Sunday, April 3, 2011

CUP: Nemechek Tied For 2nd-Most Last-Place Finishes After Controversial Martinsville Weekend

Joe Nemechek picked up the 26th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at the Martinsville Speedway when his #87 AM FM Toyota fell out 25 laps into the 500-lap race with brake problems.

With the finish, Nemechek is now tied with Derrike Cope for the second-most last-place finishes in NASCAR Sprint Cup history. It is also Nemechek’s 32nd last-place finish across NASCAR’s top three divisions, tying him for the third-most all-time with the late J.D. McDuffie.

At Martinsville, Nemechek welcomed back returning primary sponsor AM FM, who funded his successful bid to make the Daytona 500 in February. He was the fastest “go-or-go-home” car in Friday’s opening practice session (29th overall) and qualified 37th for the race at a speed of 94.209 mph. However, the nose of Nemechek’s #87 was found to be too low in post-qualifying inspection, so the time was disallowed. This dropped Nemechek to 43rd for the start of the race.

No cars were sent home in qualifying as, for the second straight race, only 43 cars attempted to qualify. All-time LASTCAR leader Derrike Cope’s #75 was the first to withdraw prior to practice. Dennis Setzer, returning to K-Automotive’s #92 after the team did not enter the race at Fontana, withdrew after Happy Hour when a brake failure resulted in a turn three crash that destroyed the only car the team had at the track.

Although he appeared to have adequate sponsorship, Nemechek’s was still the first car to go behind the wall on race day, falling out during the opening green-flag run. Mike Skinner in Germain Racing’s #60 fell out six laps later. Radio communications from the #87 indicated Nemechek was considering returning to the track to pass Skinner, but decided not to when he noticed how banged-up the right side of Skinner’s car was after just 31 laps.

*This was Nemechek’s second career last-place finish in a Cup race at Martinsville. The first came in the 2008 Tums QuikPak 500, where his #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet fell out with crash damage after 115 laps following a tangle with Matt Kenseth.
*The #87 had never before finished last in a Cup race at Martinsville.
*It’s the second straight year that the last-place finisher of the spring Cup race at Martinsville fell out with brake failure. Last year, Michael McDowell’s #55 PRISM Motorsports Toyota fell out 24 laps into the 2010 Goody’s Fast Relief 500.

43) #87-Joe Nemechek / 25 laps / brakes
42) #60-Mike Skinner / 31 laps / brakes
41) #46-J.J. Yeley / 33 laps / brakes
40) #56-Martin Truex, Jr. / 219 laps / crash
39) #4-Kasey Kahne / 219 laps / crash / led 1 lap

1st) Michael McDowell, Joe Nemechek (2)
2nd) Landon Cassill, J.J. Yeley (1)

1st) #66-HP Racing LLC, #87-NEMCO Motorsports (2)
2nd) #46-Dusty Whitney, #60-Germain Racing (1)

1st) Toyota (5)
2nd) Chevrolet (1)

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