Haas Carter Motorsports held a press conference this afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway to introduce Joe Nemechek as its new driver for the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup season. Nemechek will replace Jimmy Spencer in the No. 26 Kmart Taurus. JOE ...
Haas Carter Motorsports held a press conference this afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway to introduce Joe Nemechek as its new driver for the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup season. Nemechek will replace Jimmy Spencer in the No. 26 Kmart Taurus.
JOE NEMECHEK --26-- Kmart Taurus
"It's good to be here. I'm looking forward to working with Carl Haas, Travis Carter and the whole bunch at the race shop. Having Kmart on board, what a family company. I know we shop there all the time. I've got a great teammate to work with in Todd Bodine. He's a great friend and we've been talking quite a bit this year and we're looking forward to working together and I think we're gonna get in victory lane. I'm very positive that we're gonna get in victory lane with the Kmart Ford Taurus, it's just gonna take a little bit of time and hard work."
HOW DID THIS COME ABOUT? "I'm a race car driver. I want to get out and race, so I had to start looking for other opportunities. Everything really started coming together about Kansas. I think that's when Jimmy finally told them he was leaving and we immediately started talking. Todd and I have been good friends for a long time and we communicate very well, and I think that's gonna be a big part of the success of this race team."
WHAT ABOUT SWITCHING TO A FORD? WILL THERE BE AN ADJUSTMENT? "I don't think it's gonna take long. We have some testing planned over the winter and we just have to go out and make some laps. They've got a really good program with Yates Engines -- that's a big part of this program. They've had a lot of success. I mean, they've had a lot of poles this year so the cars run good. Hopefully, I can bring a little bit of leadership to the team that's gonna help them get to the next level."
TRAVIS WANTED AN EXPERIENCED DRIVER. "It's getting harder and harder to bring new drivers with no experience into this sport. I've gotten us there. I just won my second race a few weeks ago, but it's tough and it's getting harder and harder for new drivers to come in. I hope he feels that I can bring the winning part of things to this team and get them in victory lane. I knew how I did it twice. It took two years to get back in victory lane, so that shows just how tough it is. But given the proper equipment and proper pit crew, and if you have every little bit of luck going your way, you can get in victory lane." HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW TRAVIS? "I'm just getting to know him. I've known Travis a long time, but not on a real personal basis, but just in the short time I have known him he's gonna be pretty tough. He wants to win. He's a competitor. That's the one thing I have to say about Andy Petree and our deal this year is that he wants to race. It's really hard leaving there because he's a competitor and he wants to get out on that race track and win. Travis is the same way. Donnie Wingo, my crew chief, he wants to win too. He's had a taste of victory and the potential is there, we just have to capitalize on it."
TRAVIS CARTER, Car Owner --26-- Kmart Taurus
"We've got a lot of new plans for the year 2002. We're looking forward to that year with great enthusiasm. I think we've made a lot of progress during the current year, but racing is tough. It's a tough business and it takes a lot of dedication and hard work. I think we continue to improve our cars and that's our goal for the future -- to keep stepping up and put ourselves in a position to win some races."
WHAT WILL JOE BRING TO THIS TEAM? "I felt like we needed an experienced guy who had all the experience he could bring. At the time that Jimmy notified us, Joe seemed to be available. He came and sought the job and, to me, that's a big, positive step. He sought the job with us. We discussed it and said, 'We need a guy that's got some experience and won a race and seems to be a pretty good qualifier.' It was just the normal things. The guy is intelligent. He studies this business a lot. He works with his people on cars. That Busch team enables him to learn a lot of things and brings some things that I think we can take advantage of."
HOW COME TEAMS AREN'T HIRING YOUNG KIDS ANYMORE? "I think our situation may be a little different. We've been fortunate enough to have Kmart going into its fourth year with us, but this is the final year of that agreement. Quite honestly, we're put in a position to either convince them that they need to stay here and agree to stay with us after next year, or we're gonna have to find some new sponsors. Sometimes when you step up with these young guys, it's hard to perform well enough early. People aren't beating your door down to bring money nowadays, so, I think, we have to do the best we can to perform well and entice them to stay with this team."
DO YOU SEE ANY TEAM MEMBER CHANGES? "There were some rumors about some of the guys leaving to go with Jimmy. They haven't said that to me personally, so I don't expect it. There are some positions in some areas that I think we need to try to get more experience. I'm not necessarily saying better people, but I think some more experienced people in some areas that could make us stronger."
IS CHANGING DRIVERS GOING TO SLOW YOUR TEAM'S PROGRESS OF THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS? "No, we certainly hope it's the contrary. I think one advantage we could have that we haven't had, and this is no criticism of anyone in particular, but our drivers just weren't that compatible and didn't communicate that well since we've been a multi-car operation. I think this is the first time that we have two drivers going in that, I think, will communicate and take the time to visit and discuss what's going on with each other's teams and cars. We're expecting that to be a big plus for us."