Chicagoland: Joe Nemechek race report

JOLIET, Ill. (July 11, 2004) -- Joe Nemechek, driving the USG Sheetrock Brand Chevrolet, claimed his second top-10 finish in as many weeks with an eighth-place result in Sunday's Tropicana 400 here at Chicagoland Speedway. "Let's just say with...

JOLIET, Ill. (July 11, 2004) -- Joe Nemechek, driving the USG Sheetrock Brand Chevrolet, claimed his second top-10 finish in as many weeks with an eighth-place result in Sunday's Tropicana 400 here at Chicagoland Speedway.

"Let's just say with last week's 10th-place finish in Daytona and eighth today, the second half of our season has begun," said Nemechek. "The door we've been knocking on is starting to open. In order to get to where we want to be -- to win races -- you have to start with these kinds of results first. We're on the right track and we'll get there."

Nemechek, who started the 267-lap, 400-mile race from the ninth position, had a shaky opening with a loose-handling racecar. After the first caution on Lap 17, Nemechek found himself in 38th place as a result of an ill-handling car and a pit-road penalty for a loose-tire violation.

"We made a wrong decision on the setup at the start, but it was early in the race and we knew that we could come back," explained Nemechek. "It was a nice recovery. We had good pit strategy and good pit stops. The USG Sheetrock/U.S. Army Chevy was a top-10 performer all weekend and we earned what we got."

One of the key decisions for the 01 team came during a pit stop on Lap 210 when crew chief Ryan Pemberton called for two tires. At the time, Nemechek was running in 15th-place and following the two-tire stop, he gained valuable track position by jumping to sixth.

"It was a gamble not to take four tires and you can look at the decision two different ways," said Pemberton. "But in the end we had a decent finish and have momentum going into the next race."

That next race will be at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, Sunday, July 25. The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup circuit will have next weekend off before the final stretch of 18 consecutive weekends of racing, which will conclude in Homestead, Fla., Nov. 21.

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Joe Nemechek