John Hunter Nemechek captured one of the most coveted trophies in short track racing, the Nashville guitar, when he dominated the 30th Annual All American 400 last November. After that race, the 17-year-old from Mooresville, North Carolina admitted he hadn’t played an instrument since elementary school, but said he would consider learning the guitar.
Needless to say, his busy schedule juggling school, work in the NEMCO Motorsports shop, racing Super Late Models and racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series kept him away from taking guitar lessons over the past five months. But that doesn’t mean that he’s not itching to add another guitar to his wall when he visits Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN) again this Saturday, April 11 for the 100-lap Southern Super Series event.
“I’m really happy that we’re going back. I didn’t think I was going to be able to run Nashville this year,” said Nemechek, who will compete full-time on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series circuit once he turns 18 on June 11. “We won the All American 400 there last year and t has been a great race track for us as a team. We’ve put in a lot of work at the shop and I think we’re going to be strong this weekend.”
In addition to his win at the All American 400, Nemechek crossed the finish line first during last year’s Southern Super Series event at the historic Nashville oval before being disqualified in post-race technical inspection for an overlooked part. Although he considered the All American 400 win to be redemption, he’d still like to capture a Super Late Model win at the track this weekend.
“I feel like winning in a Super is going to mean just as much after what happened last year,” Nemechek said. “I feel like going back with the Southern Super Series and getting that chance to win again there and show that it wasn’t for an overlooked part. Just to be able to go back there in a Super and win would mean a lot to the team. The All American 400 was definitely a redemption win, but to go back and win in a Super would mean just as much.”
Despite his team’s recent success at Nashville, Nemechek knows that the 5/8-mile Tennessee oval can be tricky. Because of that, he and his NEMCO Motorsports No. 8 team will be on their toes all weekend long to make sure they’re in a good position for Saturday’s 100-lap feature.
“Nashville changes 24-7,” stated Nemechek. “The race track changes and how the car handles changes, but overall it’s a fun race track. You just have to stay on top of your game all weekend. You can’t let frustration or a bad practice session get to you. You know what you’re going to have for the race and that’s what means more. It’s the race winner that everyone remembers.”
After leading 294 of 300 laps with his Pro Late Model at the All American 400, Nemechek believes his team has a setup for Nashville that will allow them to be fast right off the hauler. From that point on he’s hoping that the team will be able to focus specifically on the changes needed to get the car fast enough to win the race.
“We’ll go back to a pretty close setup from what we had at All American last year,” said Nemechek. “I feel like transferring it over to the Super and having that good long run car is something that we’d benefit greatly from. I feel like we have a good setup for Nashville, so we’ll plug that back in and get it pretty much back to where we were in the Spring and Fall last year.”
Although Nemechek has yet to have the opportunity to learn how to play his trophy guitar, he still sees it every day hanging up in the NEMCO Motorsports shop. With an empty space next to it, he has plenty of motivation to go out and win another one this Saturday.
“It’s hanging on the wall in a case. You look at it every day when you walk by and kind of remember what went on. It’s hanging up for everyone to see and it is definitely motivation. All of our trophies here are motivation for us to look at and want to put more up on the shelf.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com