NEMECHEK DRIVES DAMAGED RACECAR TO 20TH-PLACE FINISH IN KANSAS
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Oct. 9, 2005) -- Joe Nemechek did everything he could to fend off the gremlins, but there were just too many of them Sunday at Kansas Speedway as he brought his U.S. Army Chevrolet home to a 20th-place finish in the Banquet 400 Nextel Cup race.
Nemechek, who started 16th, was strong in the beginning, gaining five spots by the time the first caution flew on Lap 16. On the ensuing pit stop, the first major setback of the day struck Nemechek when he got blocked in by the No. 32 car (Bobby Hamilton Jr.) as he was leaving his pit stall following a quick two-tire change.
The pit-road incident forced Nemechek to back up his 01 Chevy as he watched one car after another pass by him. When he returned to action, he dropped all the way back to 34th place.
"That pit stop killed us," said Nemechek, who remained 15th in the point standings. "Changing right-side tires was a good call, and instead of coming out of the pits in the top five, we were back at the rear of the field. That was an unexpected jolt, but we hung in there and fought our way back through the field."
Nemechek's ride to the front took another setback on Lap 76 when he rammed into the back of the slow-moving No. 11 car of Denny Hamlin. That incident knocked in the front-end of the Army car, and from that point of the race, Nemechek drove an aerodynamically handicapped machine.
"I think a tire was going down on Hamlin's car," explained Nemechek. "He slammed on the brakes and I ran into him hard and smashed in my grille pretty good. That made the car real tight for the rest of the race. These cars are so aerodynamically sensitive you just can't expect to run up front with a damaged front-end."
Though his Army Chevy was crippled, Nemechek drove tenaciously as he wrestled with the ill-handling car. He had the Army Chevy near the top 10 as the 267-lap race was winding down on the 1.5-mile oval. But while positioned in 17th place after the final pit stop on Lap 223, Nemechek was handicapped even more -- this time with a sub par set of tires.
"The last set of tires were awfully tight and I couldn't go anywhere," offered Nemechek. "I was hoping to make a move and get close to the top 10, but we went the other way. The car just wouldn't run the way I had hoped it would."
"I really hate what happened today," Nemechek continued. "We had a good car before all of the bad stuff happened. I hate it for our crew, all of the guys back at the shop and all of the men and women of the Army who are out there cheering us on while protecting our freedom. We'll just continue to soldier on and do battle again next week."
Nemechek and the Army team will be at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte for Saturday night's running of the UAW-GM Quality 500.