Charlotte II: Joe Nemechek race report

Nemechek Finishes Fifth in Charlotte CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 16, 2004) -- Last week in Kansas U.S. Army crew chief Ryan Pemberton made a calculated call and Joe Nemechek went on to win his first race of the season. Saturday night at Lowe's Motor ...

Nemechek Finishes Fifth in Charlotte

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 16, 2004) -- Last week in Kansas U.S. Army crew chief Ryan Pemberton made a calculated call and Joe Nemechek went on to win his first race of the season. Saturday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Pemberton made another calculated call that paced Nemechek to a solid fifth-place finish in the UAW-GM Quality 500.

Nemechek's No. 01 G.I. Joe/U.S. Army Chevrolet was running in 13th place and out of contention when the caution flag flew on Lap 313 of 334. While most teams came into the pits to take four tires, Pemberton opted for two, which shot Nemechek to first when the race was restarted on Lap 318.

"This was Ryan Pemberton's day -- he made a gutsy call," said Nemechek. "I kind of second guessed him and said, 'Are you sure?' I then said, 'I don't know about that, but it's your call and I'll drive the wheels off of it.' The decision got us excellent track position and we were able to hold on and stay in the top five. I couldn't hold off the first three guys who took four tires (Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.).

"At the end, I had a good race going for fourth with Kurt Busch, who also had four fresh tires. My car was a little too tight to hold him off. He raced me hard and I raced him clean. He was surprised how good the G.I. Joe/U.S. Army Chevy was with only two new tires."

Said Pemberton of the two-tire decision, "We were 13th, jammed in traffic and not going anywhere. If we took four tires we might have cracked the top 10, but we probably would have stayed 13th."

In Kansas last Sunday, Pemberton's decision not to pit for a splash of fuel with 60 laps remaining led the U.S. Army/USG Chevy to Victory Lane.

Nemechek started Saturday night's 500-miler from the eighth position and ran in the top 10 for the first half of the race. But a pit road problem on Lap 172 cost Nemechek valuable track position and he did not get back into the top 10 until the two-tire call by Pemberton.

"After the problem (loose lug nut) we had on that pit stop, I was stuck in traffic and didn't have clean air to run fast," said Nemechek. "But it all worked out in the end with another Army of One effort."

Nemechek has now posted four top-10 finishes in the last five races and moved from 25th to 19th in the Nextel Cup driver point season standings. His top-10 results during this span were sixth (New Hampshire), seventh (Talladega), first (Kansas) and fifth (Charlotte).

"We're on a roll," offered Nemechek. "We need to stay focused and continue what we've been able to accomplish as of late. We have more to prove and we're going to give it our all in the remaining five races. We're having a lot of fun."

The next stop for Nemechek and the U.S. Army team will be Sunday (Oct. 24) at the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway short track.

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Joe Nemechek , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson