John Hunter Nemechek will join GMS Racing full time in the Xfinity Series in 2019, replacing Spencer Gallagher in the No. 23 car. Gallagher announced his retirement from racing in October last year and will move to a managerial role within his father’s company.
Nemechek got his feet wet in the Xfinity Series last year. He started 18 races for Ganassi in the No. 42, posting his first career win at Kansas.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Gallagher and the entire GMS Racing organization has presented to me to be able to run full time in 2019,” Nemechek said in a release from the team. “The results that GMS Racing showed last year in their NASCAR Xfinity Series program were impressive. Their goal is to create a championship-caliber team, like their Truck Series program, and I believe that we can achieve that goal in the 2019 season.”
“John Hunter is a wheelman,” said Mike Beam. “We are excited to have him on board for the 2019 season. With how much progress we showed last year in our NASCAR Xfinity Series program, I know that John Hunter will take us to the next level.”
GMS had several drivers behind the wheel of their No. 23 entry last season, most notably Chase Elliott. Elliott was able to run consistently inside of the top five in his attempts. GMS picked up one win last year with Gallagher at Talladega. They fielded a second car for Justin Haley a few times as well. Haley announced last week that he will join Kaulig Racing in 2019.
Nemechek was expected to be in play with Ganassi for 2019, but that situation got cloudy with the instant success of Ross Chastain, who won at Las Vegas. Chastain could have easily won at Darlington as well, but was caught up in a late race crash with Kevin Harvick.
Ganassi opted to roll with Chastain full time in 2019 and it’s pretty hard to blame them for doing so. Chastain was instantly a top contender when he stepped into that ride. Unfortunately for Nemechek, he was the odd man out. Luckily, GMS happened to have an opening.
In addition to one Xfinity win, Nemechek has six career Truck Series wins. He registered six top fives and eleven top ten finishes over 18 starts in the Xfinity Series last season.