TALLADEGA, Ala. (Sept. 27, 2004) - Though he calls Talladega Superspeedway a cerebral race with plenty of stress, Joe Nemechek is confidently looking forward to competing at the big track in this weekend's EA Sports 500. "When you're going to...
TALLADEGA, Ala. (Sept. 27, 2004) - Though he calls Talladega Superspeedway a cerebral race with plenty of stress, Joe Nemechek is confidently looking forward to competing at the big track in this weekend's EA Sports 500.
"When you're going to a restrictor-plate race with a MB2 Motorsports prepared car that is overseen by (crew chief) Ryan Pemberton, you have every right to feel confident," explained Nemechek. "This team has always had an excellent plate program and I'm happy that I am now part of it."
The first thing on Nemechek's mind as he prepares for the 2.66-mile oval is to capture the pole in his No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet during Friday's qualifying session.
"We have not won a pole this year and we're running out of time," said Nemechek. "We've had a couple of outside poles and started fourth in the spring race at Talladega, but we never got to wear the Bud Pole hat...yet.
"I understand that it doesn't make much difference where you start this race from, but taking the pole will mean a lot to the team, and of course, give us a berth in next year's prestigious Bud Shootout."
Two of Nemechek's six career poles have come at Talladega - both at the October race in 1999 and 2000.
"I guess you can say I know what it takes to win a pole at Talladega and hopefully that experience will come into play during qualifying," said Nemechek, known as Front Row Joe.
Nemechek will also depend on experience for Sunday's 188-lap, 500-mile race on the ultra-fast track.
"Talladega is one of the toughest races on your brain," offered Nemechek. "You not only have to know where you are positioned on the track at all times, you must also know who is around you, who's having trouble and what lines drivers are using to gain an advantage.
"You have to learn who you can draft with and who you can't draft with. It's also important to know what drafting combinations are working for other teams. You're constantly thinking and listening to your spotter - it's like chess -- figuring out the next strategic move. This goes on basically non-stop for 3-4 hours and you can't let your guard down for an instant or you'll get shuffled to the back of the field. It's a very stressful time, but it's also plenty of fun."
At the previous Talladega race in April, Nemechek had the U.S. Army/USG Chevy running up front for the majority of the race. But on Lap 146 of 188, his engine started to overheat and he was forced to retire from the race with a 32nd-place finish.
Nemechek's best result at Talladega was third in October of 2000, the same race where he started from the pole.
At the two Daytona restrictor plate races this season - Nemechek posted top 10s in each - sixth in February's Daytona 500 and 10th in July's night race.
"We have good superspeedway data and it's up to us to make sure we take advantage of it," commented Nemechek.