We have an answer as to what John Hunter Nemechek’s plan was when he elected to leave his Cup Series ride at Front Row Motorsports. Nemechek will drive the #4-truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series. A move that on the surface seems puzzling but might be a 200 IQ play.
Front Row Motorsports has been in the Cup Series for 15-years now and only amassed 2 wins, 8 top five’s, and 26 top ten’s. They have made improvements over their years but remain a top 25 team for the foreseeable future.
So, if you’re Nemechek and you’re coming off a season where you produced a solid rookie season in mediocre to bad equipment, there are a few options for you. You could ride it out with FRM and hope that the team continues to grow especially in 2022 when the next gen car comes out. Maybe you keep yourself relevant in bad equipment and be ready if a better team calls you. Or you do what he decided and promote yourself by demoting yourself.
The issue with riding it out with FRM is the fact that Bob Osbourne has made little to know effort to improve his teams situation and while we have the next gen car coming in 2022 that’s expected to help some of these smaller teams, Osbourne has not proven that he’ll make the financial effort to improve the team.
The idea that he can stick around in bad equipment until a better opportunity presents itself is a lot more difficult then it sounds. With successful examples like Alex Bowman playing out so recently it can be hard to remember that Bowman’s situation was extremely luck based. He just happened to make a good pal in Dale Jr. that guided him a little bit. Outside of that, there aren’t too many drivers who start out in poor Cup equipment that eventually find their way to better pastures. With most of these bigger teams running their own farm systems of drivers it makes it hard for another driver to break into those teams.
Demoting yourself to the Truck Series is harsh, I think that moving to Xfinity would’ve been an easier pill to swallow but the timing wasn’t there. Every major Xfinity ride was taken and more than likely this KBM truck was the best ride available in NASCAR as whole for him.
John Hunter Nemechek has 6 wins, 28 top five’s, and 50 top ten’s for his father’s truck team, Nemco Motorsports. A team that only has 7 wins, 35 top five’s, and 74 top ten’s as a whole. You do the math there, but Nemco has never been a powerhouse and JHN always made them a threat when he was in the seat.
Stepping into KBM gives him a shot at multiple race wins and a possible championship. This is a soft reboot on his career and at 23-years old I think he can afford to do that. Take a step back and win races, get your confidence up, and wait for your shot. With Toyota starting to add additional Cup teams outside of Joe Gibbs Racing there may be a seat available for JHN sooner rather than later.
I think that this was a risky move, but a smart risk. Nemechek is a solid driver; is he talented enough to be a Cup winner or champion? Maybe, but he hasn’t shown enough to prove that either way. I think he’s talented enough to at least be given a shot at a decent Cup ride and I believe this move is the best – maybe not the fastest – way to that goal.