Talladega: Pole winner interview

JOE NEMECHEK - NO. 78 NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER IMPALA SS, POLE SITTER FOR AARON'S 499 THE COORS LIGHT POLE WINNER. THIS IS NEMECHEK'S CAREER POLE, HIS 4TH AT TALLADEGA, MORE THAN ANY ACTIVE DRIVER. ON HIS LAP, HOW DID YOU DO IT? "You're ...

JOE NEMECHEK - NO. 78 NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER IMPALA SS, POLE SITTER FOR AARON'S 499

THE COORS LIGHT POLE WINNER. THIS IS NEMECHEK'S CAREER POLE, HIS 4TH AT TALLADEGA, MORE THAN ANY ACTIVE DRIVER.

ON HIS LAP, HOW DID YOU DO IT?

"You're going to have to ask the crew guys how we did that. But that's the same car we had in Daytona and we were really fast down there. They were able to go back and work on it and I've got to really thank Hendrick Motorsports for the engines. I think the engines are a big part of how you qualify here. In the past, we've got a number of poles, both in Cup and quite a few of them in the Nationwide car. You've got to have good power and the car has got to be slick and go through the air. It's about the crew guys today. That team has worked hard. I think they work harder than any other team out there only because we're a small organization that's trying to compete with the big guys. Being a single car team operating out of Denver, Colorado makes this a big day for this team."

WHEN YOU QUALIFY, DO YOU THINK ABOUT BACKING UP YOU NICKNAME OF 'FRONT ROW JOE'? OR IS IT JUST ROUTINE TO YOU?

"Well, it's basically routine. You have to try and go as fast as you can every time you go out. If you don't, in the situation we're in not being locked in the top 35, you don't get to play. And that's a tough day. I haven't had very many of those throughout my career and with what I call a new team, with the CoT, there are so many challenges that we have to overcome on a weekly basis. And it's about qualifying. You've got to get qualified in. And I've never had so much stress. You know last year, we did it when we had Certin Teed on board driving for Ginn Racing and we only had to do it five times, but we were locked in the show after that. Driving the Furniture Row Chevy last year, we had 10 or 12 races we ran in and it's just stressful every time you do it. And now doing it this year, it's tough. I mean it's one of the toughest things I've ever had to do. This team has been doing it ever since they started, so my hat's off to them for enduring this much."

IN YOUR SITUATION WHERE YOU'VE GOT TO GET IN THE RACE, BUT YOU KNOW YOU'VE GOT A CAR THAT MIGHT BE ABLE TO SIT ON THE POLE, HOW DOES THE COMPETITOR MENTALITY OF GETTING IT ON THE POLE VERSUS JUST MAKING SURE IT GETS IN THE SHOW? IS THERE A BALANCE YOU HAVE TO STRIKE THERE?

"Yes and no. Here at Talladega, you're just going to get the car going as fast as you can. The track is so smooth, it's awesome. You can run anywhere you want to run. The chances of spinning out here are pretty slim unless you have help, or you have something catastrophic go wrong. But you've got to go as hard as you can. Yesterday, we did about five or six qualifying runs. We basically had the same set up in that we raced with last year here, which we qualified well and ended up racing well until we burned a rear end gear up.

"So, we're just doing the same thing we did last time and the guys working on the car have made the car a little bit better since Daytona. And I think Hendrick Motorsports has found a little bit more power for us. So, it's a pleasure to drive when they drive like this. It's just getting them to drive like this every week has been a challenge."

WITH THIS 4TH CAREER POLE HERE AT TALLADEGA, THAT'S TOPS FOR THIS PARTICULAR RACE TRACK AMONG ACTIVE RACE CAR DRIVERS.

"That's pretty cool. I said on TV today that you don't get to sit on the pole very often when you've got the logo on the hood and the quarter panels say 'National Day of Prayer'. A lot of people in society today don't want to talk about praying in schools or praying in the workplace or doing all this stuff and here we've got the spotlight for it and it means a lot to me. It means a lot to my team and our car owner. Next Thursday is the National Day of Prayer and I hope everybody in here (media center) and everybody who is reading and listening to all the things going on, takes a moment and says a prayer. It's important for ourselves personally and it's important for our nation and as a country; it's important for the world. It's very important. So it's pretty cool to be able to do that and have it on your hood."

WHAT KIND OF STRATEGY WILL WE SEE TOMORROW?

"Strategy for tomorrow? When they drop the green flag, I'm going to go as hard as I can go. I mean that's just part of it. I think we're going to be fast. We should be able to lead some laps. But with the CoT, you never know. They gang up on you're a little bit and put a move to you. The goal is to finish the race. Number one, we need to finish the race. We need to gain some points in this race. I think it's a race that we can have a very good finish out of. The first pit stop we have a couple of adjustments we're going to have to make just because of the way we qualified, which is no big deal. We did it last year and we were able to come right back up through the field. I'm looking forward to a good day. Everybody out there is going to go as hard as they can go. With Tony Stewart starting on the outside, it'll be interesting."

WHAT DOES GETTING A POLE MEAN FOR YOUR SPONSOR AND DO FOR YOUR TEAM?

"It's definitely very big. I think it's very big for Furniture Row as a company. It's very big for the National Day of Prayer. I think (team owner) Barney Visser has got 3,000 people that work for him nationwide, and it's big for business. It's good. I know Denver, Colorado has really been pumped up this year. Although we've had our trying moments, we definitely show promise of being a contender in some of these races. And that's important. It's good for his Furniture Row stores. Everybody needs to get out there and buy some mattresses and some furniture."

IS QUALIFYING SETUP AT TALLADEGA NOT AS MUCH DIFFERENT FROM SET SETUP AS WE MIGHT THINK IT IS:

"I am telling you since they repaved this track and it is as smooth as it is, we don't have to do much. There are a couple of things we are going to have to do, but it is all small stuff. But again, we are trying to get every thousandth of a second we can get in qualifying and we have to. I mean, the position that we are in, only locking in the top-35, we have to be in that position to take advantage of every possible thing we and. But, as far as, racing, man, you see what we have right there. The adjustments we are going to do are not going to slow it down."

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS TRACK THAT FOUR OF YOUR 10 CAREER POLES HAVE BEEN HERE AT TALLADEGA?

"I guess it is just the need for speed, right? I have been very fortunate, I don't know how many Nationwide poles we have here, I think we have five or six of those things here too. It takes a lot of work and innovative thinking to get your cars to go fast to get them through the air. The motor has to run good, but back in the day, we were down here testing all the time and trying to figure it out. NASCAR gives you a box you have to operate in. Then you have to say 'Ok, what areas can we work on that we are not going our hands slapped for that can help our car go faster. It is paying attention to all of the details and having guys that can think outside the box and come up with new ideas. The thing about us is we are just a small team. We don't have that many employees. When you look at the mega companies, Hendricks, Roush, Joe Gibbs Racing, Childress, there are some big companies there and we were able to beat them today.

"We are very proud of that. Very proud of having Chevrolet involved with our race team. We are looking forward to going faster on more occasions."

WHAT KIND OF A RACE DO YOU EXPECT TOMORROW?

"I think at the beginning of the race, I think you are going to see kind of a wild race. Then I think everybody is going to go to the top and kind of protect what they have going on. It was kind of frustrating last year. Fortunately for us, we had to go to the back because we had to do a lot of stuff to the car more last year than this year, but we were able to drive back up from last to 10th or 12th place. Then later in the race, it seemed like it got harder to make the passes. Everybody just ran the top groove. Then when it came time for the end of the race, they started mixing it up again.

"We have had some great races here, I finished third here when Dale, Sr. won his last race here. Kenny Wallace, my teammate, finished second, we were right there. If Dale hadn't slid up in front of us, one of us, Kenny Wallace or myself were going to win this race. It is just the way things work out.

"You look back, we used to have the wickers on the roof, kinda like the Nationwide rules. Man, that was some of the best racin. We ran four wide all day long. That is what we somehow need to get racin back too.

"NASCAR, the competitors, we have to be smart and we have to put on a show for the fans because that is what is going to make our sport get bigger.

"It just feels good being back in the press room, it has been a long time since I have been in here. Thank you guys."

-credit: gm racing

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Kenny Wallace
Teams Hendrick Motorsports