NASHVILLE — John Hunter Nemechek came to the Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN) back in April and finished first in the Southern Super Series event. But he failed post race inspection and had the win taken away. He came into this weekend focused on redeeming himself.
The 17-year-old did that with an exclamation mark on Saturday as he lead 294 of the 300 laps to win his first guitar trophy in the 30th Annual All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN).
Nemechek held off a late charge from Willie Allen to get what he calls his biggest win his career.
“It was an awesome weekend for us. We came back here for some redemption,”Nemechek said in victory lane. “We lost one here in the spring due to tech after the race. It was a stupid mistake on our part. We thought we had something and it ended up being the wrong thing.
“Right after that race, we circled this race and said we are going to try our best to win it. My guys gave me an awesome car all weekend. It’s unbelievable to lead 294 of the 300 laps in the All-American 400. It is a difficult task to do, but we had a dominating car. Hopefully, we can carry on this momentum to Phoenix next week in the Truck and then to the Derby.”
Nemechek also won the pole on Friday and used his prime starting spot to get out to an early lead. He would only lose the lead on two occasions when Brian Campbell and Anderson Bowen would get by him on different restarts. But Nemechek would only give them a couple of laps out front before he made his charge back to the top spot.
Willie Allen had to race all 400 laps on Saturday, 300 in the main event and 100 in the last chance race, to finish second. In Friday’s qualifying session, Allen’s time was disallowed after he failed post-qualifying tech. He was forced to start at the rear of the field in the last chance race. Allen would win the last chance race to earn a starting spot for the race.
Allen was challenging Nemechek for the lead until the caution flew with 18 laps to go when Brandon Johnson and John Bolen got together to cause a spin in turn four. On the restart, Nemechek pulled away from Allen to win by 0.868 seconds.
“We passed just about every car here at the racetrack except for one,”Allen said after the race. “Man, we were so close. I can’t thank the guys enough. We were one adjustment away. This is a different car than what we normally run here and we kept adjusting on it all day. Man, I thought we had a shot at it until that last caution came out and after that it went really tight.”
Chuck Barnes Jr. finished third with Anderson Bowen in fourth. T.J. Reaid round out the top-five.
The race was slowed 13 times, 11 for cautions on the race track and two competition yellows. There was one big wreck on lap 120 with 10 cars involved on the front stretch. Six cars were eliminated as a result of that caution.
For Nemechek, a win in the All-American 400 completes one of his dreams that he had growing up.
“It means a lot to win the All-American 400. This is something I have wanted to do since I was a kid watching Late Model racing, coming up through the ranks,”Nemechek said. “We got the All-American and hopefully we can get the Derby this year and make two for two on big wins this year. This is the biggest win of my career in a Late Model. Hopefully, we can keep on going and win some more.”
For winning the race on Saturday, Nemechek will receive one of the most coveted trophies in motorsports, a Nashville guitar. What does the 17-year-old plan to do with the guitar?
“I used to play trumpet when I was in band when I was in fifth grade and that is about it. But, I will need to start taking guitar lessons.”
For a full replay of all of the All-American 400 action, check out the Speed51.com Trackside Now replay by clicking here.
-By Kevin Ramsell, Director of Business/Midwest Editor – Twitter: @KevinRamsell
-Photo Credit: Bruce Nuttleman/Speed51.com
All-American 400 Official Results
November 1, 2014 – Fairgrounds Nashville Speedway
|1||8n||John Hunter Nemechek|
|3||55b||Chuck Barnes, Jr.|