Loudon: Joe Nemechek preview

LOUDON, N.H. (July 19, 2004 ) - Coming off back-to-back top-10 finishes, Joe Nemechek couldn't ask for a better place than New Hampshire International Speedway (NHIS) to continue his momentum in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. ...

LOUDON, N.H. (July 19, 2004 ) - Coming off back-to-back top-10 finishes, Joe Nemechek couldn't ask for a better place than New Hampshire International Speedway (NHIS) to continue his momentum in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

NHIS, site of Sunday's Siemens 300, will forever carry a special fondness for the U.S. Army/USG driver. It was at this New England facility where Nemechek captured his first NASCAR Cup victory when he led the field to the checkered flag at the 1999 fall event.

"I like the facility and feel comfortable on the track," said Nemechek. "I have to be honest, each time I roll into the New Hampshire track, I do get a flashback of that wonderful moment of winning my first Cup race and jumping out of my car in Victory Lane. You work hard for so many years for something like this to happen, and when it does, it's an exhilarating feeling that is hard to explain."

Aside from claiming his first Cup victory at NHIS, Nemechek's highlights at the 1.058-mile oval include a hair-raising Busch win over the late Dale Earnhardt in August of 1992.

"It was a last lap win that is still being talked about in New Hampshire," recalled Nemechek, who won the 1992 Busch season championship. "I was leading and Dale was beating the back bumper off my car and turned me sideways going into Turn 3. But I got back on the gas, saved the car from hitting the wall and ended up winning by a fender. It was exciting and something that I will never forget. Beating Dale in that race had a big impact for me in getting noticed by Cup teams."

With his past successes at NHIS that also included a runner-up Cup finish in the 2000 summer race and a third-place result in last fall's event, Nemechek has a good feeling heading into this weekend's action.

"I don't see any reason why the U.S. Army/USG Chevrolet shouldn't have another competitive result," stated Nemechek, whose last two Cup races produced a 10th-place finish in Daytona and eighth in Chicago. "This team has always been a spirited group with plenty of confidence and talent. Right now, I feel we're on our way to realizing the potential that all of us on the inside knew existed. We're energized and full of optimism - it's a lot of fun to be part of this team."

Crew chief Ryan Pemberton is on the same page as his driver.

"Finishing in the top 10 two weeks in a row is nothing to get overly excited about," explained Pemberton. "But the way things were going for us, those two finishes just reinforced the positives that we all felt about this team. No question, those two results were a lift that we needed at the time, but that's in the past. We need to go out there and continue to be competitive every week. Our goal is to win, and until we get there, we won't be completely satisfied."

Sunday's race marks the beginning of the second half of the 36-race Nextel Cup schedule. "With two top-10 finishes in a row, our second half of the season has already begun," offered Nemechek.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Joe Nemechek