Spotter's Role Heightens at Bristol BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 23, 2004) -- When U.S. Army driver Joe Nemechek navigates his way through the maze of cars on the high-banked, half-mile oval at Bristol Motor Speedway, he will largely depend on ...
Spotter's Role Heightens at Bristol
BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 23, 2004) -- When U.S. Army driver Joe Nemechek navigates his way through the maze of cars on the high-banked, half-mile oval at Bristol Motor Speedway, he will largely depend on Roman Pemberton, the team's spotter, who will be perched on top of the stadium-like facility for Sunday's Food City 500.
Pemberton, 31, the younger brother to the team's crew chief Ryan Pemberton, will be Nemechek's eyes in the sky during the 500-lap event that normally resembles a demolition derby style of race, resulting in more sheet metal carnage at the end of the day than at the local junkyard.
"I definitely wouldn't want to be a spotter in Bristol," said Nemechek. "Roman will have his work cut out for him there. Bristol is a busier place than normal because of the wrecks and the spotter has to instantly relay to the driver where the safe zones are."
Pemberton's spotting duties will not be confined to just being a traffic cop on Sunday and directing Nemechek around the .533-mile track. His knowledge of the racecar will also play a vital role in determining what kind of pit road adjustments will be needed for the No. 01 U.S. Army/USG Chevrolet.
"Bristol is so busy and noisy that I hardly get a word in during the race," said Ryan Pemberton. "Roman is up high and sees the race unfolding and the information he feeds to Joe and me will help us in making the right calls on pit road. Roman's knowledge of the car and racing in general are big pluses for the Army team."
While it is felt by many that the Bristol races are the most difficult place to spot, Roman Pemberton has a different take on NASCAR's most popular venue.
"The biggest misconception is that Bristol is the hardest place to spot at," said Pemberton, who has spotted for 32 drivers in the last 15 years. "From my standpoint, Bristol is not the most difficult to spot because everyone is running at the same speed, which makes it a lot easier to follow the problems when a car is out of control.
"Also, when you see a hole for your driver to get into at Bristol, you're confident there will be enough space. Gaps don't close up quickly there like they do at other tracks like Rockingham and Darlington."
When it comes to the driver/spotter relationship, Pemberton and Nemechek both agree that it's the driver who is ultimately responsible for the car.
"The spotter constantly feeds me information and it's my job to apply it," said Nemechek. "I am the one in the end who knows where the car needs to be."
"No question, the driver is in control," said Pemberton, who is a suspension expert during the week at the team shop in Concord, N.C. "He is the one who turns the wheel and he is the one who pushes the pedal. It's at his control. But on the other hand, the driver has to believe in the spotter, not 90 percent, but 100 percent."
That's not a problem for Nemechek.
"The spotter's job is so important that it is crucial for the driver to have trust in him," explained Nemechek. "For me, I have all the confidence in Roman -- he's a good spotter and has done a great job this year. He is knowledgeable, dedicated and committed 0x2022 all of the ingredients it takes to be a quality spotter. "
Bristol Race Notes/Quotes:
* Nemechek enters the Food City 500 in 14th place in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver point standings. He has had finishes of sixth (Daytona), 24th (Rockingham), 19th (Las Vegas), 15th (Atlanta) and 20th (Darlington).
* Nemechek has started 18 races at Bristol 0x2022 his best finish was 16th 0x2022 at the spring race in 1994 and at the fall race in 1995.
* Nemechek will also be competing in Saturday's Busch race 0x2022 driving the No. 87 CellularOne Chevrolet.
Nemechek on Bristol:
"It has always been a pretty tough race. It's short-track racing 0x2022 when things happen it usually takes out more than one car. The biggest thing at Bristol is to have a good-driving car. If the car drives well, then you can keep going, going, going and eventually get to the front. There's also a huge luck factor at Bristol. You can have a great car and somebody can make a dumb mistake and all of sudden you're in the middle of it 0x2022 your fenders are gone and it could make for a long day."