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April 2, 2022

Nemechek on last-lap contact with Gibbs at Richmond: ‘Racers never forget’

RICHMOND, Va. — While Ty Gibbs celebrated his third win of the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series on the frontstretch at Richmond Raceway, his teammate, John Hunter Nemechek, was left fuming on pit road.

Nemechek, competing in select Xfinity races for Joe Gibbs Racing, reeled in Gibbs during the closing circuits of Saturday’s ToyotaCare 250 at the 0.75-mile Virginia short track, taking the lead with five laps remaining. But Gibbs fought back, laying the bumper to Nemechek once the white flag flew.

Gibbs put pressure on Nemechek until he made his move entering Turns 3 and 4, diving low and making contact with the left side of Nemechek’s No. 18 Toyota, sending him up the race track.

Nemechek was able to hold onto the second-place position, while also holding onto strong emotions toward Gibbs after the race.

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“He was able to get a run beating my back bumper off, got inside of me,” Nemechek said. “Thought we would be able to run side-by-side there, him running low and me running high in (Turns) 3 and 4. It didn’t play out that way. He just didn’t even try to make the corner. It is what it is.”

During his post-race interview, Gibbs said he “deserved one back” from Nemechek.

“We’re racing for wins and they’re hard to come by,” Gibbs said. “I had to take it. … Just got in there deep and had to bump him out of the way going up the track. We’re short-track racing.”

Gibbs’ expectation of getting one back from Nemechek didn’t hold much clout.

“It doesn’t mean anything,” Nemechek said. “We didn’t take home the hardware today.

“I guess I should know that when the last lap is out, teammate rules are off or whatever,” he added. “But, I thought it would have been awesome to be able to duel it out side-by-side coming to the checkered flag. Whether it was him or me winning, rubbing doors to the start-finish line is awesome, but don’t just completely miss a corner.”

The battle between the two teammates was close all day. Nemechek led a race-high 135 laps, while Gibbs held the point for 114 of the 250. For Nemechek, competing for a championship in his full-time NASCAR Camping Truck Series effort with Toyota-backed Kyle Busch Motorsports, a runner-up result doesn’t do him much good.

“I’m not going to sit here and say it’s fair or not fair,” Nemechek said. “Just racers never forget, that’s all.”