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WEST ALLIS — John Hunter Nemechek flashed a grin full of braces on Tuesday afternoon after earning the fast qualifying time among 72 drivers in the Swiss Colony Howie Lettow Memorial 150 at The Milwaukee Mile.

Nemecheck, who celebrated his 15th birthday on Monday, begins driver’s education classes next week in Mooresville, N.C. But reaching the top of the ASA Midwest Late Model speed charts ahead of top-notch talent, including NASCAR Cup champions Matt Kenseth and Rusty Wallace, didn’t faze the teenager in the least.

“Our main goal was to make the show and we did that,” Nemechek, who recorded a time of 29.004 seconds on the one-mile oval, said before the race. “Now our second goal is to go out here, finish the race and try to get a top-10 finish.”

Nemechek fell short of that goal, finishing 23rd in a race won by Travis Sauter.

Nemechek only has run eight late-model races in his fledging career. He’s earned six wins competing in the Allison Legacy Series based in the Carolinas, and his performance has pleased his father, Joe Nemechek, a car owner and driver who races on the Sprint and Nationwide circuits.

“I am happy he’s able to enjoy the experience and comes here and race with some of the best drivers ever,” said Joe Nemechek, a four-time NASCAR Cup race winner. “He’s wheeling the tar out of that thing.

“I’m amazed, not because I’m his dad. Just watching how the younger generation is catching on, how quick they catch on.”

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