John Hunter Nemechek has "heck of a debut" in Cup Series
It wasn’t the NASCAR Cup Series debut John Hunter Nemechek had planned but it went as well as could be expected.
When Matt Tifft’s seizure at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last weekend left him sidelined for the remainder of the 2019 season, Front Row Motorsports tapped Nemechek to drive Tifft’s No. 36 Ford for the final three races.
Nemechek, 22, has plenty of experience in the Xfinity and Truck series but had yet to make a Cup Series start until Sunday’s AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
He qualified 29th on Saturday and ran in the top-25 much of the race on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway before ending up 21st, the last car one lap down.
Nemechek did have the best finish among the three FRM drivers in the race.
“We had a pretty good car. We finished in front of all of our teammates. It was a heck of a debut; I was able to lean on David (Ragan) and Michael (McDowell) for a lot of information this weekend,” Nemechek said after the race.
“We kept adjusting on it every stop just seeing what the car would do. I learned a lot as a driver today. Hopefully we can take this momentum on into the future and just better myself.”
Tifft arrived at the track on Sunday morning to lend support to his team during Sunday’s race. In a pre-race interview, Tifft said he would like to return to racing but is still getting tests in order to determine why he had a seizure last weekend.
“My goal right now is to find what caused it. I want to be back in a race car but I don’t care about anything else right now other than finding out what caused this,” he said. “Until then, nothing else matters.
“I have been through this stuff before and I know enough to be mature and smart enough to know that my health comes first.”
Nemechek said he didn’t see Tifft on Sunday but wished him “a speedy recovery.”
“Hopefully he comes to the next two (races), I know it’s hard watching someone fill your seat. I’ve been in that spot before,” Nemechek said. “It’s his seat and I’m just here to fill-in for him in these last three races.”
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