By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
NASCAR Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year contender John Hunter Nemechek will be in a back-up car for the Pocono Green 250. As a result, he will start from the rear of Saturday’s race.
Five laps into the first practice at Pocono Raceway, Nemechek’s red and white No. 23 ISM Connect Chevrolet Camaro SS broke loose in turn two. The GMS Racing driver made hard contact with wall, forcing the team to a back-up car.
Nemechek was 16th fastest on the speed charts in the first session, despite the incident. Only 31 drivers took time in the session.
Prior to the wreck, Nemechek explained the challenge the ‘Tricky Triangle’ presents.
“Pocono is a really fun track because it’s like no other track on the NASCAR circuit. It’s a challenge for not only the drivers but for the crew chiefs and teams as well. All three turns are different, so it makes the setup difficult to nail in all three corners.
“We showed some speed last weekend at Charlotte and I know that this 23 team have been working really hard to prepare this car. Hopefully we can get back up to the front and compete for a win in our ISM Connect Chevy.”
When the second practice went green, Nemechek was on track in a black and red No. 23 wrapped with one of his other sponsors, Fire Alarm Services. He was 14th fastest in the back-up car. 34 drivers took part in the second practice session.
Entering Pocono, Nemechek has two top-five and eight top-10 finishes this season.
The 21-year-old has one previous start in the Xfinity Series at Pocono. Nemechek started eighth and finished seventh. He also has three starts at the 2.5-mile track in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series with a best finish of fourth.
The Mooresville, N.C. native is seventh in the championship standings, 162-points behind points leader Tyler Reddick. Nemechek is also 39-points ahead of the cutoff for the playoffs, held by Brandon Jones.
In the Rookie of the Year standings, Nemechek is 11-points behind Chase Briscoe.