NASCAR Knoxville Notebook: John Hunter Nemechek Looks To Dirt Track Ally For Help

Jessica Friesen drives during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Clean Harbors 150 Practice at Knoxville Raceway on Friday (Photo: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

June 18, 2022 

By Reid Spencer 

NASCAR Wire Service 

John Hunter Nemechek looks to dirt-track ally for help at Knoxville 

KNOXVILLE, Iowa—NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title contender John Hunter Nemechek thinks the “Buddy System” at Kyle Busch Motorsports might help him win his first dirt-track race in the series on Saturday. 

Specifically, with reigning USAC National Midget champion Buddy Kofoid in the No. 51 KBM Toyota for the Clean Harbors 150, Nemechek will have a sounding board for track conditions in the 13th race of the regular season. 

“I think having ‘Buddy the Dirt Driver’ with us this weekend is definitely going to be good to just have a different perspective,” said Nemechek, who drives the No. 4 KBM Tundra.  

“Having Brian Brown there last year, he doesn’t have a lot of stock car experience, kind of like Buddy, but you can pick their brain about the dirt, how the track is going to change, and what the track is going to do in terms of rubbering up or staying wet and tacky.”  

In last year’s race, most of the speed was at the bottom of the track, especially in the final stage. To get a feel for current track conditions, Nemechek watched the World of Outlaws sprint car races at Knoxville on June 10 and 11. 

“Hopefully, we do a little bit better with the track prep this year and can run multiple lanes,” Nemechek said. “I know the World of Outlaws ran there this past weekend and they put on a good show being able to run the bottom all the way up to the fence.  

“So, we’ll see what happens. Looking forward to getting back dirt racing and chasing another victory.” 

Injury hasn’t slowed Carson Hocevar one iota 

Shades of Brad Keselowski. 

Remember when the current co-owner/driver at Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing suffered a broken left ankle in a crash during testing at Road Atlanta in 2011? 

A week later, after hobbling to his car on crutches, Keselowski won the NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono. In the four races immediately after his injury, he posted two victories, a second and a third. 

Carson Hocevar seems poised to accomplish the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ version of Keselowski’s remarkable run. 

After breaking his right tibia in a crash at World Wide Technology Raceway on June 4, the driver of the No. 42 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet underwent surgery. On the following Friday, he put his Silverado on the pole for Saturday’s race at Sonoma. 

Hocevar crashed at the end of his pole-winning lap, started from the rear after repairs and gave way to relief driver Daniel Suarez, who brought the truck home in sixth. 

On Friday at Knoxville Raceway, Hocevar topped the speed chart in final practice after posting the third-fastest lap in the opening session. 

Hocevar is driving the same truck he powered to a second-place finish on the Bristol Dirt Track in April. 

“It seems like every time our No. 42 team goes to a dirt track, we have success or moments of success,” Hocevar said. “We won our heat race last year at Knoxville and led a lot of laps, and at Bristol Dirt back in April we led the second-most laps in a second-place effort… 

“Hopefully, it performs one spot better this weekend.”   

The time has finally come for dirt late model star Tyler Carpenter 

Tyler Carpenter collected the first-place check for his victory in the Super Late Model Division at the Gateway Dirt Nationals in St. Louis in December, but he had to wait more than six months for the second—and more highly anticipated—part of his prize. 

With the win, Carpenter also earned a ride in Niece Motorsports’ No. 41 Chevrolet for Saturday night’s Clean Harbors 150 at Knoxville Raceway. 

“I’m more excited than you can imagine about racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this weekend,” said the 31-year-old from Parkersburg, West Virginia. “It’s something that you dream about being a part of when you’re younger—or any event that’s NASCAR-associated.  

“I’m stoked to get behind the wheel of a Niece Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado this weekend. It’s been a long time coming since earning this opportunity back in December.” 

Carpenter was 17th fastest in Friday’s opening practice for his series debut and 30th in Happy Hour, but he was 12th fastest in 10-lap average in the final session among the 24 drivers who ran 10 consecutive laps. 

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