By Tara GudgerNovember 20, 2006
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Army News Service, Nov. 20, 2006) - Was fate preparing Joe Nemechek for a lucky 2007 season'
It does seem coincidental that Nemechek, who will switch rides to the No. 13 Chevrolet next year for MB2 Motorsports, qualified 13th and finished 13th in Sunday's Nextel Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"I'm not sure what to make of all those 13s," said Nemechek. "I'm not superstitious, but maybe I should be. All I know is that we had a pretty good run today in the 01 Army Chevy, and I am happy that we gave our Soldiers a good showing in the final race of the year."
Though the 13th place finish in the Ford 400 was the seventh straight top-20 performance for Nemechek, the veteran driver had mixed feelings since it was his final ride in the 01 Army-sponsored car.
"It's been an honor to represent the Army," said Nemechek, who took over the Army ride with four races remaining in 2003. "It's not like I'm going away. I'm still going to be around and help our Soldiers as much as I can. The Soldiers are the ones who give us the freedom to come here and race. They are my heroes and always will be. And everybody needs to make sure they go out of their way to tell our men and women in uniform thank you."
Nemechek's average finish in the last seven races was 15th. Had that been his average for the 36-race schedule, he would have finished 13th in points, instead of 27th. He did pick up four spots in the standings during the final seven-race stretch.
"The past few months we've gotten a lot closer and that is a good thing for all of our teams at MB2 next year," said Nemechek. "We really learned a lot. It's just disappointing that we got so far behind and had to play catch-up for most of the season."
Nemechek's 01 Army Chevy was steady for most of the 268-lap race on Homestead's 1.5-mile oval. He had a few green-flag runs where the car was loose, but he and the 01 team were Army Strong, fighting back to finish 13th.
Nemechek will hit the track again in February at the 2007 Speedweeks in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The 01 Army ride next year will be shared by MB2 newcomers Mark Martin and Regan Smith. Martin will drive in 20 point races plus two all-star events. Smith will be the pilot in the remaining 16 point races.