Atlanta: Joe Nemechek race report

Nemechek Finishes 15th in Atlanta ATLANTA (March 14, 2004) -- Joe Nemechek finished 15th in Sunday's Golden Corral 500, but the U.S. Army driver felt the result could have been better had his 01 Chevrolet run as strong in the first half of ...

Nemechek Finishes 15th in Atlanta

ATLANTA (March 14, 2004) -- Joe Nemechek finished 15th in Sunday's Golden Corral 500, but the U.S. Army driver felt the result could have been better had his 01 Chevrolet run as strong in the first half of the race as it did during the second half.

Nemechek, who started 26th, wrestled with handling problems at the beginning and fell a lap down in the early stages of the race.

But at the midway point of the 325-lap event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the Army of One team found the right combination, and from then on, the U.S. Army/USG Chevy was one of the fastest cars on the 1.54-mile oval.

During one green-flag run (from lap 156 to 214) Nemechek went from 24th to 18th place. What stopped the veteran driver from posting a better finish at the end was that he was never in position to get back on the lead lap.

"We were really good the second half of the race," said Nemechek. "But unfortunately we got lapped early (lap 76). It was tough in the beginning because Tony Stewart was on a rampage lapping cars and there weren't any cautions to stop his momentum. Timing and track position are everything and today they weren't in our favor.

"We were trying hard to make up that lap, but never could get it back even though the Army Chevy was as good as a number of cars in the top 10 at the end of the race. We passed Stewart and Jeff Gordon at the end and also passed cars that led laps today.

"Overall it was an okay day. We know we can be better -- we just need to figure out the setup in the beginning. On the positive side, we fought back, the guys had another excellent day in the pits and the Hendrick engine performed flawlessly."

Crew chief Ryan Pemberton also had mixed feelings about the team's performance.

"I was disappointed that we didn't qualify better and the car wasn't handling properly during the first part of the race," said Pemberton. "But we didn't give up and Joe came through with another excellent performance. We're so close to being a much better team."

Nemechek remained 13th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver standings. He is four points out of 10th.

The next race for the U.S. Army team will be Sunday (March 21) at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

-mb2m-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Joe Nemechek