NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Gatorade Duel 2
Topics: Gatorade Duel 2
February 14, 2008
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: Joe Nemechek has come in. He's made the Daytona 500 based on his qualifying time. He drives the No. 78 Furniture Row racing Chevrolet.
Congratulations. Your thoughts about racing on Sunday?
JOE NEMECHEK: Thank you. Just good to be in the Daytona 500, getting hooked up with Furniture Row, Chevrolet. These guys have been down here, a team being three years old, never making the 500. All of a sudden we have two cars in the 500, so it's a really, really special day.
KERRY THARP: Let's take questions for Joe.
Q. Can you explain what the success you had today means to your team, to get both cars in.
JOE NEMECHEK: It definitely means a lot. I mean, for a team -- you know, we put Kenny Wallace's car and that whole deal together right at the last minute. There's basically nobody left in the shop in Denver working on California stuff. Kind of spread the team really thin.
But I think we have our cars handling pretty good. At the beginning of the race, was able to lead some laps. Stayed up there. Towards the middle part of that run, you know, my car got extremely loose. Really didn't know why. You know, without having experience, without having another team member to fall back on to ask some of those questions, just had to learn how to deal with it.
We made some adjustments on that stop and then it was kind of being defensive, trying not to get in a wreck. It seemed like all the star cars there towards the end of that first race, they started beating on each other. Here I'm right behind them. We kind of backed up, tried to help Kenny, whatever we could do to try to help get him in.
Q. You're from Lakeland. Do you feel you had a home-field advantage? Like John Andretti, did you feel like a longshot on the track?
JOE NEMECHEK: Being locked in from qualifying, it's just a good feeling. It's tough. You know, you look at Boris Said, he's right there. He's the next guy to get a spot. It just didn't happen.
Very fortunate for qualifying. I think we've seen the Furniture Row team come a long, long ways from where they were last year. I mean, there's huge improvements within their team. For just being a single-car team, it's pretty special.
But being from Lakeland, right down the road, it's good to have a good run in Daytona. If we can come out of the Daytona 500 with a top-15 finish, man, that's going to be a big deal getting started on the 2008 points.
Q. Brian Vickers was saying he felt like you took it easy on him that last lap. Any reason why you maybe didn't challenge him harder? That did get him in the 500. I don't know if you were aware of that.
JOE NEMECHEK: I am now. We were kind of on the defensive there, and then all those guys pitted. We tried to go there at the end, but there's no substitute for new tires. I think that was his advantage coming there on the last or next to the last lap. He caught me going into turn three. He caught me pretty quick. As soon as he stuck that fender to the right rear, it bogged me down and let him have enough momentum to just clear me.
Just fortunate the rest of the guys didn't get a good restart and they were farther back. I think we saw on that second race, too, what new tires do. You know, you come in, get new tires with the 'green-white-checkered', that was pretty impressive, how John Andretti got up through there.
It just shows that handling is going to be the key in the 500.
KERRY THARP: Joe, thanks a lot. Good luck on Sunday.
JOE NEMECHEK: Thank you.
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