NEMECHEK'S STRONG PERFORMANCE SHORT CIRCUITS IN SECOND HALF OF POCONO RACE LONG POND, Pa. (July 24, 2005) -- For the first 120 laps in Sunday's Nextel Cup race Joe Nemechek was on cruise control, easily running in the top five, including leading...
NEMECHEK'S STRONG PERFORMANCE SHORT CIRCUITS IN SECOND HALF OF POCONO RACE
LONG POND, Pa. (July 24, 2005) -- For the first 120 laps in Sunday's Nextel Cup race Joe Nemechek was on cruise control, easily running in the top five, including leading eight laps. But in the final 80 laps Nemechek's track position bounced around like a yo-yo on Pocono's Raceway's 2.5-mile triangular oval.
Though Nemechek's U.S. Army Chevrolet fought back to the front on two occasions in those final 80 laps, the end result didn't play out in his favor as he finished 22nd in the Pennsylvania 500.
"They knew that we were here today," said Nemechek, who moved from 18th to 16th in the driver point standings. "But what could go wrong did go wrong in the second half of the race. There was just too much to overcome."
The first problem that Nemechek incurred was a pit road miscue following a caution on Lap 120. He came into the pits third and left 15th.
"That didn't help, but there was still plenty of time left to get to the front and that's what we did," explained Nemechek. "The Army car was so good that I knew we would get to where we belonged in track position."
Nemechek was right. By Lap 138 he was back in third place and running fast lap times.
But the ongoing voodoo that has been plaguing the 01 team struck again -- this time on Lap 162. With one lap from making a scheduled pit stop, Nemechek's left-front tire blew as he was entering the final turn.
After the tire incident, Nemechek immediately headed to pit road, but just missed the entrance before the yellow flag waved. It was so close that NASCAR called for a replay. He was assessed a penalty for entering the pits too early and was sent to the back of the longest line -- in 25th place.
"Timing is everything," said crew chief Ryan Pemberton. "Had Joe made it onto pit road before the caution light came on, we would have been in first place when the pit stops cycled out. We were only a few feet shy of making it."
Nemechek continued to soldier on. He was making another charge to the front when he was dealt the final blow of the race with nine laps remaining. He got hit from behind, sending the Army Chevy spinning onto the infield grass.
"We suffered some major damage in that incident," offered Nemechek. "I came down pit road three times for repairs. We just hung on at the end to get the best result we could."
"One of these days things are going to go our way and we'll be up there fighting for the win at the end," Nemechek continued. "I had a great car today as I have had all year. I'm frustrated right now, but not discouraged. This is a good team and we just have to keep plugging away."
Kurt Busch won the race and was followed to the checkered flag by Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin.
"Kurt had the best car today - no doubt about that," said Nemechek. "Our Army Chevy was equally as good or better than any other car."
Nemechek and the Army of One team will do battle again Aug. 7 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. The Nextel Cup Series has the upcoming weekend off.