Chris Graythen | Getty Images
Chris Graythen | Getty Images

Kyle Busch Motorsports signs John Hunter Nemechek to full Trucks ride in 2021

Kyle Busch Motorsports announced Monday it has added John Hunter Nemechek to its roster as the driver of its No. 4 Toyota in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for 2021.

Nemechek, 23, makes the move after his rookie NASCAR Cup Series season with Front Row Motorsports. Front Row said Nov. 16 that Nemechek had informed the organization he would not return to its No. 38 Ford next season. Making that call to return to the truck tour, Nemechek said, wasn’t easy.

“It definitely was a tougher decision, for sure, trying to weigh out the pros and cons of each one of them,” Nemechek said. “But when it comes down to it, I’m a competitive guy. I want to show up to the race track every single weekend and have a shot to win. Definitely, I learned a lot and gained a lot of knowledge. … I’m looking forward to kind of coming back, even though it is somewhat taking a step back, but at the same time you have to look at the positives. We’re here to win races.”

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Nemechek takes the place of Raphael Lessard with KBM’s No. 4 team. Lessard’s future with the Kyle Busch-owned organization was not clear, and the team did not mention the Canadian driver in Monday’s news release. Lessard finished 12th in the series standings in his first full year with KBM last season, posting his first career win at Talladega Superspeedway in October.

Nemechek’s first Cup Series season yielded three top-10 finishes, including a best result of eighth place — achieved twice at Talladega. He said he was in discussions with the Bob Jenkins-owned team about a potential return, but “the cards didn’t line up” for a second season.

Nemechek’s latest career move returns him to the NASCAR national series where he has enjoyed the most success. Nemechek has six career victories in Camping World Trucks, where he last competed on a full-time basis in 2017. His last national win came in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in October 2018 during a part-time campaign with Chip Ganassi Racing.

In joining forces with KBM, Nemechek’s ties to Busch have made a full-circle turn. Busch’s first seven starts in the Xfinity Series came carrying the No. 87 long campaigned by Nemechek’s father, Joe.

The younger Nemechek said discussions had been ongoing for “a couple years” to bring the driver and team together. Nemechek cited a strong relationship with both Toyota and Busch, noting he was ready for the sometimes pointed mentoring his team owner has been known for.

“Honestly, if I mess up, I hope Kyle holds me accountable,” Nemechek said. “I hope that Kyle tells me how it is, straight to my face. I like that. I like when somebody tells me that I’ve messed up, so that I go back and fix it. As far as him busting on us or anything like that, I’m not super-afraid of that. I want to learn. I want to be better. If you can learn one thing every single day, you can be better that day and the following.”

Kyle Busch Motorsports indicated a crew chief and a sponsorship lineup would be announced at a later date.