Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

2020 Cup Series Season Preview: John Hunter Nemechek

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

Editor’s note: Motorsports Tribune will be previewing the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season for the full-time drivers in the series leading into February’s running of the Daytona 500.

Age: 22

Years in Cup: Rookie

Career Wins: One Xfinity Series win, Six Truck Series wins

Since 2013, John Hunter Nemechek has been a constant presence in the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series, piloting his family’s No. 8 entry to six wins before catching the eye of owners in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he began driving part-time in 2018.

Nemechek scored his lone Xfinity Series win driving for Chip Ganassi Racing that season before earning a full-time slot with GMS Racing in 2019. Over the course of the 33 race schedule, Nemechek claimed six top-five finishes and 19 top-10 finishes to end the season ranked seventh in the final standings.

Though GMS Racing ended its Xfinity Series program at the end of last season, Nemechek’s performance landed him in a relief driver role with Front Row Motorsports at the end of last season, driving their No. 36 Ford in the Cup Series while Matt Tifft was out of the car recovering from his medical issues.

In the final three races of the season, Nemechek finished 21st, 27th, and 23rd at Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead respectively.

With Tifft eventually parting ways with Front Row to focus on his health and driver of the No. 38 car for the team, David Ragan, retiring from full-time competition at the end of 2019, the team was left with a decision to make on who would fill those roles for the 2020 season.

Ultimately, the team elected to shrink to a two car operation, fielding the No. 34 and No. 38 entries in 2020, and giving Nemechek the nod to drive the No. 38 car in a full-time capacity. The Mooresville, North Carolina native will have crew chief Seth Barbour atop the pit box and will be joined by veteran Michael McDowell in the team’s other Ford Mustang.

“I’m thrilled for the opportunity to drive for Bob Jenkins and Front Row Motorsports,” said Nemechek. “Having driven the last three races with this team in 2019, I feel like we already have a foundation to start the 2020 season. I’m looking forward to continuing to build FRM.”

Front Row Motorsports owner Bob Jenkins echoed Nemechek’s excitement for the season to come, noting the potential that the 22-year old has shown in his climb up the ladder.

“We are looking to the future with a young talent like John Hunter Nemechek,” said Jenkins. “John Hunter impressed us at the end of last season, he comes from a racing family, and he’s a winning driver. We believe that we can grow with him in the years to come.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.