Track: Talladega Superspeedway, 2.66 Mile Oval
Race: 13 of 38
Event: Geico 500 (500 miles, 188 laps)
John Hunter Nemechek
No. 38 Death Wish Coffee Ford Mustang
Stage One: 16th
Stage Two: 14th
Stage Three: 8th
John Hunter Nemechek started Monday’s rain-delayed race at Talladega Superspeedway in the 22nd position following a random draw to determine the starting lineup. The handling on his No. 38 Death Wish Coffee Ford Mustang was “kind of all over the place” in the early parts of the race and the team made a wedge adjustment and added grille tape during the Competition Caution to try to give him more stability. Towards the end of Stage 1, Nemechek reported that he was a bit tight, particularly off of Turn 2, where the wind had picked up. Shortly after reporting that, the skies opened up and the race was paused for nearly an hour under Red Flag conditions. Once the cars refired, Nemechek finished Stage 1 in 16th place.
As Stage 2 got underway, Nemechek noted that his No. 38 Death Wish Coffee Ford Mustang was “tight running the bottom in traffic.” On Lap 94, he had a tire going down, which caused him to spin on the frontstretch, bringing out a caution. Nemechek would pit several times for the crew to change tires and assess (minimal) damage. Once the race restarted, Nemechek managed to battle his way into the top 10 at times, reporting that he was still “a little snug, but not bad.” He would go on to finish Stage 2 in the 14th position.
With rain no longer a factor, John Hunter Nemechek settled in for the Final Stage. By Lap 134, Nemechek did not have any issues to note with his No. 38 Death Wish Coffee machine. He radioed that the car was pretty good and that he was “just trying not to be in the middle of the mess” with about 50 laps to go in the race. It was going to be a close call on fuel, but with a caution on Lap 185, Nemechek was able to pit to top up on fuel. In a thrilling final lap, Nemechek made contact with another car just before the start-finish line, but still took the checkered flag in the 8th position, his career-best finish thus far. He also finished highest among the Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year candidates, earning him the “Rookie of the Race” award.
Nemechek on Talladega:
“We had a really great run in our No. 38 Death Wish Coffee Ford Mustang today. I really thought we had a shot at it at the end there, but I’m still proud of our entire team’s efforts. When we fired off, we were kind of tight, and then we had that tire go down in the second stage, but we managed to come back from it and battled into the top 10 by the end. I wish we would have won that thing, but a P8 finish at Talladega is still good for us and I want to thank everyone on the team for their support. I’m looking forward to giving Death Wish Coffee another chance at the checkered flag at Pocono.”