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Nemechek Second in Season Finale

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Nov. 18, 2002)—Joe Nemechek finished second and led the most laps at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday after starting fourth thanks to a season-best qualifying effort at the 1.5-mile track on Friday.

“I’ve got to say thank you to UAW-Delphi, Chevrolet, GMAC and all these folks that keep this thing going,” Nemechek said. “I’m on board and Peter (Sospenzo, crew chief) is on board for next year and this is just a sign of things to come.”

Driving the No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet, Nemechek took the lead by Lap 43 with one of the fastest cars in the field. The Lakeland, Fla., native, who led 111 total laps, pulled away from his closest competition, going out to a six-second lead during his first stint as the race leader.

Team 25 stayed near the front all afternoon, leading multiple times throughout the 267-lap event. Nemechek was one of only six drivers to run in the top spot all afternoon.

With 31 laps remaining, a caution was displayed and Sospenzo called for a two-tire pit stop as many of the frontrunners used different strategies to save time on pit road. Nemechek came out in the fifth position, with lapped cars on the inside and four drivers ahead of him.

Wearing down his tires, the 39-year-old fought hard to take the checkered flag, navigating through traffic on the final laps to finish second to race winner Kurt Busch.

“It was a good day for the UAW-Delphi Chevy team,” Nemechek said. “These guys have worked really hard. We just need a little bit more luck. I think we’re showing them that we’re coming on strong and next year is going to be a really good year for us.

“Right now we’re on a roll. The last eight weeks, my season has turned around. We’ve been leading races; we’ve been up there in the front. Homestead is a tough race track and we ran really good all day long.”

Nemechek climbed one position in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver standings, vaulting Casey Atwood to finish the season at 34th overall after starting just 33 of 36 events in 2003. The veteran earned three top-five finishes in the last eight races and four top-10 starts in the final nine.


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