Joe Nemechek rolled into New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 1999 with nothing to lose. To call him a desperate driver might be an understatement. His team owner, Felix Sabates, had just let him know he wasn’t going to be with the team for the 2000 season. Joe was a no go. His ride was leaving him and his future prospects depended heavily on the last few races of the season. If “Front Row Joe” ever needed his first ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win, it was now.
Determined to prove the skeptics wrong, Nemechek qualified well and led 72 of the 300 laps that day. He also led the most important lap, the last one. Joe Nemechek won his first Cup race in 180 tries. It’s for those reasons “Front Row Joe” has a special place in his heart for “The Magic Mile.”
“It was an awesome race. I really like this place. Between the tires and the sealer that’s on the track it gets slick sometimes. You have to figure out how to overcome it and that’s what makes a good team and good driver,” said Joe Nemechek. “I’m still looking for a job for the year 2000. I don’t know what I am going to do. Hopefully this will definitely help,” he said.
Behind the wheel of the No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet, Nemechek was no stranger to winning at the 1.058-mile oval; the 1992 season brought a NASCAR Nationwide Series win and he followed it up with a pole position the following year in NASCAR’s minor league.
The historical 1999 race season brought back to back first time winners, a feat NASCAR hadn’t seen since 1970. The week prior to NHMS Dura Lube-Kmart 300, Tony Stewart grabbed his first checkered flag at Richmond.
Nemechek would drive the No.33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet for Andy Petree Racing in 2000, finishing a career best 15th in points.
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