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John Hunter Nemechek overcomes penalty to win NASCAR Xfinity Series Andy’s Frozen Custard 335 at Texas Motor Speedway

by Mike Haag | Posted on Saturday, October 16th, 2021

John Hunter Nemechek, winner of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Andy’s Frozen Custard 335 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 16, 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Michael C. Johnson


By Mike Haag, Raceday San Antonio

FORT WORTH, Texas – John Hunter Nemechek didn’t let a late-race penalty ruin his day Saturday at the NASCAR Xfinity Series Andy’s Frozen Custard 335 at Texas Motor Speedway.

John Hunter Nemechek. Photo by Michael C. Johnson

When Nemechek was issued a late-race penalty for having too many crew members over the wall during a pit stop and forced to the back of the field, he used the infraction to his advantage, which motivated both Nemechek and his team to get to Victory Lane.

Nemechek, who was making his second start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Joe Gibbs Racing, ended up notching his second NASCAR Xfinity Series victory in 56 races and his second victory at Texas Motor Speedway this season. On June 12, he won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 220 race.

John Hunter Nemechek. Photo by Michael C. Johnson

“I can’t say enough about this whole team,” Nemechek said. “The 54 has been fast every single week. My goal coming in was to win. I had to win to prove to myself that I can do this. It’s just like taking that step back to the Truck Series. I wanted to get back to Victory Lane.”

The 24-year old driver is currently racing full time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and is a contender for the championship in that series. Tonight, he became the third different driver to win a Xfinity Series race in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

John Hunter Nemechek. Photo by Michael C. Johnson

Nemechek started 10th on the grid and quickly worked his way to the front in his ROMCO Equipment Toyota. He led three times for 92 laps in the 200-lap race.

“Huge shoutout to ROMCO Equipment Company,” Nemechek said. “Thank you to all the fans that are here. It’s an amazing accomplishment to get this done – beating a teammate as well. We’re racing for an owner’s championship. I’m back in the 54 in Phoenix, so double championships for us when we go.”

This is his first victory and second top-10 finish in 2021. It was also his first Xfinity victory and fourth top-10 finish in five races at Texas Motor Speedway.

John Hunter Nemechek. Photo by Michael C. Johnson

“It feels amazing,” said Nemechek, whose father Joe Nemechek won a victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series here in 2003. “It feels really cool to be able to be here in Victory Lane. I won the Truck race earlier this year here, and then won the Xfinity Series race here, so I’m two for two here. Just an amazing accomplishment.”

Nemechek, who won the second stage, didn’t let the penalty affect him when it was issued on Lap 143. He said that he knew he had to remain calm and focused.

“I was a little frustrated. Chris (Gayle, crew chief) and I have a joke from earlier in the week that we go from zero to the rev chip pretty easy,” Nemechek said. “I got him on the rev chip earlier, and he was on the rev chip there and I got put on the rev chip a little bit. Just an amazing accomplishment by this team. We had to stay calm. We had to do what we needed to do. We knew what we were here for. We had a fast Toyota Supra. I can’t thank the guys enough and everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing for this opportunity.”

John Hunter Nemechek. Photo by Michael C. Johnson

With 28 laps remaining in the race and during the 10th and final caution period, Nemechek’s crew chief called for a two-tire change instead of taking on four tires like most of the drivers did during the pit stop. He restarted the race on the front row, took the lead for good with 20 laps remaining and then he never looked back.

The margin of victory was .956-seconds over Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Daniel Hemric. Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier and Austin Cindric rounded out the top five.

About the Author

Mike Haag has covered motorsports in San Antonio and South Texas for more than 34 years. In addition to covering motorsports for the San Antonio Express-News for nearly 28 years, Mike also has co-hosted TrackSmack with Dawn Murphy for 17 race seasons. In addition to being a writer, Mike taught high school English and Journalism for 30 years before retiring in May, 2020.