Monday, March 4, 2024

John Hunter Nemechek gets dress rehearsal start with Legacy at Homestead

John Hunter Nemechek might be Toyota’s top prospect today, but he will race a Chevrolet in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway as part of a unique arrangement. Legacy Motor Club announced Monday that Nemechek will drive the #42 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Homestead to provide him some experience with the team before he joins them for the full 2024 Cup calendar.

While it might seem unusual for a driver committed to a manufacturer to race for another, even if a one-off in a different series, the deal was made possible as Legacy will switch from Chevrolet to Toyota starting in 2024.

He replaces Carson Hocevar, who has been driving the #42 for the Cup Series playoffs save for the Charlotte Roval where Mike Rockenfeller did so. The team will put Hocevar back in the car for their final two races as a Chevrolet outfit at Martinsville and Homestead before he also graduates to the Cup Series in 2024.

“Thanks to our long-term partners at Chevy and our future partners of Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing, we have an opportunity to run one race this season with our future driver John Hunter Nemechek in the #42 car,” explained team co-owner Jimmie Johnson. “So just for one race, Carson’s going to step aside, he’s going to come and hang at the race and watch, and we’ll put Carson back in to close out the season.”

Nemechek ran the full Cup calendar in 2020 for Front Row Motorsports, finishing twenty-seventh in points before dropping down to the Truck Series to revitalise his career with Toyota. After a successful two-year stint there, he joined JGR’s Xfinity programme for 2023 and currently leads the standings with six wins.

He last raced a Chevrolet in 2019 when he did the full Xfinity calendar with GMS Racing; he placed seventh in the standings before the team shuttered the division. Nemechek also notched his maiden Xfinity win in a Camaro at Kansas in 2018 for Chip Ganassi Racing, while his family-owned Truck Series team was a Chevrolet outfit from 2016 to 2020.

The #42 began the 2023 season with rookie Noah Gragson, though he left the team midseason after being suspended. Josh Berry and Grant Enfinger have also made starts in the car, the latter doing so while Gragson was out due to injury. It is currently thirty-second in owner points with Hocevar holding its best run of eleventh at Bristol.

Hocevar tweeted after Monday’s announcement, “thankful for what @LEGACYMotorClub has done to help and prepare myself for next year. nothing to take for granted and i fully respect and understand them wanting to prepare themselves!”

Nemechek has three Cup starts at Homestead, with the other two starts coming on an interim basis in 2019 (twenty-third) and 2022 (twenty-seventh). He finished nineteenth there in his lone full-time season.