John Hunter Nemechek Scores First Late Model Win at SpeedFest
JEGS CRA All-Stars Tour SpeedFest 125 Win Didn't Come Easy for 16-Year-Old
The first win is always the most memorable. For John Hunter Nemechek and everyone else who was at Georgia's Watermelon Capital Speedway on Sunday, the JEGS CRA All-Stars Tour SpeedFest Pro Late Model 125 was one they'll never forget.
After holding off the field through a record six green-white-checkered attempts, Nemechek finally captured his first Late Model win in his first start of the 2014 season.
"The first win means a lot," said Nemechek. "The first win is always the hardest one to get and now that we have it off our back hopefully there will be more to come. I can't thank the guys enough for all their effort."
Since his Late Model debut in 2012, Nemechek had knocked on the door of victory lane many times. He was even a series champion in 2013, but that first victory had eluded him. Before he could score that first victory, he had to patiently wait through a barrage of late-race restarts.
"We kept taking the white flag and they would throw another caution. I kept thinking, 'Is this race ever going to end?' It was definitely a fun race, but there at the end it started getting a little bit frustrating because we didn't know when the last one was going to be. We held on through all of them and got the win."
Nemechek and his team spent their off-season with one goal in mind and that was bringing home trophies in 2014. The NEMCO Motorsports No. 8 team came to Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, Georgia re-energized and ready to take on the competition.
"We have worked hard since the (Snowball) Derby and all through the off season to get these cars where they needed to be for this year," said Nemechek. "And I think we're on track. We were fastest in three practices on Friday and we were in the top-three in each practice that we took part in. We didn't qualify where we wanted to, but we still ended up (starting) fourth.
"We took the lead on lap 29 from Hunter Robbins and we had a good battle there for a little bit. Then everyone behind me started racing hard so we just maintained and waited until the end to make our move. With about 15 to go we had a caution and Garrett Jones was coming on strong, but we had a little bit better tires than he did and pulled away."
Unfortunately the second leg of SpeedFest weekend didn't end as well for Nemechek as an incident early on in the race ended his chances for a victory in the ARCA/CRA Super Series portion of the SpeedFest event. After setting the second-fastest time, Nemechek started seventh after a post-time trial redraw. He climbed up to third by lap 16 of 200 before sustaining damage that would eventually be deemed terminal.
"When Casey Smith broke at the start, Daniel Hemric turned right and it was either wreck him or turn right," said Nemechek. "It hit our left front and bent the tie rod a little bit so the wheel was misplaced. We were running third and started over heating so we had to come in to work on it and then restart at the tail. After that we got a piece of another wreck back there and it was over for us."
Nemechek now will chase his second win of the season in the Ninth Annual Pro Late Model Rattler 125 and Southern Super Series 38th Annual Hardee's Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway Saturday, March 15 and Sunday, March 16.
For more information on John Hunter Nemechek, visit www.johnhunternemechek.com, which is currently being redeveloped for 2014 by 51 Sports of Concord, North Carolina. Follow on Twitter via @JohnNemechek and on Facebook by searching John Hunter Nemechek.