Daniel Hemric, John Hunter Nemechek make NASCAR debuts to mixed results

Streeter Lecka

Two Super Late Model standouts made their NASCAR Truck Series debuts on Saturday in Martinsville.

A pair of Southern Super Series championship leaders made their NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debuts on Saturday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway.

Both Daniel Hemric and John Hunter Nemechek are second and third in the inaugural championship standings and finished 32nd and 16th respectively.

Hemric's weekend began with a lot of promise, qualifying 16th for Sharp Gallaher Racing while also continually posting some of the fastest lap times during practice on Friday. But his first shot at NASCAR came to a premature end after three laps when his transmission failed, sending him to pit road for repairs.

He would later return but finished 46 laps off the pace.

Nemechek enjoyed a positive result but faced an uphill climb in order to achieve it. He quickly fell one lap down on lap 60 but followed the leader at the time - Denny Hamlin -- around the track and began turning quicker lap times as a result.

Nemechek earned the free pass with 20 laps to go and rallied back to 16th by the end of the race.

Entering the race, Nemechek says he had two goals -- complete all the laps and score a top-15 finish. He achieved the first and came within a position of the other. The son of veteran Sprint Cup driver Joe Nemechek called his debut a success.

"We definitely had a good car," Nemechek said. "We went down a lap early and struggled to get it back. We would get in the lucky dog spot and somebody would spin in front of us and we would have to check up and give the spot to someone else."

"But once we got the lucky dog, we knew we would be better than a lot of guys in front of us -- and that's what happened."

For Nemechek, the turnaround began when he was following Hamlin earlier in the race.

"When I got behind him, I learned his marks and what to do in traffic," Nemechek said. "It taught me a lot and it will definitely transfer to the next time we come here."

Nemechek hopes to compete in the Truck Series race at Phoenix International Raceway in two weeks but has to receive approval from the sanctioning body first. As it stands, next up for Nemechek is the All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville where the 16-year-old hopes to score his first victory in the Southern Super Series.

Nemechek is all but eliminated from championship contention (he would need Bubba Pollard and Hemric to fail post-race technical inspection), leaving him focused on picking up a victory in one of the more prestigious races in the country.

"We don't have to worry about anything and running these trucks will help us in the Super Late Model too," Nemechek concluded.

The All-American 400 will take place this Saturday, November 2 and will feature both Hemric and Nemechek. Ross Kenseth is the defending race winner while Bubba Pollard is the current championship leader by 48 over Hemric.

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