Talladega: Joe Nemechek race report

Racing Luck Not On Nemechek's side; U.S. Army Driver Finishess 2nd in Talladega TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 25, 2004) -- The late-race curse that plagued Joe Nemechek at the past two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup events, continued Sunday in the Aaron's 499 here...

Racing Luck Not On Nemechek's side; U.S. Army Driver Finishess 2nd in Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 25, 2004) -- The late-race curse that plagued Joe Nemechek at the past two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup events, continued Sunday in the Aaron's 499 here at Talladega Superspeedway.

While running up front for the majority of the restrictor-plate competition, Nemechek's day came to an abrupt halt on lap 146 of 188 when an internal malfunction to his No. 01 U.S. Army/USG Chevrolet forced him to retire from the race. He was credited with as2nd-place finish.

"All of sudden the car started to overheat," said Nemechek, who was running in the top 10 when the problem occurred. "We're not sure if debris put a hole through the radiator or if we had something go wrong internally. What I do knowis that it's a shamewe couldn't finish the race because we had a top-five car today."

The power of Nemechek's black and gold Chevy was visibly evident during a five-lap stretch when he went from the rear of the field (38th) to the top 10. The reason Nemechek was running at the back of the pack for a brief time was due to an unscheduled pit stop on lap 53 to replacea flat tire.

"I must admit, making up that much ground in five laps was pretty impressive," said Nemechek. "That just goes to show you how much horsepower I had today. I commend Ryan (crew chief Ryan Pemberton) and the crew. They sure deserved a much better fate."

Though he was frustrated with what happened, Nemechek also had mixed feelings as he was leaving the race track.

"Yeah, I'm frustrated, but on the other hand we had a great machine all weekend and you can't help but feel proud for how hard this U.S. Army team has worked," said Nemechek, who qualified fourth. "We're in one of those bad-luck phases and just need to work ourselves through it. We've all been there and know that it will turn in our favor. There's too much talent on this team for it not to."

At the last two Nextel Cup events, Nemechek saw strong finishes spoiled with late-race problems. Abroken spark plug was the culprit in Texas (Oct. 4) and atlast week's race in Martinsville, Va. he got spun out.

Nemechek and the Army of One team will be looking to snap that curse in next week's raceat California Speedway in Fontana.

-mb2-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Joe Nemechek