BEING A CHASE LONGSHOT FRUSTRATES NEMECHEK RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 6, 2005) -- Heading into the final race before the Chase for the Nextel Cup begins,no one has to tell Joe Nemechek that the odds are heavily stacked against him to gaina berth in the ...
BEING A CHASE LONGSHOT FRUSTRATES NEMECHEK
RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 6, 2005) -- Heading into the final race before the Chase for the Nextel Cup begins,no one has to tell Joe Nemechek that the odds are heavily stacked against him to gaina berth in the 10-race championship showdown.
"At least I have odds," says the driver of the 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet.
Nemechek is right about having odds. His current standing position of 16thmakes him the last driver in points who has a mathematicalchance of making the Chase as the Nextel Cup Series heads to Richmond International Raceway for Saturday night'sChevrolet Rock & Roll 400.
For the record, Nemechek has 2,794 points, 135 from the 10th and final spot to make the Chase.
The more Nemechek answers questions about the Chase, the more his memory kicks in to the "what ifs" and "should've beens."
"It's frustrating answering questions aboutbeing in position tomake the Chase,"said Nemechek, who won in Richmond at the 2003 spring race. "The waythe Army team has run this year, we shouldn't even be talking about this because we should be locked into the Chase right now."
Nemechek has seen a strong run spoiled in at least a dozen races due to varying reasons such as cut tires, getting clipped fromevery direction, or flying debris putting a hole in the radiator. You name a misfortune, the 01 Army team has probably experienced it this season.
"Being so close to the Chase tells us that we have reached another level andthe talent and resources are definitely available at MB2 Motorsportsto run with the best," said Nemechek. "I keep on saying -- just give us the finishes we deserved in California in February and Atlanta (in March) and we would be sitting comfortably in the Chase."
An engine failure with 70 laps remaining sent Nemechek from being in the lead to 39th place at California Speedway in February.
In Atlanta, he was running in the top five before flying debris put a hole in the car's radiator with fewer than 50 laps remaining. He ended up finishing 35th.
The two races cost Nemechek more than the 135 points that currently separate him from being in the top 10.
"We're not even asking for the Charlotte race back where we were leading until I ran over debris and got a flat tire with eight laps remaining," said Nemechek.
To make or not make the Chase, will not alter the competitiveness of Nemechek and the U.S. Army Team.
"We're going to race just as hard in the final 10 races as we have in the first 26," offered Nemechek. "Finishing 11th in the final standings carries a $1 million post-season bonus and that is something to shoot for. And I truly believe that this Army team has the talent to finish 11th.
Nemechek has been gaining. He has finished in the top 10 in three of the last four races. The non-top-10 finish during the four-race stretch was 12th at Bristol Motor Speedway.
"We have momentum and need to build on it," said Nemechek.