By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
SPARTA, Ky. – After achieving a career milestone, a chance at victory slipped away for John Hunter Nemechek. The NASCAR Xfinity Series driver earned his first stage win in the Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway, passing Kyle Busch in Stage 2 before a battery issue left him settling for a top-10 finish.
Nemechek received the free pass during the final caution of the night, putting his No. 42 Anderson Columbia Co. Inc. Chevrolet Camaro SS back on the lead lap. With 34 laps to go, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver restarted 18th, at the tail-end of the field. Slowly, Nemechek climbed his way back into the top-10 with just over 10 laps to go. However, there was not enough time and the Mooresville, N.C. native had to settle for seventh.
“My guys brought me one fast Anderson Columbia Co. Chevy Camaro here tonight,” Nemechek said. “We were really fast on the long run. Felt good all weekend and the car felt comfortable. We’re doing everything right, just have to have some luck on our side.”
With nine laps to go in the second stage, Nemechek ran down Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Busch for the lead. He made the pass with ease, cruising to his first Xfinity Series stage win of his career.
On the ensuing restarts, Nemechek became a pinball, bouncing off of other cars, even turning Brandon Jones into the inside wall. To add insult to injury, the 21-year-old driver lost power and had to duck onto pit road for a battery change. Nemechek lost a lap in the process and ultimately ended up out of contention for the victory.
“Just lost power,” Nemechek explained. “We had a battery issue. Had to come down pit road and change it, which stinks. But, those were the circumstances we were dealt, and we had to play the cards right and try to make the most of the situation you were put in.”
The seventh-place finish is the fourth top-10 finish in Nemechek’s Xfinity Series career and comes in his 10thcareer start.