MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Officials from Sam Hunt Racing announced Wednesday that John Hunter Nemechek will run select NASCAR Xfinity Series events in the team’s No. 26 Toyota this season.
The news was confirmed via social media before Nemechek took questions regarding the new deal during a conference call with reporters.
“Being able to go and run a few Xfinity Series races this year with Sam Hunt is definitely going to be something that I’m looking forward to,” said Nemechek. “Sam is probably one of the youngest owners in the garage and someone that has had a lot of passion and a lot of dedication to the sport. I feel like he is kind of running his team the same way that I was brought up — a limited number of people, grinding it out with a very small team. It’s been amazing to see what he’s been able to do with his team in such a short period of time.
“I look forward to running a few races with him and just going and turning laps and trying to get more experience under my belt and, hopefully, we can put forth a full-fledged effort to be able to try to win a race or two — more or less just going and trying to perform the best that we can.”
Nemechek noted he’s known Hunt for some time, but that this was the first time the two of them had the opportunity to put a driving deal together.
“I feel like Sam (Hunt) and I have known about each other for a long time, through mutual friends or whatever it may be. I know he was running back in the K&N (Pro Series) East there for a while as I was coming up (through the ranks) and we had talked about running races before and just nothing ever happened,” Nemechek recalled. “This whole deal really came about earlier this year when I made the swap back to Toyota with Kyle Busch Motorsports. It’s something that I feel like has been on our radar and been on Sam’s radar. We want to help each other the best that we can.
“He wants to provide a great car that can win races and I want to give him the best feedback that I know how, to helphim grow his team to where he wants it to be,” he continued. “I feel like it’s going to be a mutual effort and a mutual sense where we can both help each other a lot.”
Nemechek will debut in the No. 26 Toyota for Hunt at Dover (Del.) Int’l Speedway on May 15. It will mark his first Xfinity Series start since the 2019 season finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway.
“I think two of our races right off the bat are Dover and Richmond,” Nemechek said. “I’m not sure what other races we’re possibly looking at running, but I know that those two are the first ones on the list for us. I like short tracks. I like Dover. I like Richmond. They’re tracks I feel like I’ll be strong at.
“I feel like that’s where Sam (Hunt) and his team can definitely excel and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in the No. 26 Supra.”
Hunt is looking forward to having a driver of Nemechek’s caliber join his organization.
“I’m excited to have John Hunter come back to his roots and drive for our young team in 2021,” Hunt said. “He’s always been a mutual friend of mine, always been extremely friendly, and has always shown that he can maximize his equipment and represent his sponsors. Working with so many rookies this year, his experience and feedback will be invaluable to our program’s growth.
“I know he can help us just as much as we can help him and I think it’s cool to see a guy like him so excited about joining our small team with intentions to improve it as a whole. The entire shop is extremely excited about it and I know he’ll be able to help us improve our cars throughout the year.”
Though he’s chasing a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship with Kyle Busch Motorsports, Nemechek is eager to step behind the wheel of Hunt’s equipment and expand his schedule.
“As a driver, I want to race everything that I possibly can. whether it’s sports cars, NASCAR, whatever it may be. I’m all for driving whatever I can and racing whatever I can,” he explained. “The more laps and the more that you’re in contention to win races, the better. I’m always learning. Every time I’m turning laps, I’m always learning and putting knowledge and information into your notebook. It’s things that as a driver you can hold onto and put into your bank for a long time.”