John Hunter Nemechek wins at New Hampshire for 2nd straight Xfinity trip to victory lane

Updated Jul. 15, 2023 6:36 p.m. ET

LOUDON. N.H. (AP) — John Hunter Nemechek had one thought inside the dominant car of the day as the NASCAR race at New Hampshire was set to resume after a few extra laps and one final caution.

“Don't mess up,” he said.

No need to worry.

Nemechek survived a wreck-marred NASCAR race Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and won for the fourth time this season in the Xfinity Series.


“I expect to win with the best car,” he said. “It's not exciting. But it's exciting for me.”

The 26-year-old Nemechek followed last week’s win at Atlanta with another dominant performance for Joe Gibbs Racing. Nemechek pulled away off the final caution, the perfect spot to avoid one more final wipeout behind him. Nemechek rolled in the No. 20 Toyota to the finish line under caution — the 10th of race — that ended the race under the white flag.

“This is one of the first weekends where we had no issues, no mistakes," Nemechek said.

It’s a familiar path to victory lane for Nemechek, who became the first Xfinity driver to win consecutive races this season. He took the lead off the final restart in Atlanta and drove away from the pack to earn his third victory of the season.

The race was slowed by wild wrecks after restarts and a slew of damaged cars limped to the garage. Cole Custer and Sheldon Creed wrecked to bring out the final caution. That was enough to help Chandler Smith, who started from the pole, to finish in second place. He was followed by Austin Hill, Daniel Hemric and Sammy Smith.

“I felt like that was the best race car I had,” Hemric said.

Smith slumped against his car on pit road in exhaustion after his runner-up finish, in large part because of a malfunction that pumped hot water throughout his cool suit.

Nemechek, the son of former NASCAR second-tier series champion Joe Nemechek, led 137 of 206 laps — six more than scheduled — and gave Joe Gibbs Racing its 196th career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory. JGR now has 598 NASCAR wins across the three national series.

“Had, I think, our first clean race this year,” Nemechek said. “I'm a lucky guy that gets to sit behind the wheel of this 20 car every weekend.”

Nemechek leads the point standings by 33 points over Hill. He's having fun again after a winless stint over parts of three Cup seasons — 2020 was his only full season — and the drop down to NASCAR's developmental level has paid off. He enjoyed his sixth victory in 85 career Xfinity Series races.

“Winning just keeps getting better and better every time you do it," he said.

JGR could get a No. 20 weekend sweep on Sunday. Christopher Bell, who won last year's race at New Hampshire, starts Sunday in the No. 20 Toyota on the pole for the Cup race.


AP auto racing: and