When Joe Nemechek gets to North Carolina Speedway for this weekend's NASCAR Winston Cup race, the US Army Pontiac driver will most likely spend time reflecting about the historic race track, which will be losing its autumn race from next season.

"You hate to see Rockingham lose one of its races," Nemechek says, "It's a cool track and there have been so many good races contested there. It's a track like Darlington, where you can have exciting side-by-side racing. The groove is from the bottom to the top and you can go anywhere you want to. It's just a good race track. I will miss racing there twice a year."

One of Nemechek's career highlights took place at Rockingham, when he captured the 2001 autumn race.

"That was a special win," he admits, "It was a difficult year - I got hurt very bad in a test session in Dover and it was also the last year of our Oakwood Homes sponsorship with Andy Petree Racing. It seemed like everything was coming to a halt and then we won in Rockingham. It was fantastic - a special feeling of pride to rebound the way we did."

Nemechek feels that the #01 US Army Pontiac team is just as capable of pulling off a victory at the 38-year old facility.

"No question, this Army team has the potential of getting into winner's circle," he reckons, "Ryan Pemberton, myself and the rest of the crew have established good communications in a short time.

"We have the ingredients but, to win at Rockingham, you need luck on your side and a car that handles very well. Tyre wear is also critical because Rockingham is an abrasive track that likes to chew up the tyres. But handling is premium when you race at 'The Rock'."

Nemechek enters the Rockingham race in 24th place in the Winston Cup drivers' point standings, but the difference from 24th to 27th is only 19 points.

"It is very important to me to finish in the top 25," Nemechek admits, "I am very encouraged with the potential of the Army team - everything is upbeat."



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