Michigan: Joe Nemechek preview

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 16, 2004) - Based on the U.S. Army car that he will have at Michigan International Speedway this weekend, Nemechek has every right to feel optimistic on his chances in the DHL 400. "I'm expecting good things in both ...

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 16, 2004) - Based on the U.S. Army car that he will have at Michigan International Speedway this weekend, Nemechek has every right to feel optimistic on his chances in the DHL 400.

"I'm expecting good things in both qualifying and in the race," said Nemechek.

Nemechek's Michigan car will be the same U.S. Army/USG Chevrolet that he drove in the Texas and California races earlier in the year. He qualified fourth in Texas, second in California and the only thing that kept him from having excellent finishes at each race was some bad luck.

"We had an easy top five in Texas until the spark plug broke late in the race and in California we were looking at a top 10, but ran out of fuel with two laps remaining," explained Nemechek.

For the record, Nemechek finished 14th in Texas and 28th in California.

"I'll tell you what, if that black cloud that's been trailing us lately finds another car to whammy, we should have a pretty good run in Michigan," offered Nemechek. "We need to start a positive streak. Once that happens I am confident they will come in bunches."

The U.S. Army team is hoping that black cloud might be moving in a different direction after what happened in Pocono last week.

Nemechek finished 18th in the Pocono 500 -- a so-so finish when just looking at the result. But considering what happened to the team during the 200-lap event, it was quite remarkable, to say the least, that the 01 car even finished the race, and on the lead lap to boot.

On Lap 86 of 200, the transmission broke in the Army car, leaving Nemechek with only third gear for the final 114 laps.

"I thought it was a feat to just finish the race after what we went through in Pocono," said Nemechek. "By rights, the broken transmission should not have run for 285 miles -- maybe 50 or 60, but not 285."

Crew chief Ryan Pemberton said it was a combination of crew and driver that allowed the team to finish the race.

"This was truly a team effort and because of that effort and the experience of the crew, we survived a very difficult set of circumstances in Pocono," said Pemberton. "At another time, a setback like this could have put us five laps down. A lot of credit goes to Joe, who did a brilliant driving job in keeping the engine from blowing up."

It should be noted that Nemechek started the Pocono race third and led the first 10 laps. And before the transmission breakage, the Army car was one of the fastest on the track.

"There are two ways to look at what happened in Pocono," said Nemechek. "Did the bad luck continue because of the transmission problem, or was our luck starting to change because we were able to finish the race with a decent result? Obviously, I am hoping for the latter. I guess we'll find out the answer late Sunday afternoon in Michigan."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Joe Nemechek