Assuming no last-minute changes, Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway will be the first Monster Energy Cup Series start for Joe Nemechek in four years. On Tuesday, NASCAR’s entry list for the race was updated to feature the longtime veteran in the #27 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 of Premium Motorsports.
In March 2015, Nemechek ran the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the #34 for Front Row Motorsports, where he finished thirty-third in his latest Cup start. The ride had opened up when regular driver David Ragan moved to Joe Gibbs Racing to replace an injured Kyle Busch. His last start at Darlington came in 2014 with Premium’s predecessor Identity Ventures Racing, where he finished thirty-fourth.
The 1992 Busch Series (now Xfinity Series) champion, Nemechek began competing in the Cup Series in 1993 for self-owned NEMCO Motorsports, before going on to race for teams such as Team SABCO, Hendrick Motorsports, MB2 Motorsports, and Furniture Row Racing. In 667 career Cup starts, he scored four victories, eighteen top-five finishes, and sixty-two top tens. Nicknamed “Front Row Joe” for his qualifying success, he also has ten poles in the premier series. In twenty-eight career Cup races at Darlington, his best finish is sixth in 1999.
Nemechek currently races in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series as an owner/driver for NEMCO. Operating on a start-and-park basis, the Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan International Speedway is the lone race of 2019 that he has finished, doing so in twentieth. His son John Hunter Nemechek competes full-time in the Xfinity Series, which Joe has sporadically appeared in with MBM Motorsports and Mike Harmon Racing; in three Xfinity starts in 2019, his best run is thirty-second at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
During the 2019 Cup season, Premium’s #27 has been split between Reed Sorenson, Ross Chastain, and Quin Houff. Starting fourteen races, the number’s best run is eighteenth with Chastain at Talladega Superspeedway. Xfinity regular Ryan Sieg will drive the #27 in the Cup Series’ regular season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.