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Rough Weekend for Nemechek at Watkins Glen

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug. 14, 2002)—Joe Nemechek ran as high as eighth in the UAW-Delphi Chevrolet on Sunday at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International before an accident put Team 25 in the garage for repairs during the Sirius Satellite Radio at The Glen.

On lap 31 of the 90-lap event, Nemechek moved into eighth place, working his way from the bottom half of the field after qualifying 33rd on Friday. Less than five laps later, the wheels of the No. 25 locked, flat-spotting the front tires and hurting the driver’s ability to turn.

As he headed toward the pit area for a fresh set of Goodyear Eagles on lap 36, the right-front tire blew in turn 10, making the car impossible to handle around the curve. The momentum carried the Chevy Monte Carlo through the gravel traps and into a foam retaining wall, doing major front-end damage.

“Watkins Glen is a place where I’ve had a lot of success, so I’m especially disappointed at what happened,” said Nemechek, who has finished eighth at Watkins Glen three times. “I had the brakes lock up in the inner loop and I flat-spotted the front tires. I was on my way to the pits when we lost the right front.

“Thank goodness for those gravel traps—they really slowed me down. I was making a left-hand turn and, all of a sudden, it goes straight into the foam wall. It was just a hard weekend for the UAW-Delphi team.”

Crew chief Brian Pattie and his team worked feverishly to return Nemechek to the race track, making extensive sheet metal repairs and replacing the radiator. With the leaders on lap 52, the car rejoined the field, eventually finishing the event in 38th, 21 laps off the pace.

“These guys did an incredible job getting me back out on the race track,” said Nemechek. “There was a lot of body damage to the front of the UAW-Delphi Chevy and they had to replace the radiator. Just a great effort on their part.”

Nemechek remains 37th in the overall NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver standings after starting 19 of 22 races this season.

For the second time in 2002, the team will compete at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., this weekend. Coverage of Sunday’s Pepsi 400 on TNT and MRN Radio is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. EDT.

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