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Nemechek On The Move

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, December 9 2018
John Hunter Nemechek is headed to a new team in 2019. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

By John Sturbin/Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

John Hunter Nemechek has joined GMS Racing and team-owner Maurice J. Gallagher Jr. for the full 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) season in a bid for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.

Nemechek, of Mooresville, N.C., ran his first season of Xfinity Series competition in 2018 with Chip-Ganassi Racing. The 21-year-old son of NASCAR veteran Joe Nemechek, John Hunter collected one win (Kansas Speedway), six top-five finishes, 11 top-10 results and one pole (ISM Raceway), with an average starting position of 8.5. He compiled an average finishing position of 10.1 across 18 starts, with 211 laps- led.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Gallagher and the entire GMS Racing organization has presented to me to be able to run fulltime in 2019,” said Nemechek, who will drive the No. 23 Chevrolet Camaro. “The results that GMS Racing showed last year in their NASCAR Xfinity Series program were impressive. Their goal is to create a championship-caliber team, like their Truck Series program, and I believe that we can achieve that goal in the 2019 season.”

Nemechek has capitalized on his six NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (formerly Camping World) seasons, collecting six victories, 28 top-five finishes and 48 top-10s. He earned his first pole award in 2016 and added a second P1 in 2018. In addition to his successful Truck Series campaigns, Nemechek was named to the 2015-16 NASCAR Next class and was selected as the Truck Series’ Most Popular Driver in 2015.

Nemechek will be paired with veteran crew chief Chad Norris, who joined GMS Racing at the beginning of the 2018 season. Norris led the No. 23 Camaro team to a record year after collecting the Statesville, N.C.,-based organization’s first Xfinity Series win at the Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway with Spencer Gallagher, as well as producing six top-five and 17 top-10 finishes.

“John Hunter is a wheelman,” said Mike Beam, president of GMS Racing. “We are excited to have him on-board for the 2019 season. With how much progress we showed last year in our NASCAR Xfinity Series program, I know that John Hunter will take us to the next level.”

Founded in 2014, GMS Racing competes fulltime in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series with 2016 champion Johnny Sauter and Sheldon Creed. The team also has expanded into the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, as well as the ARCA Racing Series with Sam Mayer. The organization occupies several buildings in Statesville on a campus including operations for GMS Fabrication.

Front Row Motorsports has signed Matt Tifft to drive a third Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series entry in 2019, the No. 36 Ford Mustang. Veteran drivers Michael McDowell and David Ragan will return to wheel the Nos. 34 and 38 Mustangs, respectively, for team-owner Bob Jenkins and mentor the 22-year-old Tifft during his rookie Cup campaign.

Tifft finished sixth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in 2018, earning six top-five and 19 top-10 finishes with Richard Childress Racing and advancing into the Round of 8 Playoffs. In four Xfinity Series seasons, Tifft has compiled nine top-five and 38 top-10 finishes and two poles.

“Announcing my move to the Cup series, this has been a dream of mine since I was a kid and I can’t believe it’s finally coming true,” Tifft said. “I’m so thankful to Front Row Motorsports for giving me the opportunity to drive the No. 36 next season. I’m looking forward to guidance from veterans Michael McDowell and David Ragan and am ready to take on the challenge of driving with 39 of the best drivers in the world.”

McDowell will return to the No. 34 Ford after completing his first full season with Front Row Motorsports. The 11-year Cup Series veteran earned one top-10, two top-15 and 10 top-20 finishes in 2018 and an average starting position of 23rd _ the best qualifying average in Front Row team history.

The 2018 season also was the first for McDowell and Ragan as teammates. “This past season has been a big stepping-stone for me in my career,” McDowell said. “We haven’t gotten the results we’ve wanted every week, but we’ve made huge advances as a team. I’ve really benefitted from having a teammate this year and feel like I’ve made valuable contributions in return. I’m looking forward to building on that next year and welcoming another teammate in Matt Tifft.”

The 2019 campaign will be Ragan’s sixth with Jenkins’ team. The 12-year Cup Series veteran earned one top-10, four top-15s and 14 top-20 finishes in 2018. Ragan made Front Row Motorsports history in 2013 when he gave the team its first victory with a last-lap dash to the finish line at Talladega Superspeedway. 

“Bob Jenkins has always grown his race team strategically, and I’m proud to be a part of that growth,” Ragan said. “It’s exciting that we’re now ready to take the next step with a third car in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. We’ve made a lot of gains this season with our enhanced program with Ford Performance and our alliance with Roush Fenway Racing, and I think we can make even greater strides next year.”

Front Row Motorsports has competed fulltime in NASCAR’s premier series since 2009 from its headquarters in Statesville, N.C. “We’ve made it clear in recent years that it was our intent to continue to invest in NASCAR and expand to a three-car team,” Jenkins said. “Not only are we here to stay, we’re here to grow.

“We already have two proven veterans in our lineup, and now we’ll get to add an impressive young talent and championship contender who will inject some new energy into the group. With the introduction of the Ford Mustang into the Cup Series, 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting season for us.”

Sponsor partnerships and crew chief pairings will be announced at later dates. 

Front Row Motorsports was founded in 2004 and is owned by Tennessean Jenkins. The team’s partnership base includes Ford Motor Company, Love’s Travel Stops, K-LOVE Radio, 1000Bulbs.com and Shriners Hospitals for Children.

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Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks Series has been added to the 2019 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 NASCAR tripleheader spring weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

The Stadium Super Trucks Series will feature its high-flying show during three points-paying races over the March 28-31 weekend headlined by the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series.

The first SST race is scheduled for Saturday, March 30, following conclusion of the My Bariatric Solutions 300 Xfinity Series race. Stadium Super Trucks will follow with a doubleheader on Sunday, March 31, with a race prior to the marquee O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Cup Series event and another 30 minutes following the checkered flag for that race.

Stadium Super Trucks will return to “The Great American Speedway” for a third consecutive year, but first time during an all-NASCAR weekend. The previous two visits have been paired with the speedway’s annual June nighttime race weekend featuring the IndyCar Series and NASCAR Truck Series.

“To be back racing at Texas for our third straight year is wonderful and I would really like to thank the entire team at Texas Motor Speedway for the ongoing belief in Stadium Super Trucks as a series,” said Gordon, a former NASCAR Cup regular and the series founder/owner. “The past two years we have been at the track with INDYCAR and now to have the organizers believe that we can add real value to the NASCAR weekend _ I’m extremely excited about it.

“Most of all, I’m extremely confident that NASCAR fans will love what we bring to motorsport. Who knows? We might even bring some of my old fans from Texas back to the track that I haven’t seen since my Cup days.”

Stadium Super Trucks use a short portion of the front stretch of TMS’ 1.5-mile oval, with the majority of racing taking place in the South infield paddock and along pit road. The course features multiple jumps, including a massive, signature dirt hurdle in the paddock that is the layout’s centerpiece.

Stadium Super Trucks regulars include reigning series champion Matt Brabham, Paul Morris, Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Gavin Harlien.

In addition to the MENCS O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 and NXS My Bariatric Solutions 300, the weekend also will include the Vankor 350 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race on Friday, March 28. For more information on the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 weekend, please visit www.texasmotorspeedway.com.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, December 9 2018
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