DOWN BUT NOT OUT, NEMECHEK FIGHTS BACK TO FINISH FOURTH IN CHARLOTTE CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Oct. 15, 2005) -- Overcoming adversity has been the trademark of Joe Nemechek and the U.S. Army Team. And Saturday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway the 01 team's...
DOWN BUT NOT OUT, NEMECHEK FIGHTS BACK TO FINISH FOURTH IN CHARLOTTE
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Oct. 15, 2005) -- Overcoming adversity has been the trademark of Joe Nemechek and the U.S. Army Team. And Saturday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway the 01 team's comeback was even more dramatic as Nemechek battled back from the rear of the field to finish fourth in the UAW-GM Quality 500.
Twice during the 336-lap event the Army of One team was forced to replace a battery due to an electrical problem with the Army Chevrolet. And following each replacement, Nemechek fell a lap down and was relegated to the back of the pack.
"You talk about fight and spirit, we had it tonight," said Nemechek, who retook the lead on Lap 320 and held the front-running position until eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson passed him with 12 laps remaining.
"My car was a little tight in the middle of the corner and Jimmie was able to take advantage of that," Nemechek continued. "What feels good is that we put ourselves in position to win. That's what makes it fun. We're ready to keep on going and get that first win of the season for our soldiers."
Nemechek, who was the only non-Chase driver to finish in the top five, made a gain in the Nextel Cup driver point standings. He jumped two positions -- from 15th to 13th -- and is six points out of 12th and 17 out of 11th.
"After not making the Chase, our goal was to finish 11th and that is now within our grasp," offered Nemechek.
Nemechek, who ran up front on the tricky 1.5-mile oval until his alternator started to malfunction near the 200-lap mark, was positioned in 30th place with 80 laps remaining. From that point of the race it was a combination of savvy driving, calculated pit strategy by crew chief Ryan Pemberton and excellent pit stops that propelled the 01 Chevrolet to the front.
"I can't say enough about this entire U.S. Army team," said Nemechek. "The pit crew was incredible tonight, we gained on almost every stop and towards the end of the race when we really needed a couple of quick stops, the guys came through with flying colors."
A decision by Pemberton not to pit following a caution on Lap 268 put Nemechek back in contention. While the majority of the teams pitted for fresh rubber, Nemechek stayed out and moved into ninth place when the race was restarted on Lap 275. He remained in the top 10 for the remainder of the event.
The 505-mile race, which went into overtime with a green-white-checkered restart, saw numerous cautions due to blown tires.
"It didn't seem like the tires would go for more than 30 laps," explained Nemechek. "We were all abusing the tires. I've been in these situations before and I was just trying to run the pace I thought my tires would withstand. You would see somebody go by you and pretty soon they would be in the fence. It was like Bristol, survival of the fittest."
"It was a great team effort tonight," Nemechek continued. "Not only from the guys here at the race, but everybody back at the shop who built this fast racecar."
The next stop for Nemechek and the U.S. Army team will be Sunday (Oct. 23) at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.