If top-10 finishes have any pull between John Hunter and Joe Nemechek, the 17-year-old son earned a few bragging rights Friday night.
John Hunter Nemechek finished 10 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway. It was his second top-10 finish this season in four races.
Age restrictions limit the younger Nemechek from competing in all 22 NCWTS events. So when John Hunter isn’t on the track, the elder Nemechek takes his shot in the truck, creating a unique father-son competition between the two.
“It’s pretty cool,” John Hunter said of racing alongside his dad, a long-time veteran in the sport. “We give each other a lot of crap. You’re always on top of each other and who has the bragging rights. It’s almost like a family rivalry within our team. He has the best finish of the year, so I’m still trying to up that.”
The 2014 season has seen father and son one-up each other’s finishes on the track. Joe placed eighth at Daytona to start the year. John Hunter then finished sixth at Dover May 30. The next week, Joe reclaimed the family’s ownership of top finish by placing third in Forth Worth.
“After Dover, a couple of our guys were giving me crap because Dad had finished eighth and I had only finished 11th at Martinsville and they were like, well you need to step it up,” John Hunter said. “I think after the race, that was the first thing I said was, yeah, I have the sixth place finish now and he has an eighth place finish. He has a third now, so I can’t really speak to that, but we’re working to get there.”
Added Joe: “Once in a while we text each other just to rub it in a little bit. If he’s running good, you don’t have to say anything.”
The highlight of John Hunter’s season thus far came about a month ago at Gateway Motorsports Park when he led 53 laps. He raced 2013 points champion Matt Crafton for the lead in the Drivin’ for Linemen 200, which helped create quite the memory for John Hunter.
“It’s an awesome feeling just to lead. To do it against Matt Crafton and battle with him really hard and clean, just being able to race with those guys up front, I think we gained a lot of respect,” he said. “You can’t get too excited. You have to stay focused in order to lead more … If they got a nose under you, you try being patient and beat them off the corner. There were a few times where Matt got his nose underneath me, but I could hold him off on the outside, so it was a fun race. Just running against Matt Crafton, the series champion, was really cool and being able to lead laps.”
John Hunter said having a teammate like his father with a wealth of experience has helped his grow as a driver.
“It’s been a neat year,” Joe said. “Believe me, there’s some short tracks I’d like to go run and there’s some big tracks he’d like to go run, but because of the rules you can’t do that. We’re trying to figure out our trucks a little bit better each week and we’ve been making gains.”