NEMECHEK UPBEAT ABOUT RECENT RESULT, UPCOMING SCHEDULE
BROOKYLN, Mich. (June 14, 2005) -- With a new bounce in his step after posting his best finish of the season in Pocono on Sunday, Joe Nemechek feels it's "breakthrough time" for his U.S. Army team.
It's not only the third place result at Pocono that has Nemechek feeling excited. It's also the stretch of upcoming Nextel Cup races that has him thinking of a turnaround for the 01 team.
"Looking at the schedule and how we performed at the next six tracks last year -- Michigan, Sonoma, Daytona, Chicago, New Hampshire and Pocono -- the Army team should be feeling pretty good right now," said Nemechek. "All of the finishes might not have been that good, but the performance was there at each event and only a mechanical problem halted our charge at some of the races. We have a pretty good book at each of those tracks."
The start of the six-race stretch will be this weekend at Michigan International Speedway where Nemechek was comfortably running in the top five last June before his engine broke with 27 laps remaining.
"We also experienced other mechanical breakdowns last year at Sonoma, New Hampshire and Pocono," said Nemechek. "If we can run similar to the way we did last year at the next six races and get rid of the demons, we should be in good shape."
Nemechek, who is 20th in driver points, said that magic number of being 400 points away from the leader and earning a spot in the Chase for the Nextel Cup, is not out of the question.
"We need to stay clean and get on a streak in the Army Chevrolet," said Nemechek. "If we can do that, we'll be there. We know we have the talent to perform well, we just need a little luck to go along with our performance. We let a couple of wins get away from us this season. We need to close the deal."
With 12 races remaining before the Chase begins, Nemechek knows the current stretch of races is where he has to make up some ground.
"This is an important stretch to make gains in the standings," offered Nemechek. "We know what a hot streak can do for you in the points -- we proved that last year -- but that streak came too late in the season."
Nemechek was referring to the final 10 races of 2004 when he was one of the hottest drivers with one win, three top fives and six top 10s. During the stretch he picked up six positions in the point standings.
"It can be done, just need to get on a hot streak and have some luck," said Nemechek. "We had a good run last week and know we can get it done in Michigan."