SOURCE: Daytona International Speedway Joe Nemechek Wins NAPA Auto Parts 300; Seeks to Double in Today's Daytona 500 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Joe Nemechek scored his first career victory at Daytona International Speedway Saturday, ...
SOURCE: Daytona International Speedway
Joe Nemechek Wins NAPA Auto Parts 300; Seeks to Double in Today's Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Joe Nemechek scored his first career victory at Daytona International Speedway Saturday, winning the NAPA Auto Parts 300 to capture an all-time NASCAR Busch Series record payout of $78,600.
Nemechek will be looking to score a weekend double today (Sunday) in the "Great American Race," the 40th running of the Daytona 500.
"We've come so close here at Daytona so many times, but it seems we've got bitten too many times or caught up in wrecks," said Nemechek, a 34-year-old native of Lakeland, Fla. "This is a brand new car, we call it 'Speedy Gonzalez,' we tested it twice and it's awful fast. Mike (McLaughlin) beat us to the pole, but we won the race, that pays more money. "
Nemechek dominated the race, leading an event record 105 of the 120 laps in the BellSouth Mobility Chevrolet. He captured the lead from McLaughlin on lap seven and led through lap 78, when he pitted, allowing Jeff Burton and Jimmy Spencer to lead briefly. Nemechek led the final 34 laps, holding off a pack of cars on four restarts after late caution flags.
"Jeff Purvis ran me tough at the end," Nemechek said. "He was doing everything he could to get by, but I didn't want to let him by."
Purvis finished second, .178 seconds behind, followed by Mark Martin, Buckshot Jones and defending race champion Randy LaJoie.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was involved late in the race in the most spectacular incident of the day, with sprint car champion Dave Blaney. Indy Racing League titlist Tony Stewart, Larry Pearson and Dick Trickle were among the other drivers caught up in incidents late in the race. The six caution periods slowed Nemechek's winning average speed to 137.213 mph.
Nemechek will be seeking to become the fourth driver to win both the NAPA Auto Parts 300 and Daytona 500 in the same year, with the feat most recently being accomplished by Darrell Waltrip in 1989.
However, he faces tough challenges from Dale Earnhardt, seeking to win his first Daytona 500; defending race winner Jeff Gordon; front row starters Bobby and Terry Labonte; and two-time Daytona 500 winner Sterling Marlin, who won a Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Race on Thursday.
"My Winston Cup car isn't the fastest car here," Nemechek admitted. "My main goal is to get to the front after starting 28th, and make sure we finish the race. I'm real excited about the Daytona 500"
The Daytona 500 will be televised live on CBS and broadcast by the Motor Racing Network family of affiliates. The scheduled green flag time is 12:15 p.m.