Nemechek Takes A Costly Tumble
By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
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.8 Comments