Nemecheks share father-son bonding in Trucks
June 10, 2014, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
Joe Nemechek attempts to pass on 30 years racing experience to son John Hunter
With Father's Day just around the corner, Joe Nemechek and his son, John Hunter, have made some special father-son memories in their first year driving in the same circuit, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
But besides the family ties that bind, there's also a competitive thread that entwines and motivates the two. That racer's nature shown through as the elder Nemechek revealed in posting a season-best third-place effort last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
"This is a big shot in the arm," Nemechek said. "I can tell my son that I have a third-place finish now and he has a sixth. He's been rubbing that in. It's all good."
The 50-year-old Nemechek qualified sixth and maximized his fuel mileage down the stretch to claim the bottom step on the podium -- his first top-three finish in a NASCAR national series since finishing third in the Nationwide Series in April 2011 at Talladega Superspeedway. For the No. 8 Toyota team co-owned by Nemechek and Sid Mauldin, it marked the second straight top-10 finish after the sixth-place run turned in the previous weekend at Dover by John Hunter Nemechek, who turns 17 Wednesday.
"It's definitely big," the elder Nemechek said. "You look at what our team is -- we have seven guys, eight guys total on our whole team. We're building everything and that's a lot of work to do at the shop. We've built seven trucks so far this year and just trying to get our performance better."
The elder Nemechek easily qualifies as a stock-car racing veteran, but his experience in the Camping World Truck Series is limited to just 11 career starts dating back to the 1990s and the circuit's earliest years. That's still more track time than the younger Nemechek has accumulated with just four Truck Series starts under his belt.
The experience gap in Trucks has made this season a learning experience for both father and son, but the elder Nemechek has done plenty of schooling to help bring the next generation along.
"Have just been able to spend more time with my son and trying to educate him," Nemechek said. "I know how hard it was for me starting and if someone new is coming in who doesn't know this stuff, he's a hell of a race car driver. But I've got 30 years of racing experience that I'm trying to pass on to him about all the tendencies, all these tracks. You still have to have a truck that you can drive -- that's the bottom line. Doesn't matter how good a race car driver you are, if your truck's not right, you're not going to be in the front. So as a team, we're getting better."
Nemechek's third-place run in the Lone Star State helped the mentor one-up the pupil, at least temporarily. He said he'd try to savor the moment, at least until the next time the two compare lap times.
"Probably the toughest thing is don't try to go to the track and outrun him," Joe Nemechek said. "We're very competitive, both of us. If we're there, we're going to go as fast as we can make those trucks go. It's happened on a number of different occasions in a number of different cars, he always seems to get me by just a few thousandths, but he still gets bragging rights. It's fun being competitive like that."