Nemechek Can't Curb His Enthusiasm DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2005) -- At no time in Joe Nemechek's career has he entered a new season with as much anticipation, self assurance and enthusiasm as he currently feels for the 2005 Nextel ...
Nemechek Can't Curb His Enthusiasm
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2005) -- At no time in Joe Nemechek's career has he entered a new season with as much anticipation, self assurance and enthusiasm as he currently feels for the 2005 Nextel Cup campaign.
The buoyant feeling, which Nemechek admits is hard to put a self restraint on, stems from a number of factors -- the way he finished the 2004 season, how his No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet performed in preseason testing and the mutual respect he shares with his team at MB2 Motorsports.
"I understand that you need to keep your emotions in check," said Nemechek, a 12-year NASCAR Cup veteran. "But at times that feeling of eagerness is tough to hold back and I have to keep on reminding myself to stay cool."
Nemechek's run during the final 10 races of 2004 included one win, three top fives, six top 10s and two poles. He ranked seventh in driver points during the 10-race homestretch.
Nemechek and the U.S. Army team will be looking for similar results during the 11 days at Daytona which include the Bud Shootout (Saturday night, Feb. 12), Daytona 500 Pole Day (Feb. 13), Gatorade Duel 150 qualifying race (Thursday afternoon, Feb. 17) and the Daytona 500 (Feb. 20).
"We need to keep that momentum going," offered Nemechek. "There are so many variables in this sport that can throw you sideways and backwards. But I do know this -- we will be good with what we have control over."
Judging from how Nemechek performed in preseason testing on Daytona's 2.5-mile tri-oval it appears the Army Chevy hasn't lost its edge.
"We were fast at the Daytona test with the same car we sat on the pole with at Talladega last fall," recalled Nemechek. "It's a proven thoroughbred and that's why it will be our primary car in Daytona. Our new Chevy, which was equally fast in testing, will be the Bud Shootout car."
Speaking about running fast, Nemechek knows the potential is there for him to make a strong statement in the Daytona 500. He claimed three top-10 finishes at the four superspeedway races last year, including a sixth-place result in the Daytona 500. His superspeedway qualifying average in 2004 was 4.75.
"We have a shot at the pole and being one of the top cars in the race," said Nemechek. "Everything is in place and it's now up to us to go out there and get the job done."
For Nemechek, continuing with the Army/MB2 team marks the first time in his career that he has returned to the same team that he had won a race with in the previous season. Nemechek, who has four career wins, joined the 01 team with four races remaining in 2003.
"I am in the best situation I've ever been in," commented Nemechek, a Lakeland, Fla. native. "When you have continuity and are settled in with an organization, you can focus your energies on making the car go fast and being competitive week in and week out."
Nemechek is hoping the MB2 team chemistry will produce results that will give the troops -- home and abroad -- something to cheer about.
"Following our victory in Kansas (last October), an Army general who had just gotten back from Iraq told me there was a buzz about the win over there and how proud everyone was," said Nemechek. "I would like to increase that buzz with a win at Daytona. This Army sponsorship is awesome and I want the troops to be proud of the team. This is their car and they deserve to have it running up front."
Four Poles at Superspeedways...
Front Row Joe knows what it's liketo be on the pole for a superspeedway race. Nemechek captured the No. 1 qualifying spot on the big tracks four times -- three at Talladega and once at Daytona (July race, 1999).
"Qualifying at the superspeedways is all about the car and motor," explained Nemechek. "The guys at the shop have done a terrific job in the construction of the cars and Hendrick Engines give us the big horsepower. It's been a great combination and that's why I keep on saying this Army team has a bright future."
Fourth Appearance in Bud Shootout...
Nemechek earned his berth into Saturday night's (Feb. 12) Bud Shootout by claiming the pole at Talladega and Kansas last year. This will be his fourth appearance in the Shootout.
"When you're in the Bud Shootout it means you're playing on the big field with the big cats," said Nemechek. "The event is one of the most entertaining races of the season. This isanybody's race -- you just have to make sure you'rein the right position forthe wild ride in the final few laps."