NASCAR News: John Hunter Nemechek Receives Penalty for Chicago Street Race

John Hunter Nemechek, along with other top-tier drivers, faces a formidable challenge this weekend. Nemechek, who is competing in both the NASCAR Xfinity and Cup Series events, will start at the rear of the field in Saturday’s race due to an engine change in his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota. This decision followed the discovery of an engine issue after the car’s inspection, necessitating the swap to stay in contention.

NBC’s Dustin Long reported via X (formerly known as Twitter) that this change will place Nemechek in a tough spot right from the start. With limited overtaking opportunities on the notoriously tricky Chicago street course, the North Carolina driver’s penalty could be particularly detrimental to his race-day prospects. However, a good strategy may offer some avenues to regain ground.

“John Hunter Nemechek will start at the rear in Saturday’s Xfinity race at Chicago. The No. 20 JGR car passed inspection Friday but the team found a potential problem and changed engines. That will force him to start at the rear Saturday.”

Despite these hurdles, the experience gained in such challenging conditions could prove invaluable, especially with another race on Sunday. The back-of-the-field start not only tests Nemechek’s skill and adaptability but also provides a unique preparation for the main event later in the weekend, especially as this is a track few drivers have experience on.

John Hunter Nemechek
John Hunter Nemechek, driver of the #20 Pye Barker Fire & Safety Toyota, walks onstage during driver intros prior to the NASCAR Xfinity Series Tennessee Lottery 250 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 29, 2024 in…

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

It’s going to be a challenging Chicago Street Race this weekend as NASCAR officials have made several track changes based on feedback from teams during the track walk.

Now in its second year, the Chicago Street Race is expected to draw significant attention, mirroring the success and viewer engagement seen in its inaugural running. The event’s allure is boosted by the involvement of local sports legends Chris Chelios and Matt Forte, who will serve as grand marshals. This collaboration further intertwines NASCAR with Chicago’s rich sporting culture, something that could open the sport up to plenty of new eyes.

Anticipated to run under good weather conditions with no rain yet expected, the race weekend looks promising. Shane van Gisbergen, last year’s victor and a fan favorite, will likely see significant support as he attempts to repeat his win amidst strong competition and fervent fan anticipation.

Nemecheck has a large mountain to climb this Saturday, but will at least have the added experience that could help him in Sunday’s Cup Series race. Eyes will certainly be on the driver, and a brilliant race will very much be on the cards.