Friday, November 20, 2009

Joe Nemechek

Joseph Frank Nemechek III was born on September 26th of 1963 in Lakeland, Florida, where he also began racing motorcycles. Nemechek is from Florida, the land of the birth of NASCAR and influential people such as the France’s, and Fireball Roberts.

Joe Nemechek’s racing career began when he started racing motor cross at the age of 13, and before he was 19 he accomplished over 300 podium finishes. During Nemechek’s time at the Florida Institute of Technology, he raced motor-cross. While soon afterwards Nemechek switched to racing Mini Stock cars at Lakeland Speedway in 1987, at which he won the Rookie of the Year in the Mulco Industries Volkswagen.

In 1988 Nemechek joined the ranks of the United Stockcar Alliance Late Model Series and won the Rookie of the Year title, along with the championship.

In 1989 Nemechek entered the All Pro Late Model Series, and in June won his first race at the I-95 Speedway on his way to winning the Rookie of the Year, along with the championship in his self-owned Buick.

By 1990, Nemechek already had a wide reputation among the racing scene, specifically in the south-east where he won many races, so he moved up to the NASCAR Busch (Nationwide) Series with his own team, NEMCO Motorsports, based out of Mooresville, North Carolina, where he won the Rookie of the Year again.

1991 was Nemechek’s first of three years in the NASCAR Busch (Nationwide) Series of top ten point finishes, with a 6th place finish with sixteen top ten finishes through thirty-one races while driving for himself, while even sponsor less for eight races.

1992 was the year of Nemechek’s first championship at the NASCAR ranks, by winning the championship in the Busch (Nationwide) Series while driving for himself. At the same time of his championship winning run, he was gaining popularity among the fans, and by the end of the year they felt that he deserved the Most Popular Driver award among the NASCAR Busch (Nationwide) Series drivers, being the first of two in a row that he won.

The last year of Nemechek’s top ten points finishes was in 1993 when he finished 5th while driving his self-owned Dentyne Chevrolet through the 28 race season.

In 1994 Nemechek moved up to the NASCAR Winston (Sprint) Cup driving for Larry Hedrick in his Meineke Chevrolet, qualifying for every race except for the Daytona 500 and the first race at North Wilkesboro, finishing 27th in points.

In 1997, the Nemechek family suffered a loss, as during the Craftsman (Camping World) Truck Series race at Homestead Joe’s brother, John, was killed. Joe’s next win after his brother’s death was at Charlotte Motor Speedway at the Carquest Auto Parts 300 in the Busch (Nationwide) Series, leading 134 of 200 laps in his Bell South Mobility Chevrolet. Joe said about the win “We've had a lot of tough times and a lot has happened in our life this year . . . But this one was for John. He was watching over me. Losing my best friend . . . my brother . . . a part of our family . . . to come back here to Victory Lane, I just wish he was here with me." Three years later when Joe’s first child was born with his wife Andrea, they named him after his brother, John Hunter Nemechek.

At the 1999 Jiffy Lube 300 at the New Hampshire International Speedway, Nemechek earned his first NASCAR Winston (Sprint) Cup win, while driving for Felix Sabates in the Bell South #42, leading 72 of the 300 laps. Also in 1999 Joe won three poles in the Winston (Sprint) Cup Series alone, to earn him the nickname "Front Row Joe."

In 2001, Nemechek decided to share his #87 NEMCO Motorsports car with Ron Fellows and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for a total of two races. He also won his second NASCAR Winston (Sprint) Cup race at North Carolina Speedway (later Rockingham Speedway) at the Pop Secret 400 where he dominated 196 laps and won in Andy Petree’s Oakwood Home #33.

2003 saw Nemechek’s second NEMCO car win five races, and eight poles in the NASCAR Busch (Nationwide) Series with the combined efforts of himself, Greg Biffle, and David Reutimann. Also in this season, Nemechek reached an opportunity that many only dream about, when he started driving for Hendrick Motorsports in the #25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet. This team swap turned out to be very beneficial when just eleven races into the season he won the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Even through a great season of six top tens, and the win at Richmond International Raceway, the end of the season was an announcement that he would move to MB2 Motorsports driving the #01 U.S. Army Chevrolet in the 2004 season.

In October of 2004, Nemechek won at the Kansas Speedway in both the Busch (Nationwide) Series and the Nextel (Sprint) Cup Series, and winning the pole in the Cup race. These wins were the last races Nemechek has won to date.

Joe continued to drive for MB2 in the #01 in 2005 and 2006 until moving to Booby Ginn’s racing operation in 2007 in the #13 for half the season until after a one-race stint with E&M Motorsports, he moved to Furniture Row Motorsports in the #78 after the 25th race of the season at California Speedway.

In 2008 Nemechek accomplished qualifying for every race excluding four driving for Furniture Row, again in the #78, though rarely accomplishing the full distance of a race.

Since 2009, Nemechek has been racing the self-owned NEMCO Motorsports #87 full time in both the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series, while in many races he is forced to start and park. When asked why he still races, even through the financial struggles, he states “I love to race,” without hesitation. “I look around at a lot of these other drivers out here, you could probably name one or two that would do it if they were in the position I was in, but most of them wouldn’t have any part of it. I think it just shows how much I love to do what I do.” Nemechek has not had a top ten since 2007 in the Sprint Cup Series but in 2011 Nemechek had three top tens and one top five accomplishing his best season since 2005.

The History of Joe Nemechek

About Joe

Joe Nemechek: 'I love to race'

Joe Nemechek Wins Race For Late Brother

Joe Nemechek Statistics

Nemechek Earns First All Pro Victory

Porter Wins Sunday Races