This Week in Ford Racing February 19, 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Joe Nemechek, driver of the No. 26 Kmart School Spirit Taurus, will be trying to make it two straight wins at the North Carolina Speedway. Nemechek captured the second win of...
This Week in Ford Racing
February 19, 2002
NASCAR Winston Cup Series
Joe Nemechek, driver of the No. 26 Kmart School Spirit Taurus, will be trying to make it two straight wins at the North Carolina Speedway. Nemechek captured the second win of his NASCAR Winston Cup career last fall when he led five times for a race-high 196 laps in the Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400. Nemechek spoke about returning to the site of his latest triumph.
JOE NEMECHEK --26-- Kmart School Spirit Taurus
YOU MUST BE LOOKING FORWARD TO GOING BACK TO ROCKINGHAM. "Absolutely. We had a wonderful race the last time we were there and we've been working really hard on our Rockingham car, so, hopefully, it'll be just as good as the last one I was in."
YOU LED FOR STRETCHES OF 32, 44, 55 AND 60 LAPS IN THE FALL, SO IT APPEARS THE KEY IS GETTING THE CAR CONSISTENT FOR LONG RUNS. "That is the key. You've got to have tire management and you've got to know that you cannot abuse your tires. The setup on the race car is premium and you've got to have a very forgiving setup."
YOU WON AT NEW HAMPSHIRE TWO YEARS AGO, BUT WAS YOUR WIN AT ROCKINGHAM THE MOST DOMINANT YOU HAVE BEEN IN A CUP CAR? "Yes, that was the most dominant I've ever been in a Winston Cup car. We had been good on occasion and won that race in '99 at Loudon, but when we won there it was because we were good at the end of the run and had a lot of circumstances go our way. We worked really hard for the race at Rockingham and all you need to do is look at the number of laps we led and how fast we were on the race track to prove that point."
WILL YOU TRY TO PUT THE SETUP FROM THAT CHEVROLET INTO YOUR FORD AT SOME POINT THIS WEEKEND? "We'll try some of the same things we did in that car. I'm learning that there are some little differences between the bodies of a Chevrolet and a Ford. The chassis that they use at the 33 are different from what they use at the 26, so there are just a lot of different variables that go into that. A lot of it is just going by the seat of your pants. You have to feel what the race car is doing and try to give good input to the crew so, hopefully, you hit on the right thing."
IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE GOING FROM DAYTONA, WHICH IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST RACES OF THE YEAR, TO ROCKINGHAM? "Rockingham may not be like Daytona, but it still pays the same amount of points and everything else as Daytona. The purse isn't as large, but it's still a points paying race and you've got to do the best you can in each one of those. If you can just win a Winston Cup race you've accomplished something. It is so difficult to win Winston Cup races because the competition is so tough out there. You've got to be on top of it all the time."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS COMING OFF OF DAYTONA BECAUSE YOU WERE INVOLVED IN THAT MULTI-CAR WRECK. "Hopefully we won't have the wreckfest like we had down in Daytona. Rockingham is the kind of race that pays off for whoever has the best tire management and a good chassis setup. You're always searching for grip at Rockingham. The fast way around is right around the bottom. You can move up the race track and once the tires get older you pretty much have to move up to keep from spinning the tires so bad. The problem is that towards the end of the run everybody runs up high and it's hard to pass when you're all up high."
LAST WEEK IT WAS ABOUT DRAG. WILL THIS WEEK BE PRIMARILY ABOUT DOWNFORCE? "I'm sure you'll hear a lot about that because downforce is a big part of how these race cars stick to the track. This will be my first non-restrictor plate race in a Ford, so I'm looking forward to it. I don't know how everything is gonna go, but I hope it all goes well."