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Never Give Up: John Hunter Nemechek Rallies From Two Laps Down to Finish Eighth at Loudon

John Hunter Nemechek New Hampshire rally USA Today 301 finishes eighth

Photo Credit: Damin J. Sawyer, TobyChristie.com

Heading into a red flag for rain, which threatened to end Sunday’s USA Today 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway 82 laps shy of the race’s scheduled distance, John Hunter Nemechek sat trapped two laps down, and was well, well, well out of contention in the 31st position.

The driver of the No. 42 LEGACY MOTOR CLUB Toyota Camry XSE entered the weekend on a 12-race streak of finishing outside of the top-10, and it appeared the miserable stretch was destined to continue.

“I was sitting on the top of the box with [crew chief] Ben [Beshore] praying that we were going to be able to go back racing,” Nemechek admitted.

While the hopes looked bleek, Nemechek’s prayers were answered as NASCAR never called the race, and somehow were able to get the track in a condition to race before darkness fell in Loudon, New Hampshire. The end result was a much-needed reprieve for the 27-year-old racer.


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With qualifying washed out, and only four minutes of practice able to be run due to weather on Saturday, Nemechek was mired back in the 28th starting spot, and he and Beshore were unable to tune on their No. 42 machine in their first run at The Magic Mile together. They found themselves very much behind the eight-ball, and the adversity stacked up quickly as they struggled with an ill-handling car out of the gates. That coupled with a clean opening two Stages of the race led to Nemechek being put in a seemingly insurmountable hole.

But even with how bad they were early in the race, Nemechek, Beshore, and the No. 42 LEGACY MOTOR CLUB team never packed it in. They kept working, they kept grinding in the hopes that if the handle on the car turned around, they’d be able to find themselves in a position to capitalize.

“We were awful the first run of the race, and just worked on it all day,” Nemechek explained.

And capitalize is precisely what they did.

Against all odds, Nemechek would incredibly battle back onto the lead lap over the final 86 laps, with the assist of a rash of cautions and two free passes. Once he found himself on the lead lap, Nemechek would begin the climb through the running order.

As drivers began to get increasingly more aggressive in an effort to snag a solid result in the adverse damp conditions, several began to make mistakes. As cars bounced off of each other, spun out, and skidded into walls, Nemechek stayed steady, and was virtually mistake-free.

He cracked the top-25 on Lap 261, and then was into the top-20 by Lap 283. But he wouldn’t stop there, as Ryan Blaney and Michael McDowell spun from inside the top-three ahead of him on Lap 294, Nemechek found himself inside the top-15 heading into the final restart of the race on Lap 303.

From there, it was a made dash to the checkered flag. The rally was fevered, no doubt, but by the end of it, Nemechek had made up two laps, and had clawed his way past 23 race cars, and was credited with an eighth-place finish. His first top-10 result since a sixth-place effort at Bristol Motor Speedway in March.

Understandably, Nemechek was elated after he climbed from his race car, and he thanked his team for their never-say-die effort throughout the race.

“These guys gave it all they had. A lot of adjustments throughout the day,” Nemechek stated. “Thank you to Dollar Tree, Family Dollar for all that they do for us here at LEGACY MOTOR CLUB and Toyota, TRD. I’ll take eighth after the day we had. I think we were stuck in 31st or 32nd pretty much all day, so solid finish for us and something that we needed. Hopefully we can build some momentum off of this.”

Nemechek will now head to the 1.333-mile concrete Nashville Superspeedway as he hopes to string along a solid run of races in the second-half of the season. While Nemechek currently sits 27th in the championship standings, there was a time earlier in the year, where he looked like he may contend for a Playoff spot as he sat 15th in the standings following Circuit of the Americas, the sixth race of the season.

Then, Nemechek and his team, which are still learning each other, lost a bit of their groove. Maybe, just maybe, a rainy day rally at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will provide the spark that they needed to get it back. Either way, Sunday’s run at Loudon was impressive on all fronts for Nemechek and the No. 42 team.

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