Lewis Takes Former Nemechek Ride To Daytona Double
DAYTONA, Monday, November 5, 2001 -- Time linked past accomplishment, present success and future prospect together beautifully at two of NASCAR's most revered facilities yesterday. In Rockingham, North Carolina Joe Nemechek was driving his #33 Chevrolet Monte Carlo to a hard-fought Winston Cup victory around that ever-daunting oval while Shane Lewis, more known for his skill behind the wheel of a sports car, was doing the same in a former Nemechek ride around Daytona's tricky road course.
Nemechek scored his second career Winston Cup victory while Lewis, of Jupiter, Florida, drove to his first and second Historic Stock Car Racing Association (HSCRA) victories in the Edgar Otto-owned Chevrolet at the series' season-finale in Daytona. While having a great deal of experience in sports car racing, Lewis had never wheeled a NASCAR stock car in competition. It proved ironic that, in his rookie ride in the series, he would drive the #41 Meineke Muffler Chevrolet Lumina that Nemechek completed his rookie season of NASCAR Winston Cup racing in 1993.
The HSCRA is a combination of many of NASCAR's most historic cars and has, like NASCAR itself, become incredibly popular with drivers, teams and fans in recent years. Like most drivers today, Lewis was interested in taking his turn behind the wheel of a high-horsepower, American stock car. Lewis stunned the crowd with his domination of Daytona's victory lane closing-out the series' regular competition. The multi-time IMSA and SCCA race winner, who is a driving coach to Otto, was asked to drive the car at the last moment when the owner returned home to witness the birth of a grandchild. With little preparation time on a busy race weekend, Lewis started the first event -- held on Saturday -- eleventh when rain washed-out qualifying. He would charge to the front of the field taking his first career stock car victory in his inaugural attempt.
Qualifying 20th in the 30-car field made the second stock car race of Lewis' career, held Sunday, even more of a test. The difficult infield road course portion of the track combined with the savagely fast front-straightaway portion -- where the Lumina approached speeds of 190 mph -- proved to be the ultimate balancing act for Lewis as he struggled to conserve the car's tires. Driving to the front, Lewis took the lead on the final lap of the event coming out of Daytona's historic 'Bus Stop Chicane.' Beating both the on-track competition and the battle with his tires, Lewis streaked under the checkered flag just as the man who first put this car through its paces was doing, under similar tire conservation restrictions, in North Carolina at nearly the same time.
"I knew we had to conserve the tires and that is hard to do around the Daytona road course while you are trying to pass 19 guys in cars pretty much identical to your own," reflected Lewis. "I never once spun the tires in the infield and that is not easy here -- Especially in a stock car! We definitely want to send our thanks and congratulations to Edgar (Otto) and his whole family. I feel almost linked to Joe Nemechek now that I have raced and won in the car he drove his rookie races in. It is especially exciting coming on a day that he won his second Cup race. There has to be a good omen in that. I had a blast out there and I hope to get to do a lot more stock car racing in the future. I always knew why the fans loved this style of racing so much because I love to watch it too; but now I know why the drivers love it so much! These cars are an absolute handful to drive but that is what makes them so much fun. Now, I want to get out there and do this in February on the oval."