Monday, February 23, 2009

Fuel Pump Falters, Nemechek 43rd In Fontana

Joe Nemechek picked up his 14th career last-place finish in Sunday's Auto Club 500 at the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California after his unsponsored #87 Toyota fell out with a fuel pump failure on lap 36 of the 250-lap event.

After coming just one spot shy of making the field for the Daytona 500 the previous week, Nemechek made the field for the Auto Club 500 with a qualifying speed of 177.998 mph. The run was just good enough for him to beat 5 other go-or-go-homers and secure the 43rd spot. In the early stages of the race, Nemechek gradually moved up into the 30s, but came down pit road under green on lap 36. His crew lifted the hood on his Toyota, then pushed it behind the wall. The fuel pump had failed, forcing the team to call it a day. It was the first time the last-place finisher was knocked out with a fuel pump problem since Joe Ruttman in the 1982 Firecracker 400 at Daytona.

The run was Nemechek’s third last-place finish at the Auto Club Speedway, his second-straight at the track, and his first since last fall's Tums QuikPak 500 at Martinsville. Half of Nemechek’s fourteen last-place finishes have all come in the last three seasons. Nemechek’s NEMCO operation had not finished last since Ron Fellows fell out early in the Global Crossing at the Glen in August of 2000. It had been just over a year since the #87 had previously finished last: Kenny Wallace did so driving as Nemechek’s teammate in last year’s Daytona 500.

43) #87-Joe Nemechek / 36 laps / fuel pump
42) #66-Dave Blaney / 50 laps / fuel pump
41) #82-Scott Speed / 172 laps / engine
40) #5-Mark Martin / 179 laps / engine
39) #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. / 205 laps / engine

1st) Joey Logano, Joe Nemechek (1)

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