes that put the No. 8 Gaunt Collision Centre Toyota behind the wall before the race’s end. It would prove to be the first true disappointment in seven starts this season for Nemechek who has been a series standout.
The trucks first took to the 2.459-mile course for practice on Saturday morning and Nemechek spent the early portion of the session practicing patience and learning the course. Finding his No. 8 Tundra to be tight and unable to rotate through the turns properly, the team made changes accordingly. By the end of the second practice session, however, the truck was on the edge of too loose – a condition that remained through the evening qualifying session.
Lining up for the start in the 16th position, Nemechek came into race day with a positive outlook and confidence that the pre-race strategy meetings would bring good adjustments and good results.
As the green flag flew, Nemechek was off to a quick start, picking up two positions in the first circuit. Reporting that the his Tundra was tight in the center of left-hand turns and free off of the right-hand turns, the team made note of his comments as they prepared to work their strategy.
By lap 15, Nemechek had made his way into the top 10 but as he approached turn 8 of the 10-turn course, he radioed that there was an electrical fire near the top right of the dashboard. He brought the car to the attention of the SWM-NEMCO crew on pit road and eventually behind the wall for diagnosis and repairs.
Returning to the track just past the halfway point, Nemechek was settling in for an afternoon of gaining experience and making notes for the next visit north of the border, when he again radioed that there was trouble. This time he felt something broke in the drive train and eventually coasted to a stop. The damage was terminal and a day of high expectations came to a disappointing close.
“We struggled a bit from the time we unloaded, but once the race started I really felt like we could work our strategy towards a good finish today for the Gaunt Collision Centres Tundra,” said Nemechek from the garage area. “We’ve had so many good runs this year we won’t let this get us down. Road-course racing is fun but it also proved to be a challenge for us. You have to challenge yourself though or you’ll never get better. We’ll learn from it and I look forward to my next race which is New Hampshire. That’s definitely my kind of track so look for us to run strong there and hopefully contend for our first win.”
In seven starts, the 17-year old Nemechek has had an impressive season thus far. Prior to today’s race, he had not finished outside the top-15. His three finishes of sixth, at Dover, Eldora and Bristol, have kept him on the radar as a strong up-and-comer. With three races remaining on his 2014 schedule, Nemechek is focused as ever on winning his first major NASCAR race.
Next up on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule is the Lucas Oil 225 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL on Friday, September 12 where Joe Nemechek will take over the reins of the No. 8 SWM-NEMCO Tundra. A sponsorship announcement is pending for the event and will be made in the coming week. The race will air live on Fox Sports 1 at 8:00pm ET. MRN and SiriusXM Channel 90 will carry the live radio broadcast.