It's the Weekend that Nemechek Wants to Shine in Army Car CONCORD, N.C. (May 23, 2006) -- If he has an extra bounce in his step ora more intense race-day face or just beaming with pride, it's because Nemechek truly understands the significance...
It's the Weekend that Nemechek Wants to Shine in Army Car
CONCORD, N.C. (May 23, 2006) -- If he has an extra bounce in his step ora more intense race-day face or just beaming with pride, it's because Nemechek truly understands the significance and the role he plays in this weekend's Nextel Cup race.
"When you compete in the U.S. Army car on Memorial Day weekend, the adrenaline flows faster and you carry additional pride," said Nemechek. "We came close to victory last year at this race and we will be just as aggressive this time around."
It's hard for Nemechek to forget about how close he actually came to Victory Lane in last year's Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte. His Army Chevrolet was checked out with a comfortable lead on the 1.5-mile oval. But with eight laps remaining, the 01 car cut a right-rear tire,ending any hopes of claiming the win.J "I want nothing more than to put on another strong performance to honor our soldiers who gave their lives for freedom and to our soldiers who are protecting freedom at home and abroad," offered Nemechek. "They are my heroes and I want to give them something to be proud of in return, especially at our Memorial Day race."
Winning NASCAR's longest race of the season (400 laps, 600 miles) will not be the easiest task for any of the 43 drivers, who will be competing on the newly-paved track surface at Lowe's with a harder Goodyear tire and a smaller fuel cell (from 22 gallons to 14 gallons).
"Last week's All-Star race gave all of us some additional testing," said Nemechek. "I felt our Army team was coming around and getting a better handle on the track and the Goodyear tire. The 600 is all about patience and taking care of your equipment.I also feel that pit strategy is going to play a vital role this weekend. And if that's the case, I am even more confident." J When asked about the new Goodyear tire for the Lowe's track, Nemechek's crew chief, Ryan Pemberton, said, "The tire is so hard that it's one step below concrete."
Pemberton also sees a different kind of pit strategy for Sunday's race.
"When we pitted last year at this race, the tires were the main reason, not fuel," explained Pemberton. "It will be completely different this year. The harder tires will last longer, but you're going to have to pit on almost every caution because of the smaller fuel cell. You don't want to get caught by skipping a stop and then have a long green-flag run. If that happens, you'll be forced to pit for fuel, which will put you a lap down."
Pemberton definitely knows about pit strategy. His pit road calls late in the race put Nemechek in position to challenge for the win at the last three races at Lowe's Motor Speedway. In the 2004 fall race, Nemechek finished fifth, and in last year's races at Lowe's, he nearly won the spring race and finished fourth in the fall.
"I feel a whole lot better knowing that Ryan is on the Army pit box making the calls," said Nemechek.