Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pole for Joe Cool Nemechek Runs Well Day, or Night

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pole for Joe Cool Nemechek Runs Well Day, or Night

Article excerpt

DAYTONA BEACH -- It didn't matter to Joe Nemechek if the Daytona International Speedway was awash in sunlight or stadium lights. It didn't matter if he was working his Chevrolet Monte Carlo during the hottest part of the afternoon or the cool of nighttime.

The man known as "Front Row Joe" was the fastest during yesterday's practice session leading up to the Pepsi 400, then he backed that up under the lights during pole qualifying to win the top-starting spot for tomorrow night's main event.

Nemechek's run of 194.860 mph around the 2.5-mile raceway came early in time trials, but it was more than enough to withstand a two-hour assault of speed and nerve.

"The motor shop found more power in these restrictor-plate motors," Nemechek said. "That's what it's all about with plate racing. I was out of control coming off Turn 4, and I didn't think I was going to make it on the first lap. I just kept her on the bottom and kept it digging."

Nemechek's Chevrolet fish-tailed coming over the tunnel in the fourth turn, but the driver with an engineering degree from Florida Tech 45 miles south of the Daytona International Speedway never took his foot off the throttle. The car quickly wiggled back into a straight line and the lap proved to be quicker than the other 47 drivers in the session.

"We've got the cars held down so hard," Nemechek said. "We had to do some things to make it not drive so evil today. It was really slippery in practice [in the sunshine]. If you can hold it wide open around here, you're going to go somewhere. I did all I could do, but that's what you've got to do to go fast."

Nemechek has a reputation for qualifying near the front of the pack. Although yesterday's effort was his first pole position since the second race at Pocono, Pa., in 1997, he now has five top-10 starting spots in the first 17 races. …

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