Q: Who was the first NASCAR Cup pole winner at California Speedway? A: Joe Nemechek, June 22, 1997. It was also Nemechek's first of six career Cup poles. Despite Bad Breaks, Nemechek Still has Plenty of Staying Power FONTANA, Calif. (April...
Q: Who was the first NASCAR Cup pole winner at California Speedway?
A: Joe Nemechek, June 22, 1997. It was also Nemechek's first of six career Cup poles.
Despite Bad Breaks, Nemechek Still has Plenty of Staying Power
FONTANA, Calif. (April 27, 2004) -- It's not a pleasant feeling for what Joe Nemechek is currently going through. But the veteran U.S. Army driver has been there before and knows that only time, grit and patience will solve his problem.
And since time is of the essence, especially in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver point standings, Nemechek is hoping that this weekend's Auto Club 500 at California Speedway will be the event that he breaks out of the dreaded "Bad Luck Phase" that has been hampering his recent performances.
"At the last three races the Army cars were excellent, but the performances didn't translate into the results that I felt we deserved," said Nemechek, who dropped to 19th in driver points. "I've been through these (bad luck) streaks before and believe me it does test your staying power.But no matter how frustrating or discouraging the incidents have been, the only thing you can do is to keep battling, and eventually the tide will turn."
Speaking of a turning tide, Nemechek has every right to feel confident as he heads to the West Coast. The U.S. Army/USG Chevrolet that he will have in California is the same car that he enjoyed a solid run with at Texas Motor Speedway until a spark plug broke late in the race.
"I am convinced we would have had at least a third-place finish in Texas had we not had the spark plug problem," explained Nemechek. "That's a great racecar that we'll be bringing to California."
The Texas race (April 4) started the bad-luck streak for the Army team. At the next event in Martinsville, Va., Nemechek was looking at a possible top-10 finish but that went south when he got spun out as the race was winding down.
During Sunday's competition at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, the No. 01 U.S. Army Chevy was a missile as it ran up front for the majority of the event. But on lap 146 of 188, an over heating problem forced Nemechek to retire from the race with a 32nd place finish.
"It's too depressing to figure out how many (driver) points we left on the table at the last three races," said Nemechek. "I know it's a lot.But a good (baseball) hitter doesn't stay in a slump forever. And we're a good team -- it's just a matter of time before we snap out of this."