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Nemechek Takes A Costly Tumble

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 11 2009
Joe Nemecheck crashed but did not burn at Nashville. (RacinToday.com photo by David M. Vaughn)  

Joe Nemecheck crashed but did not burn at Nashville. (RacinToday.com photo by David M. Vaughn)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

GLADEVILLE, Tn. – As a driver/owner with limited sponsorship in NASCAR’s Nationwide and Sprint Cup series, Joe Nemechek has to watch every dollar that’s spent.

On Lap 216 of Saturday’s Nationwide 300 at Nashville Superspeedway, he saw about 60,000 of them go up in a big cloud of dust and smoke. But he raised his stock in the garage and in the grandstands with a remarkable piece of driving after being hit by a driver identified by the Nemechek crew as Ricky Stenhouse Jr,., who was making his first series start.

Nemechek’s Chevy was sent barrel-rolling down the front straightaway. When the car finally landed on four wheels, he was still driving it, still on the throttle, and steering the car away from the outside wall, preventing more damage.

Nemechek drove it around the track and back to his pit stall. But the damage was too severe to continue, so he cranked it up and made the hard left-hand turn into to the garage, where he climbed out and surveyed his battered mount while the rest of the field ran the final five laps with Joey Logano taking the win.

Wearing a plain black firesuit and sipping on a bottle of water, Nemechek looked over and under his wrinkled car, mentally sorting the usable spare parts from the scrap iron.

Friends and crew members from other teams stopped by to commiserate. But that didn’t change the bottom line.

“It’s just terrible,” Nemechek said. “It was a brand new car and it’s killed.”

Pressed by reporters for more details on his spectacular piece of driving, he seemed as surprised as anyone by his wild ride.

“When it got back on wheels, I let off the gas,” he said. “That’s the first time I’ve ever been up like that. I mean that thing popped over quick.”

Nemechek was measured in his comments about what triggered the wreck, saying only that young drivers “need more experience before they get out there.”

The setback, estimated to be as much as $60,000 by former series champion David Green and others, couldn’t have come at a worse time. Nemechek’s team is struggling to compete in two series without primary sponsors.

Before the race Nemechek talked about the ongoing sponsor search, comparing the current economic climate to tire kickers at local car dealerships.

“We’re talking to people, but everybody is taking a wait-and-see position,” he said.

He pointed out that he’s in a position to offer a potential backer a lot of bang for the buck. He rattled off his career stats – four Cup wins, all since 1999, and 10 Cup poles along with 16 wins and 18 poles in Nationwide and a championship, in 1992.

It showed Saturday during the race when despite his lack of backing he raced in the top 15 for most of the race. But in the end, the results only show a 34th-place finish. It was another case of a missed opportunity to move up in the points standings. Even so, he moved up two spots to 18th.

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 11 2009
8 Comments

8 Comments »

  • dawg says:

    Every one of Joe’s wins have been in less than first class equipment. To claim he’s been a backmarker forever, shows a colossal ignorance.

  • If everyone would think back joe is not an also ran he has fallen on hard financial times as have so many. Joe won the bush championship when it was still a very competitive series. outrunning the likes of j and ward burton,jeff gordon,robert pressley and dale sr check out their duel at louden a few years ago that along with his sprint cup wins in second tier teams. Hes a racer so give the guy a break.

  • steven says:

    joe has been an also ran forever. he crashes almost every race. let a young driver have an opportunity to race in the big leagues. i have no sympathy for field fillers.

    • olddirttracker says:

      I don’t know what your background is steven but Joe has always been competative in good equipment, lats kick the guy to the curb for a young kid whose daddy has more money than the kid does talent.

    • Brian says:

      Steve… I hate field Fillers who take the place people like JOE who are competing in all or nearly every race. The fact Joe was running with 5 laps to go proves he is not a field filler. If that was the case he would have pulled off the track on lap 1. If Joe could get funding for the Nationwide or Cup series he will do good.

    • Richard says:

      Steven, Joe is NOT a field filler and does not crash every race. His nickname Front Row Joe was earned by his ability to get the cars on the pole. That takes a lot of guts. I cant even remember the last time Joe caused a wreck, usually the victim of those inexperienced drivers stupidity. When this wreck happened Joe was on his way to a top 10 finish. Joe worked his way up to be involved in Nascar Cup and Nationwide, not handed a ride by a rich father or benefactor.If these young guys want to race they need to start at the bottom of the pile.

  • shane says:

    someone step up and help this guy!!! he can be competitivewith little money and no crew imagine if he has a sponsor that would get behind his program.
    i think its horrible that guys like joe cannot get sponsors, and kids like stenhouse get big backing with no worries.

    • Richard says:

      Shane, I absolutely agree. He is a past champion and one of the best drivers in nascar, and proved it once again.Please somebody wake up and put your sponsorship on his car.