Atlanta: Joe Nemechek race report

Late Caution Costly For Nemechek in Atlanta; Finishes 17th HAMPTON, Ga. (March 18, 2007) -- Joe Nemechek finished 17th, but the potential of a much better result vanished when NASCAR called a caution for debris with 15 laps remaining in Sunday's...

Late Caution Costly For Nemechek in Atlanta; Finishes 17th

HAMPTON, Ga. (March 18, 2007) -- Joe Nemechek finished 17th, but the potential of a much better result vanished when NASCAR called a caution for debris with 15 laps remaining in Sunday's Nextel Cup race.

The 325-lap, 500-mile event at Atlanta Motor Speedway was looking like it was going to come down to a fuel mileage contest, and Nemechek's No. 13 Ginn Resorts Chevrolet had enough gas to avoid making a late green-flag pit stop.

"We had them on gas," said Nemechek. "It's really disappointing that caution came out. We were successful at saving gas -- we had enough fuel to make it to the end while the majority of the cars in front of us didn't. We were looking at a top-five or better finish."

Nemechek's first big hurdle of the weekend was to qualify. The veteran driver, known as Front Row Joe, accomplished the mission, thanks to a second-lap banzai run during Friday evening's qualifying session on the super-fast 1.5-mile oval.

"If Joe hadn't made that incredible lap, we wouldn't be here talking about our finish," offered crew chief Peter Sospenzo. "Considering how close we were to going home early, a 17th-place finish doesn't look that bad. Honestly, we needed to finish this race and earn some points. Hopefully after next week, we'll be one of the teams with an automatic qualifying berth."

Nemechek started the Kobalt Tools 500 19th and ran in the top 15 and top 20 for the majority of the race.

"It was a hard race and everything you got out there was earned," noted Nemechek. "We wanted a better result, but on the last restart I got boxed in with too many lapped cars. I just couldn't go."

Nemechek gained one spot in the Nextel Cup driver standings. He is 19th, 51 points out of 10th.

-credit: gr

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Joe Nemechek