Nemechek fastest in Talladega's Happy Hour

Nemechek fastest in Talladega's Happy Hour

Polesitter Joe Nemechek easily paced the field in final practice for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams at Talladega Superspeedway. Nemechek's lap of 196.358 mph bested the field by nearly one mile per hour. Joe Nemechek. Photo by Eric ...

Polesitter Joe Nemechek easily paced the field in final practice for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams at Talladega Superspeedway. Nemechek's lap of 196.358 mph bested the field by nearly one mile per hour.

Joe Nemechek.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
"You know, it's about the car," said Nemechek. "The car has got to be right and the engine has got to be right. You've got to have the right package underneath. You've got to put it where it needs to be, but it's about the race car itself. When the race comes, that's when the driver makes a difference."

Nemechek, however, appeared to have some mechanical issues towards the end of happy hour, as the No. 01 Chevy began to smoke. It was not clear at the time of the writing of this report whether the crew would need to make an engine change before the start of the race tomorrow.

Ryan Newman charted the second-quickest time with a lap of 195.828 mph, while Jeff Gordon set the third-fastest time with a lap of 195.524 mph.

"I'm going to approach it like we do every other weekend and like we do for every other Talladega race and just get out there and race as hard as we can and try to get up front and stay there and if we get shuffled to the back, we'll try to work our way back to the front," said series standings leader Jeff Gordon.

Robby Gordon and Casey Mears complete the list of top five drivers in the session.

Carl Edwards driving the No. 99 Roush Ford hit the wall during practice crunching his back fender. The damage was fairly minor and the team was expected to fix the car instead of rolling out the back-up.

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Series NASCAR-CUP