Richmond Jinx? Not so says Crew Chief Ryan Pemberton
RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 8, 2004) -- Ryan Pemberton said he is excited about returning to Richmond International Raceway, a venue that has probably caused the U.S. Army crew chief more anguish than any other track on the Nextel Cup circuit.
Working with three different drivers in the last three races on the .75-mile short track, Pemberton has witnessed enough bad breaks that should make him a little edgy going into this weekend's Chevy Rock and Roll 400.
But despite four wrecked cars and a driver critically injured in those three races, Pemberton feels upbeat about his team's chances for Saturday night's 400-lap event.
"What makes me feel positive about Richmond is that in the past three races we have run well there," said Pemberton. "The breaks definitely went against us and I guess someone could say that we are jinxed there. But I'm not buying any of that. What happened to us is just part of racing, nothing more and nothing less. I believe that if we continue to have good cars, the tide will eventually turn in our favor."
In May of 2003, the Army team was dealt a devastating blow at Richmond when driver Jerry Nadeau was critically injured in a crash during a practice session.
In the ensuing fall race at Richmond, substitute driver, Mike Skinner, captured the pole for the Army team, but in the pre and post qualifying practices, he crashed into the wall, resulting in enough damage to bring out a backup car after each incident.
And in this year's Richmond spring race, Joe Nemechek was moving to the front at the midway point of the competition. But as he was passing Jamie McMurray for second place on Lap 201, the two drivers got tangled, sending both cars crashing into the wall. Nemechek's day was basically done and he was credited with a 36th-place finish.
"That was hard to take because we had an awesome car that night and it was very capable of winning the race," said Nemechek, who won the 2003 spring race at Richmond. "What happened between Jamie and me was one of those racing deals. At the time of the collision I was going to the front - my car was that good.
"I feel we'll be just as good this weekend as we were in the last race at Richmond. I know what it takes to win there and the Army of One crew knows how to tune for that track. With that combination it's difficult not to feel confident and upbeat. "