NASHVILLE — John Hunter Nemechek calls Fairgrounds Nashville Speedway (TN) one of his favorite short tracks in the country. Now, at the young age of 16, Nemechek is ready to add a win at the track to his resume and the coveted trophy guitar to his trophy case.
After Friday night’s qualifying, the Mooresville, North Carolina driver became one step closer to his goal by claiming the pole position for Saturday’s All-American 400. Nemechek recorded a lightning fast lap of 18.912 seconds around the 6/10-mile to claim the top spot by .007 seconds over Michael Bolden.
“I really like this place,” Nemechek told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I won here in the spring with the Super Late Model and got it taken away from us, so we’re coming back with a full head of steam trying to get redemption. We want to win this race pretty bad and we want a guitar. All of these guys put in a bunch of work and I can’t thank McDonald’s enough for coming on board and making this possible.”
Bolden of Cane Ridge, Tennessee described his second-place qualifying effort as a dream come true. He isn’t sure whether or not he will be able to sleep knowing he’s on the front row for one of the biggest Late Model races in the country, the All-American 400.
“I’ll try my best to (sleep), but I don’t know,” said Bolden. “I’ll be wired up for the rest of the night. I just can’t thank these guys enough that help us. They’ve been out here freezing their butts off all weekend and fought the rain all day today. It’s incredible. I’m amazed. Shell shocked.”
Both drivers were very surprised of how much speed the track had during qualifying. After a pair of rain showers and decreasing track temperatures throughout the day, the combination of a cool race track and fresh tires resulted in very fast laps.
“We figured the pole would be a 19.0,” said Nemechek. “I didn’t think I had an 18.9 in me. It turned out to be good.”
Bolden said the he entered qualifying with the goal of running a 19.2. He figured that would put him into the show comfortably. He never imagined that he’d turn a lap under 19 seconds.
“Going into qualifying I was going to be happy to run a 19.2,” added Bolden. “I figured if we could run a 19.2 or 19.1 that we’d be comfortable, but then I looked up on the backstretch after the first lap and saw a 19.2 and thought we had a little bit of room to play with. I never dreamed coming down here this weekend that we’d run an 18.9 in qualifying.”
Leading the field to green, Nemechek feels like he has a car underneath him to bring home his first Nashville win and the trophy guitar on Saturday.
“As long as we were in the top-five, I told the guys that we would be good for the race,” said Nemechek. “I feel like we’re pretty consistent and hopefully we can keep it consistent tomorrow. I’m feeling good heading into the race. Hopefully we can bring home that guitar.
Dillion Oliver, the first driver of the night to break the 19-second mark, Brian Campbell and Willie Allen completed the qualifying top-five. Allen’s qualifying run was later disqualified in post-qualifying technical inspection for failing to maintain minimum weight.
For all of the information from a busy practice and qualifying day at Fairground Speedway Nashville, visit Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage by clicking here.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo Credit: Bruce Nuttleman/Speed51.com
All-American 400 Qualifying Results
Fairground Speedway Nashville – October 31, 2014
|1||8n||John Hunter Nemechek||18.912|
|7||55b||Chuck Barnes, Jr.||19.122|
|45||7||John DeAngelis||No Time|
|46||26||Willie Allen||No Time|