Joe Nemechek is an American racing driver and team owner who participated in more than 1100 races in all three NASCAR national series since 1989, and he is the most experienced stock car racing driver who is still active.
Nemechek's biggest achievement is the title of the 1992 Busch Series champion. In the Sprint Cup Series, his best result was 15th place in 2000. During the late 1990s, Joe was nicknamed the Front Row Joe by his teammates and rivals because he was a regular contender for the pole position and front row starting positions.
Driving for his own team from the beginning
Joseph FrankNemechek III was born on September 26th, 1963, in Lakeland, Florida. He began his racing career in motocross at the age of 13 and scored more than 300 race wins during the next six years. He switched to stock cars in 1986, progressing through different series until he debuted in the NASCAR Busch Series in 1989. From the very first race in NASCAR, at North Carolina Speedway, Joe was competing with the car of his own team NEMCO Motorsports. The owners of the team are Joe and his wife Andrea.
Joe named his son after his late brother
The whole Nemechek family is racing-related. Joe's brother John, born in 1970, was also a NASCAR driver. He was killed in a racing accident during the NASCAR Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami in March 1997. A few months after that, Joe's son was born and he was named John Hunter after his late uncle. John Hunter Nemechek is also a racing driver in the NASCAR Truck Series and he scored his first win with NEMCO Motorsports' Chevrolet Silverado in 2015 at the Chicago Speedway.
Rookie of the Year in 1990 Busch Series
Joe's first NASCAR car was the #88 Buick but in 1990, his first full season in the Busch Series, he changed the number to 87. In the 1990 Busch Series season, Joe reached five top 10 finishes to become the Rookie of the Year. In the overall standings, he was 17th. The next year, Joe's progress was outstanding: he scored 16 top 10 results, including second places in two races, to finish 6th in points. In 1991, Buick was replaced by Chevrolet.
Victorious 1992 NASCAR Busch Series season
In 1992, Joe finally scored his maiden NASCAR victory, took the Busch Series title, and was named the Most Popular Driver by the fans. Joe's first win came at the Kroger 200 race at Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont. Later in the season, he won one more time at New Hampshire Speedway in a thrilling finish against Dale Earnhardt. At the end of the season, Joe was just three points better than Bobby Labonte in the Busch Series standings.
Video : Nemechek reminiscent of his 1992 race win over Dale Earnhardt
Winston Cup debut in 1993
Joe's victory in the 1992 Busch Series remained his career-best season. For the next year, he expanded his efforts to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series for the first time, competing in three races with his own car and in two races with Morgan-McClure Motorsports' car. Joe debuted in the Winston Cup driving the #87 Chevrolet at New Hampshire Speedway. He continued to race the title-winning #87 Chevrolet in the 1993 Busch Series and finished fifth in the standings.
In 1994, Joe competed for a part-time schedule in the Busch Series, focusing on the Winston Cup Series with Larry Hendrick Motorsports #41 Chevrolet. His best result in the first full season was third place at Pocono Raceway.
Truck Series debut in 1996
In the following two seasons (1995 and 1996), Nemechek entered the Winston Cup Series with his own #87 Chevrolet. The best result in those two seasons was the fourth place at Dover in 1995. In the Busch Series, Joe was again on a part-time schedule. In 1996, Joe debuted in the Craftsman Truck Series with the #87 Chevrolet, scoring the second place at Watkins Glen.
Maiden Winston Cup win at the New Hampshire Speedway
In 1997, Nemechek competed with three different cars in the Winston Cup Series. For the most of the season, he was driving the #42 Chevrolet for Felix Sabates' Team SABCO. He failed to qualify the #42 car at Daytona 500 and Talladega's Winston 500, so he was driving Barkdoll Racing's #73 Chevrolet at Daytona and Team SABCO's #40 Chevrolet at Talladega. Nemechek finished the 1997 season 28th in points.
Two more seasons with Team SABCO followed in 1998 and 1999. On September 19th, 1999, Nemechek finally clinched his maiden Winston Cup victory at New Hampshire International Speedway. It was the highlight of the year which Nemechek finished 30th in the Cup points.
Sixteen victories in the Busch Series
In the late 1990s, he was still competing on a part-time schedule in the Busch Series, taking five victories in three seasons with #87 NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet. In the new millennium, Nemechek continues to win races in the Busch Series, taking one in 2000, two wins in 2001, one victory in 2002, and three wins in 2003. The last Nemechek's victory in the Busch Series was achieved in September of 2004 at Kansas Speedway, to increase the total number of wins to sixteen.
Dreamy weekend at Kansas Speedway
The weekend at Kansas Speedway was Nemechek's most successful career weekend because he won not just Saturday's Busch Series race with the #87 NEMCO Chevrolet but also Sunday's Nextel Cup race with MB2 Motorsports #01 Chevrolet. It was his fourth and last Cup Series victory. Between his maiden Cup victory in 1999 and the last win in 2004, Joe scored two more wins - at North Carolina Speedway in 2001 and at Richmond International Raceway in 2003.
In 2005 and 2006, Nemechek continued to compete with MB2 Motorsports in the Nextel Cup. He stayed with the team when it was re-branded to Ginn Racing for the second part of the 2006 season and the first part of the 2007 season. The rest of the season, Nemechek was driving the #78 Chevrolet for Furniture Row Racing. He stayed with Furniture Row one more season and then entered the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season with #87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota Camry.
'Start and park' years with NEMCO's Toyota
The #87 Toyota was in competition for four more full seasons of the Sprint Cup, until 2013. Most of those races were 'start and park' participations. At the same time, NEMCO Motorsports competed in the Nationwide Series with better results, scoring 11th place as the best season finish in 2012.
Joe and his son shared the car in the Camping World Truck Series
In the recent years, Nemechek and his team focused mostly on the Camping World Truck Series. In 2014, Joe participated in twelve Truck Series races with the #8 Toyota Tundra and scored nine top 10 results. His son John Hunter Nemechek drove the car in ten races. In 2015, Joe competed in just four Truck Series races with the #8 Chevrolet Silverado and handed the car to his son for rest of the season.
The new winner is in the Nemechek house
On September 19th, 2015, exactly sixteen years after Joe Nemechek had won his first Cup race, his son John Hunter claimed his first Truck Series victory, driving the #8 Chevrolet Silverado at Chicagoland Speedway. The second John Hunter's victory followed in the second round of the 2016 season at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Xfinity races at the end of the career
Nemechek racing dynasty obviously got a new winner, so Joe could now easily pass on the torch and retire. In 2016, Joe Nemechek participated in two Xfinity Series races at Daytona International Speedway, driving the #87 Toyota. Joe's last race was the Subway Firecracker 250 in July 2016.