Nemechek Earns First Top-Five at Kansas
- Oct 01, 2002
- 5 Team
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Oct. 1, 2002)—Joe Nemechek earned his first top-five finish of the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, bringing his No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet to the checkered flag fourth in the Protection One 400.
“It was just an awesome day to drive this car,” Nemechek said. “This whole week was exactly what this team needed to get on track. We had a great test in Kentucky and worked really hard all week getting ready for this race at Kansas.
“The guys were on it all weekend—we had great practices, a solid qualifying run and our best race of the season. Everyone is just so pumped up and ready to do it again.”
Starting the race from the 12th position, Nemechek easily worked his way as high as seventh early in the event, but dropped more than 20 places after coming to pit road for a second time thanks a bad set of tires on a Lap 30 pit stop. The team quickly recovered as Nemechek moved through the field, rejoining the top-10 on Lap 97.
With one of the faster cars on the race track, Team 25 stayed near the front for the remaining 170 laps, making slight chassis adjustments throughout the event to improve the handling of the No. 25 Chevy.
Nemechek made headway toward the end, moving into the sixth position as NASCAR displayed the red flag with three laps remaining, bringing the field to a halt as the track was cleared of debris.
After the restart, the UAW-Delphi Monte Carlo posted the fastest lap times on the race track, passing both Bill Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and finishing fourth overall behind race winner Jeff Gordon, rookie Ryan Newman and Rusty Wallace.
“The No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevy was just incredible all day, especially on that restart,” Nemechek said. “We had three laps to make something happen and the car made it easy. We made two passes and were really going for it.
“I think if we’d had a few more laps to work with, we would’ve been on Jeff’s bumper.”
Gaining ground in the Winston Cup driver standings, Nemechek vaulted both Jerry Nadeau and Brett Bodine for 34th in points after starting just 26 of 29 events in 2002.