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John Hunter Nemechek to return to Cup Series next season in No. 42 for Legacy Motor Club

John Hunter Nemechek will return to NASCAR's top Cup Series next season when he joins Legacy Motor Club, which will become a Toyota team in 2024 and promote its development driver.

Nemechek will drive the No. 42 Chevrolet that was initially driven by Noah Gragson, but he abruptly quit the team last month while under NASCAR suspension. That created an opportunity for Legacy co-owners Jimmie Johnson and Maury Gallagher to start fresh, and, as the team prepares for its move to Toyota, took a driver favored by the manufacturer.

Nemechek will be teammates with Erik Jones, and Johnson, again plans to race a limited Cup schedule in 2024.

“To be able to announce my plans for next season so early and officially say I will be competing full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series relieves a lot of pressure,” Nemechek said. “There is so much to be done for next year, and this gives us the opportunity to get the news out there and move forward."

Nemechek is a second generation NASCAR driver who found himself in a Cup ride in 2020. He wasn't ready and decided to step back to try to work his way forward again.

Nemechek drove two full seasons for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series, where he became a Toyota development driver and won seven races. He's back in the Xfinity Series this year with Joe Gibbs Racing, still a Toyota driver, and his five wins have him ranked second in the standings.

Now he's got a seat waiting for him in the Cup Series, with Johnson and Richard Petty as his mentors and fellow Toyota development driver Jones his teammate.

Johnson and Nemechek's dad, “Front Row Joe” were teammates at Hendrick Motorsports in 2002 and 2003. Joe Nemechek drove the No. 25 Chevrolet and John Hunter was five years old at that time.

“We’re excited to have John Hunter in the Legacy Motor Club family and I can’t wait to see what he can do in the No. 42 next season,” Johnson said. “He is impressive both on and off the track and will be a great ambassador."

Nemechek is excited to have worked his way back into a Cup ride.

“Going back to the Truck Series was humbling in a way, but it was the best thing I ever did for myself and my career,” Nemechek said. “I was able to compete for wins and two championships for KBM where we won races and were consistently one of the teams to beat week in and week out.”

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AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing