John Hunter Nemechek has a full-time ride in the Xfinity Series for next season.
GMS Racing announced Nemechek as the next driver of its No. 23 Chevrolet Thursday afternoon. The 21-year-old Nemechek will compete for Rookie of the Year honors as he replaces Spencer Gallagher, who announced in October he was going to retire from competition for a managerial role with the organization.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity that Mr. [Maury] Gallagher and the entire GMS Racing organization has presented to me to be able to run full-time in 2019,” Nemechek said. “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.”
Chad Norris, who joined GMS Racing at the start of the 2018 season, will continue to serve as the team’s crew chief.
A sponsorship announcement for Nemechek will be made separately.
Nemechek has 18 career Xfinity Series starts, all of which came last season with Chip Ganassi Racing. In his limited role, Nemechek earned 11 top-10 and six top-five finishes and his first win at Kansas Speedway. He also led 211 laps in those starts and had an average finish of 10.1.
Ganassi announced last month that Ross Chastain would be its full-time driver for 2019, leaving Nemechek looking for a new home.
Nemechek made his NASCAR national series debut in 2013 in the Truck Series, where he ran from 2013-18. Running for his father’s team, NEMCO Motorsports, Nemechek won six races in his 94 starts and finished eighth in points in his two full seasons (2016-17).
“John Hunter is a wheelman,” said Mike Beam, president of GMS Racing. “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.”
In its second full season in the Xfinity Series, GMS Racing had marked success, with five top-5s, 17 top-10 finishes and its first win with Gallagher in May at Talladega. When Gallagher was suspended that same week for a failed drug test, multiple drivers, such as Chase and Bill Elliott, AJ Allmendinger and Alex Bowman, helped complete the season.
The No. 23 finished 11th in the overall owner standings, an improvement from the 24th-place effort in the team’s debut season.