John Hunter Nemechek is riding a huge wave of momentum heading into the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver begins his quest to make history.

When the Playoffs open Friday evening at Bristol Motor Speedway, he will be looking to join his father, Joe, as a series champion and make the Nemecheks the first to accomplish the feat in the history of the NASCAR Xfinity Series which began in 1982.

“It would be huge,” Nemechek said. “A championship is one thing I haven’t won in the NASCAR National Series so to be able to go win an Xfinity Series title would be huge and being able to do it and to have a championship in the same series my dad did in ’92 when he won it would be huge. You see a lot of father-son combinations but not a lot of father-son champions.”

Nemechek is a favorite to win the title among the eight drivers who earned playoff berths. He won the regular-season championship on the strength of a series-high six victories. He also has finished among the top five in half his starts at this stage of the season (13 of 26) to go along with 19 top-10 finishes, two poles and a series-best 915 laps led. His laps led have been dominant, with the next best total being 361 by fellow Playoff driver Justin Allgaier, and he co-shares the series lead for top-10 finishes.

“I think the keys to success is the team that is around me,” said Nemechek, who will be driving the No. 20 JGR Toyota at Texas. “I feel I’ve grown as a driver but more or less it’s the people on the team at JGR, the men and women at the shop. Everybody is working really hard; we’ve been able to execute very well; and we’ve had speed every week. We’ve been able to contend every single week. With that, it’s a huge team effort and that’s what it takes to get it done.”

The one place Nemechek always has gotten it done in his career has been Texas Motor Speedway, which plays host to the second race of the three-race opening round with the Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 on Saturday, Sept., 23 (2:30 p.m. CT., TV: USA; Radio: PRN, SiriusXM).

He is one of only two NXS Playoff drivers with a previous victory at Texas – Cole Custer is the other – and has been strong in his five career starts. He has four top-10 finishes, including three of those among the top five. He also had success in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at TMS with a win, pole and three top-10 finishes in seven starts.

“I definitely enjoy going to Texas, being able to have a win there as well as a lot of great runs over the past couple of years not only in the Xfinity Series but the Truck Series,” said Nemechek, whose NXS win came in 2021. “Texas is a place that I look forward to going to every single year. I definitely feel like that can be an advantage for us, hopefully a good advantage and we get a win there.”

The 2023 season itself has just been part of what has been a “dream year” for the 26-year-old Nemechek.

On Sept. 6, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson’s Legacy Motor Club announced that Nemechek will be joining the organization on the Cup Series level in 2024 as the driver of the No. 42 Toyota. He returns to the premier series where he was a rookie for Front Row Motorsports in 2020 and has made 40 career starts.

“It’s huge to be able to go race on the Cup level with Legacy Motor Club next year,” Nemechek said. “I’m looking forward to doing so, but at the same time it is all focus on 2023 right now. I’ll focus on 2024 once we get through the championship this year.”

In addition to the exciting news of a Cup ride in 2024, the Nemecheks also had some on the personal side as well. He and his wife, Taylor, announced Aug. 24 the birth of their second child, Penelope. She joins her two-year-old sister, Aspen.

“This year has definitely been incredible both on and off the race track,” Nemechek said. “It’s been a great year on the race track but also off with having Aspen and now Penelope, with her being our second child. It means a lot to Taylor and myself, and to have a lot of good runs on top of it, win a lot of races and be a contender every single week, it’s been a dream year.”

The NASCAR Playoffs weekend will be highlighted by the NASCAR Xfinity Series Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 on Saturday, Sept. 23 (2:30 p.m. CT on USA Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90, and PRN), and the NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 on Sunday, Sept. 24 (2:30 p.m. CT on USA Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90, PRN, and 95.9 The Ranch-local).

Texas Motor Speedway’s always-busy events schedule is well under way. Upcoming events in 2023 include: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 NASCAR Playoffs weekend (Sept. 23-24), Goodguys’ Summit Racing Lone Start Nationals (Sept. 29-Oct. 1), Speedway Children’s Charities Smoke Show (Oct. 11) and Gordy’s Hwy 30 Music Fest (Oct. 19-22). The year wraps up with the family-favorite and speedway tradition Gift of Lights holiday light show.