Fontana II: Joe Nemechek race report

NEMECHEK SALVAGES TOP-10 FINISH IN CALIFORNIA FONTANA, Calif. (Sept. 4, 2005) -- Joe Nemechek and the U.S. Army team persevered Sunday at California Speedway to post a 10th-place finish in the Sony HD 500 Nextel Cup race. The result was ...

NEMECHEK SALVAGES TOP-10 FINISH IN CALIFORNIA

FONTANA, Calif. (Sept. 4, 2005) -- Joe Nemechek and the U.S. Army team persevered Sunday at California Speedway to post a 10th-place finish in the Sony HD 500 Nextel Cup race.

The result was Nemechek's third top-10 in the last four races. His only non top-10 during the four-race stretch was 12th in last week's event at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Nemechek, who moved from 17th to 16th in the driver standings, is the last driver in points who has a mathematical chance of making the Chase for the Nextel Cup with one race remaining.

"It's definitely a long shot," said Nemechek, who is 135 points shy of being in the top 10 and a Chase positon. "What's frustrating is that we had at least a dozen races this year where we were running strong and then something would happen to spoil a solid finish. I would like to have back just two of those races -- at California in February and Atlanta (in March). Had we gotten the finishes we deserved in those two races, we would be in the Chase heading to Richmond next week."

Nemechek was the first to admit that the 10th-place result Sunday looked pretty good considering the struggles he and the Army team endured in the 254-lap overtime race.

"The U.S. Army Chevrolet was wicked tight and a handful to drive for the majority of the race," explained Nemechek. "But we were good soldiers; we fought through the adversity and managed to salvage a decent finish. I am really proud of the guys on this team. They came through in the end with a great pit stop and excellent adjustments."

Nemechek started 22nd and fell back in the pack shortly after the green flag dropped. When the second caution flew on Lap 23 he was in 31st place. The Army of One crew made major adjustments to the 01 car and when the race was restarted Nemechek was running 39th.

"It got ugly for us in the beginning," said Nemechek. "But I had faith in this team. They never lose their poise."

For a brief time, it appeared Nemechek found the right combination for the two-mile oval. He went from 29th to 13th during a green-flag run from Lap 49 to 93.

"That was an excellent and I thought we had it figured out, but the tightness kept on coming back," said Nemechek. "Outside of that run, we struggled for track position."

It wasn't until a final adjustment with 10 laps remaining that got the Army car untracked.

"We were going backwards until that caution came out (on Lap 240)," said Nemechek. "Ryan (Pemberton, crew chief) made a great call to free up the car."

When the race was restarted on Lap 243 Nemechek was in 16th place. Three laps later he cracked the top 10 and stayed there for the remainder of the race, which ended with a green-white-checkered restart.

"Considering what we went through tonight, we'll take the top 10 and head to Richmond," said Nemechek. "We've had pretty good results in the last four races. We need to build on that momentum for the season's homestretch."

-df

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Joe Nemechek