Win in Kansas Tops Nemechek's Dream Weekend KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Oct. 10, 2004) -- A jubilant Joe Nemechek called it a dream weekend after he won Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race here at Kansas Speedway. The U.S. Army driver not only captured his...
Win in Kansas Tops Nemechek's Dream Weekend
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Oct. 10, 2004) -- A jubilant Joe Nemechek called it a dream weekend after he won Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race here at Kansas Speedway.
The U.S. Army driver not only captured his fourth career Cup win, he also took the pole for the 400-mile event and won Saturday's Busch Series race in his NEMCO Motorsports entry.
Nemechek's Kansas City sweep concluded with a thrilling finish as he edged a hard-charging Ricky Rudd to the checkered flag by 0.081 seconds.
"There at the end (last lap) I was trying to save gas and here comes Ricky Rudd out of nowhere," said Nemechek, who led the final 47 laps of the 267-lap race. "I was like, 'Holy Moley.' I had to get back on it. He got beside me one time, but I wasn't going to let it happen."
And he didn't. Nemechek's tenacity and driving skills prevailed as his No. 01 U.S. Army/MB2 Chevrolet took that joyous ride to Victory Lane.
"Incredible!," shouted Nemechek. "This is something that every racer dreams of -- winning both races (Cup and Busch) and getting the Bud Pole. It's a tribute to this entire U.S. Army/USG team. It's like a group of people working together for a common goal to have success with the same virtues that are part of the Army.
"I am so proud to represent the Army -- I have the best sponsor in the garage. I want to thank all of the troops in the states and overseas. I hope we made them proud. I've always said that they (soldiers) deserve to have their car in Victory Lane. Now we did it. This is really a cool experience for me to represent the Army."
It was a finish that made military personnel proud with the sponsored cars of the Army, Air Force (Rudd) and National Guard (Greg Biffle) finishing 1-2-3.
The pivotal point of the race came when crew chief Ryan Pemberton made a calculated call by not electing to take a splash of fuel on Lap 209. While the leaders pitted to top off their fuel tanks, Nemechek moved from 12th to 4th and put himself in contention -- but with the possibility of running out of gas if the remainder of the race stayed green.
"We were right on the edge to make it the rest of the way," said Pemberton. "We told Joe to do the best he can to save fuel -- and he did. But a couple cautions came out later and that helped us. It was a tough decision, but I knew I had a driver who could do it. This was really a team effort. Not only did the over-the-wall guys do a super job on pits stops, but everyone on this team hit their marks. It was truly an Army of One victory."
With the fuel concern and the last lap duel with Rudd, Nemechek was asked in post-race interviews if he felt like he almost let this win get away.
"Well, there are a lot of would have's, could have's and should have's," explained Nemechek. "But I'm sitting here in the media center with the big trophy. Nobody can take that away from me."
And nobody did as the Banquet 400 trophy was safely packed in the team's transporter for the ride home to the MB2 Motorsports shop in Concord, N.C.