A Water Bottle Almost Cost John Hunter Nemechek a Win in Scorching Nashville Race

nascar xfinity series tennessee lottery 250
A Water Bottle Almost Decided the NASCAR RaceJames Gilbert - Getty Images
  • Xfinity drivers persisted through extreme heat in the Tennesse Lottery 250

  • Serval drivers reported cool shirt failures and lackluster A/C as their internal temperature climbed over 130 degrees.

  • John Hunter Nemechek collected a water bottle while leading, nearly ending his day with an engine overheat.

John Hunter Nemechek won his second race in nine Xfinity starts for Joe Gibbs Racing on Saturday evening. This was the second time in a row that the No. 20 JGR Toyota made it to victory lane in the Xfinity series.

But the race was almost lost for Nemechek when he collected a plastic water bottle on his grill while leading in the final stage. The driver had the choice to either fall back and use the rear of a competitor to scrub the piece of debris off of his car or hope that his engine would last until he hit the next almost-lapped car. Nemechek was unwilling to give up the lead late in the race.

In the end, Nemechek prevailed, catching up to Patrick Emerling in the No. 07 car and successfully dislodging the water bottle.


After the race, Nemechek was unable to answer the follow-up question asked by NASCAR on NBC reporter Kim Coon as he continued to recover from the heat inside the race car.

"I can’t tell you, I really don’t know," Nemechek replied when asked what he learned before his first Nashville Cup race tomorrow. "I’m kinda speechless right now, Kim."

Water outside the car was not the only issue in Saturday's Xfinity race; with temperatures in the higher 90s, the interior of the cars reached more than 130 degrees. Some cool shirts failed, leaving the drivers covered in hot water with limited ways to cool themselves down.

Riley Herbst was heard over the radio asking for cold water after he couldn't reach the hose meant to evacuate the collected hot water. His crew chief, Devin Restivo, offered two bottles of water to calm him down. Herbst rebounded to finish sixth.

Chandler Smith, who elects not to use the cool shirt, finished in second position for his best result of the season.

Jesse Love, passed 69 cars after starting after failing to qualify after a mechanical issue, also had a cool shirt failure. Love has no idea how he continued to make it back up to the front while dealing with the extreme heat.

Every driver interviewed after the race either commented on the extreme heat or showed signs of heat exhaustion.

Tomorrow it is forecasted to be about five degrees cooler for the Cup race, as Nemechek, Ty Gibbs, and Noah Gragston prepare to run it back.

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