Nemechek Ranks As One of The Best Since Beginning of Chase MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Oct. 19, 2004) - Since the Chase for the Nextel Cup began five races ago, one of the hottest drivers has been Joe Nemechek. Though he is not part of NASCAR's...
Nemechek Ranks As One of The Best Since Beginning of Chase
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Oct. 19, 2004) - Since the Chase for the Nextel Cup began five races ago, one of the hottest drivers has been Joe Nemechek.
Though he is not part of NASCAR's newly-created championship format, the U.S. Army driver has achieved one of the best driving performances during this five-race period with one win, two top fives, four top 10s and two poles. The one blemish was a 35th-place finish in Dover -- due to a caved-in grill which caused the engine to overheat.
If Nemechek were part of the 10-driver Chase, he would be tied for fifth with 704 points, 22 fewer than Jeff Gordon, who is currently third.
"That pretty much says how strong this U.S. Army/USG team has been running as of late," said Nemechek. "We've been hanging around with some good company. We're on a roll and having plenty of fun."
The highlight for Nemechek during this span of five races was the weekend at Kansas Speedway (Oct. 8-10) when he became the first driver in NASCAR history to win the Cup pole along with sweeping the Busch and Cup races.
There have also been some personal bests for the Lakeland, Fla. native. By qualifying No. 1 at Talladega and Kansas, it was the first time Nemechek claimed back-to-back poles. His finishes at the last two races - fifth (Charlotte) and first (Kansas) - marked the first time he posted back-to-back top fives. His more than $3 million in season prize money is a career high.
Nemechek's record in the last five races has moved him from 25th to 19th in the Nextel Cup driver point standings.
"Make no mistake, this is not a surprise to our Army of One team," said Nemechek. "We've been knocking at the door all year, but never could get those finishes to go along with our strong performances. Something would always seem to happen. But recently, things have been going our way.
"What is gratifying is to see all of the guys being rewarded with this success. I've always said I am surrounded by a talented group of people who possess an excellent work ethic."
As Nemechek heads to Martinsville Speedway for Sunday's (Oct. 24) short track event, he is totally focused on continuing the momentum with five races remaining in the 2004 Nextel Cup schedule.
"The past is the past, our concentration and awareness are on the present," explained Nemechek. "Martinsville is not an easy race -- so many things can happen there. You can have the best car and come away with nothing. The race is all about having a good handling car, good brakes and a lot of good luck. I guess that pretty much sums up short track racing."
One of Nemechek's eight career poles came at Martinsville in October of 1999.