Monday, March 22, 2010

CUP: Nemecheck Tied For 3rd All-Time After Rear Gear Shears At Bristol

Joe Nemechek picked up the 19th last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s Food City 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway when his ComputerWorks Toyota fell out with rear gear problems after completing 30 of the race’s 500 laps. Nemechek is now tied with G.C. Spencer for the third-most last-place finishes in NASCAR Sprint Cup history. He is seven finishes away from tying Derrike Cope for 2nd in those rankings.

Prior to qualifying, Nemechek gained sponsorship from ComputerWorks, a Bristol-area business, for both the Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup events. This marked just the second time in the season’s five races that Nemechek’s #87 had primary sponsorship on the hood of his car. The other sponsorship deal, which came from England’s Stove Works, was also in his most recent last-place finish in February’s Daytona 500.

On Friday, Nemechek qualified 35th at a speed of 121.190 mph, marking the first time since 2006 that the Florida driver had qualified for the first five races on the Sprint Cup schedule. Unfortunately, Nemechek was unable to enjoy the moment for long as he went behind the wall under green on lap 30.

It marked the third time Nemechek had finished last in the Food City 500; his other two came in back-to-back years driving Andy Petree’s #33 in 2001 and Travis Carter’s #26 in 2002. Nemechek has never finished last in the August race at the half-mile. This race marked the first time the #87 has ever finished last at Bristol.

Nemechek is only the second last-place finisher in NASCAR Sprint Cup history to finish last with a rear gear problem. The first was not until the fall of 2006, when Kevin Lepage’s #34 Oak Glove Co. Chevrolet fell out of that year’s Subway 500 at Martinsville.

Eleven laps after Nemechek’s departure, 2009 LASTCAR Champion Dave Blaney, who swept the last-place finishes at Bristol that year, stopped his car at the top of turns three and four. A cut tire dropped him off the pace and Blaney was unable to find a break in traffic to get to pit road. Blaney had scored his third consecutive top-10 start at Bristol as driver of the PRISM Motorsports #66, his 3rd-place run the best-ever qualifying performance by the team. However, just like when he qualified 5th at Fontana, Blaney dropped to the back before the green flag. The lap 41 incident gave Blaney a two-lap penalty for deliberately bringing out a caution, but he went behind the wall under the yellow and was credited with 40 laps, finishing 42nd. Michael Waltrip, Blaney’s one-race teammate, fell out six laps later. PRISM Motorsports is still 0-for-5 in last-place finishes for 2010.

43) #87-Joe Nemechek / 30 laps / rear gear
42) #66-Dave Blaney / 40 laps / crash
41) #55-Michael Waltrip / 46 laps / suspension
40) #33-Clint Bowyer / 56 laps / engine
39) #09-Aric Almirola / 59 laps / brakes

1st) Aric Almirola, Joe Nemechek (2)
2nd) Robby Gordon (1)

1st) #87-NEMCO Motorsports, #09-Phoenix Racing (2)
2nd) #7-Robby Gordon Motorsports (1)

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