By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
Ryan Truex’s maiden national NASCAR win Saturday at Dover Motor Speedway was one of the few popular wins throughout the Xfinity Series garage. Racing for underfunded teams at various points across his 13-year, off-and-on Xfinity career, the journeyman broke through in dominant fashion to score win No. 1 for none other than Joe Gibbs Racing.
One driver high on the “proud list” was JGR teammate John Hunter Nemechek, who understands Truex’s position more than most. Not only is Nemechek sharing a team name in 2023, but he also shares a family connection in motorsports.
On more than one occasion, Nemechek’s father Joe was seen teary-eyed and emotional alongside John Hunter in Victory Lane. And as the scene was repeated Saturday for Martin Truex Sr. and his son, Ryan, it was surely a special moment, with former Cup Series champion, Martin Truex Jr. also there to congratulate.
“A lot of this is a family sport,” Nemechek said. “A lot of sacrifices to get guys here like myself or Ryan into positions where we are. When you go out and win, it means a lot to not only the driver but also the family.”
With Truex scoring the win, JGR has now won four of the 10 races run in 2023. JGR recently saw rookie Sammy Smith grab his first ‘W’ on March 11 at Phoenix Raceway.
“There are two teammates now who have both had their first career win here at Joe Gibbs Racing,” he said. “[Truex] had the best car today by far. It’s good for the No. 19 team to go out and finish it off and get the win for JGR.
“I enjoy being around Ryan. He’s a funny guy, you never know what’s gonna come out of his mouth. I’m sure they will be celebrating pretty big tonight.”
The No. 19 car is a shared ride in 2023, with Truex only making his fifth start of the year on Saturday. With new faces behind the wheel, Nemechek was happy to see the team return to Victory Lane.
“Luckily enough, I was able to run three races with that team last year and it’s a really great group of guys,” he said. “Sadly, I feel like we had one or two taken away from us, but we had strong cars every single week.
“That group hasn’t won in a couple years so definitely great for JGR as an organization and that team. It keeps everyone working hard and that’s all three JGR Xfinity teams in Victory Lane this year.
With Truex leading 124 of 200 laps, Nemechek managed a fifth-place finish, his fifth top-five of the season.
“Just a solid day. Another top five,” he said. “We just have to keep clicking them off and be consistent. We continue to have momentum and confidence on our side.”