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September 6, 2023

John Hunter Nemechek to drive Legacy Motor Club No. 42 in 2024

Legacy Motor Club announced Wednesday that John Hunter Nemechek will drive for its No. 42 team next season, bringing the 26-year-old driver back to the NASCAR Cup Series.

Nemechek is currently in his first full season with Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series, where he ranks second in the standings with one race left before the playoffs begin. The move, announced Wednesday on FOX Sports’ Race Hub news program, makes Legacy MC his third team in the last four years.

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“To be able to announce my plans for next season so early and officially say I will be competing full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series relieves a lot of pressure,” Nemechek said in a statement. “There is so much to be done for next year, and this gives us the opportunity to get the news out there and move forward. Also, driving for Maury (Gallagher), Jimmie (Johnson) and Richard Petty is a dream come true for me.”

Co-owner Johnson and John Hunter’s father, Joe, were teammates at Hendrick Motorsports in 2002 and 2003, as the elder Nemechek drove the No. 25 entry in the Cup Series. John Hunter was just five years old at that time.

“We’re excited to have John Hunter in the Legacy Motor Club family and I can’t wait to see what he can do in the No. 42 next season,” Johnson said in a statement. “He is impressive both on and off the track and will be a great ambassador for Legacy M.C. and our partners. He will be a solid teammate to Erik (Jones) and I can’t wait to watch them both compete for wins and championships for years to come.”

Nemechek’s lone full season in the Cup Series was 2020 when he joined Front Row Motorsports’ No. 38 team. Since then, he has been in the Toyota development pipeline, driving two seasons with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Craftsman Truck Series before jumping to the Xfinity Series and JGR. The last three years have been among Nemechek’s most prolific, with 13 of his 20 national-series victories arriving during that stretch.

Nemechek will remain in the Toyota camp with the shift. Legacy Motor Club announced in May that it would switch its manufacturer partnership from Chevrolet to Toyota for 2024.

The personnel move is intended to bring stability to the No. 42 team, which began the year with rookie Noah Gragson behind the wheel. Gragson was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR on Aug. 5 for a member conduct violation, and Legacy Motor Club granted his release from the team five days later.

Since Gragson’s suspension, three drivers have taken his place in the No. 42 Chevy — Josh Berry and Mike Rockenfeller for two races each, and Truck Series regular Carson Hocevar in the series’ most recent event at Darlington Raceway. Hocevar, 20, is also scheduled to drive the No. 42 in the Cup Series’ next two races, at Kansas Speedway this Sunday and at Bristol Motor Speedway the next weekend.

The organization is in its first season under the Legacy Motor Club banner. The former Petty GMS Motorsports team transformed in the offseason with the addition of seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson to its ownership group.