Atlanta II: Joe Nemechek race report

ATLANTA (Oct. 27, 2003) -- Joe Nemechek made an inspiring debut in the No. 01 U.S. Army Pontiac, posting a 10th-place finish in the rain-delayed Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Nemechek, who qualified eighth but fell back to...

ATLANTA (Oct. 27, 2003) -- Joe Nemechek made an inspiring debut in the No. 01 U.S. Army Pontiac, posting a 10th-place finish in the rain-delayed Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Nemechek, who qualified eighth but fell back to 39th place before the race was called on lap 39 Sunday, came out smoking Monday morning when the race was resumed. He quickly gained on the field and by lap 105 of 325 he was running in the top 10.

"Considering where we started the day from I'll take a top 10 finish," said Nemechek. "We missed the setup yesterday, but the adjustments we made just before the race was halted proved to be the right ones. After two laps today I knew we were heading to the front. The car handled so much better."

The U.S. Army team took advantage of a break during Monday's first round of pit stops. As a number of teams were making green-flag stops, Nemechek wasn't yet ready to pit, and fortunately for him and the Army team, a caution came out. The result of pitting during a caution shot Nemechek from 22nd to seventhplace.

"We had some luck on our side today, but the Army Pontiac was pretty solid," said Nemechek. "It seemedlike the middle part of a run our car was exceptional to other cars out there."

Once he got into the top 10, Nemechek stayed there until a loose left rear wheel caused him to fall all the way back to 21st place on lap 223. But once the problem was fixed, Nemechek stood on the gas and charged back to the front.

"I'm here to fill in a piece of the puzzle," said Nemechek, who ran as high as fifth. "And if they keep giving me cars like this we'll be running in the front."

"These guys are easy-going but at the same time they're very smart and get the job done. To finish with a top 10 with a new team is a healthy sign and hopefully this is a start of many more good results for the U.S. Army team."

"Today showed what this team is capable of and what Joe is capable of," said crew chief Ryan Pemberton. "It was a positive start and it gives us something to build on."

The next stop for Nemechek and the U.S. Army team will be Sunday in Phoenix for the Checker Auto Parts 500.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Joe Nemechek