Daytona 500: Nemechek "Speedweeks" preview

"We're going to bring plenty of armor for the Daytona marathon. The Army Chevys are going to be beefed up to keep pace with the ongoing bumping and grinding at these superspeedway races. We're not holding back anything --we're going for it....

"We're going to bring plenty of armor for the Daytona marathon. The Army Chevys are going to be beefed up to keep pace with the ongoing bumping and grinding at these superspeedway races. We're not holding back anything --we're going for it. Whether it's the Shootout, Pole Day, the 150 qualifying race or the 500, we're going to be aggressive. There's no other way to attack Daytona."
    Joe Nemechek, driver of the 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet and only native Floridian competing regularly in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.

YOUNG "JOEY" NEMECHEK LIVES OUT HIS DREAM

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 7, 2006) -- For Martha Nemechek, the memories are still vivid. It started in the mid 1970s -- six members of the Nemechek family -- crammed in a station wagon, heading to Daytona Beach to attend NASCAR's biggest race.

The trek from Lakeland, Fla. would eventually become an annual Nemechek family trip.

"We would arrive on Saturday, park near the track and sleep in the car -- all six of us," recalled Martha, matriarch of the Nemechek clan. "My husband (Big Joe) and I took the front seat while the four kids (Marti, Joe, Mark and John) were in the back. It was always a memorable trip. And after every Daytona 500, Joey, who always had an imagination, would tell us that someday he was going to drive one of those cars."

As it turned out it wasn't a figment of his imagination -- Joey kept his promise to his parents and siblings.

That same young Joey is now known to a legion of fans as Joe Nemechek, driver of the No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet. He has not only become a star driver, but Nemechek, who grew up in Lakeland, is the only native Floridian competing regularly in the Nextel Cup Series.

"Daytona is Daytona -- it's big, it's huge -- this is the one we all want to win," said Nemechek referring to the upcoming Feb. 19 Daytona 500. "Being a Florida native makes this race even more special for me."

Nemechek, who finished sixth and 13th respectively in the last two Daytona 500s, enters this year's race in somewhat of a different role. Instead of being the veteran driver at MB2 Motorsports, the 42-year-old Nemechek is now the youngster of the three-team MB2 lineup.

His new full-time teammate at MB2 is Sterling Marlin. And for the Daytona 500, Nemechek and Marlin will be joined by Bill Elliott. Both Marlin (48) and Elliott (50) are two-time winners of the Daytona 500.

"The 500 is going to be a lot of fun with Sterling and Bill as teammates," said Nemechek. "They're two very experienced guys at the big tracks and hopefully we can get hooked up and work the draft. We all had a great test session in Daytona last month and feel the potential is there to make this a special Daytona 500."

Nemechek will also take part in Saturday's (Feb. 11) Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. The 70-lap race on the 2.5-mile tri-oval is an invitational meet for last year's pole winners and past Shootout champions.

"The Budweiser Shootout is a pretty cool event to be part of - it's fun to mix it up with the Big Cats," said Nemechek. "We're in Daytona for a long time and the stay makes it more enjoyable when you get off to a good start."

"We're going to bring plenty of armor for the Daytona marathon," Nemechek continued. "The Army Chevys are going to be beefed up to keep pace with the ongoing bumping and grinding at these superspeedway races. We're not holding back anything --we're going for it. Whether it's the Shootout, Pole Day, the 150 qualifying race or the 500, we're going to be aggressive. There's no other way to attack Daytona."

The 2006 Nextel Cup season opener will begin Nemechek's third full season with the U.S. Army team.

"The pride of driving the Army car is immense," said Nemechek. "I have so much passion for our soldiers. They're my heroes and I want to give them something back in return. A Daytona 500 victory would be a pretty good start."

-mb2-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Joe Nemechek , Sterling Marlin