FIRST LAP INCIDENT COSTLY FOR NEMECHEK IN DAYTONA 500 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 19, 2006) -- Before one lap was even completed in Sunday's Daytona 500, Joe Nemechek was the victim of another driver's problem. "What's frustrating is that we...
FIRST LAP INCIDENT COSTLY FOR NEMECHEK IN DAYTONA 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 19, 2006) -- Before one lap was even completed in Sunday's Daytona 500, Joe Nemechek was the victim of another driver's problem.
"What's frustrating is that we had a good car, but never had the opportunity to be a challenger," said Nemechek, who was credited with a 33rd-place finish in the Nextel Cup season opener.
As the 43-car starting field was rounding Turn 3 on the first lap at Daytona International Speedway, Jeff Green suffered a cut tire. A few seconds later, Green's tire came apart and the flying tread tore through the front-end of Nemechek's 01 Army car, causing severe body damage.
"We were not only aerodynamically handicapped from that point, we also lost the draft and there were 199 laps remaining," explained Nemechek. "You talk about your worst nightmare -- that was it."
The incident forced Nemechek to come down pit road a number of times as the Army of One crew worked valiantly to repair the damage.
But as the race wore on during the misty afternoon at the 2.5-mile tri-oval, the problems only got worse for the 01 team. Nemechek once again found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. On Lap 79, he got collected in a multicar wreck that was started when Green's No. 66 car spun out.
"Before that incident, we still had some hope of getting the Army car fixed and back in the hunt," said Nemechek. "But when I made contact with Green's out-of-control car, I thought we were done for the day and ready to load the car into the hauler. We had significant damage."
Though Nemechek's black and gold Army car looked like it was ready for the junkyard, the Army team refused to throw in the towel.
"Ryan (crew chief Ryan Pemberton) and the pit crew were absolutely awesome," said Nemechek. "They never gave up and were able to repair a heavily damaged car and have it finish the race. I was very impressed and very proud of each and every one of the guys. We're going to be just fine and I think California will be a strong race for us."
Nemechek was referring to the second of the 36-race Nextel Cup schedule, Sunday (Feb. 26) at California Speedway in Fontana.