2009 Ride: No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports Toyota
2009 Primary Sponsors: None for most events. One race each for Huckleberry’s BBQ Sauce, Maui Shower Company, GPS Enterprises, New York City Bagel Deli, Suzuki and Chucklevins.com
2009 Owner: Joe Nemechek
2009 Crew Chief: Felipe Lopez
Stats: 30 races, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s, 0 poles, 4 DNQs, 27 DNFs, 40th in points
Best Finish: 14th (Talladega – spring)
Average Finish: 39.5
High Points: Well, I guess to stretch the meaning of “high” beyond Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the three races Nemechek actually finished. One of those was at Talladega in the spring, where Nemechek ran all the laps and finished 14th. His next best finish was 35th at Richmond this fall. But of course, the real high of the season was earning $2.4 million in purse money for managing to get the car in the show during qualifying then parking it. Nice work if you can find it, but wouldn’t you feel better about yourself if you did something more honorable like beating disabled grannies upside the head with a bat as they hobbled home from the bank after cashing their Social Security check?
Low Points: Does anybody else remember this guy has actually won three races during his Cup career? Has the man no pride? Being the best of the start-and-parkers is like being the fat chick who sweats the least. Was he wearing a crash helmet or a bag over his head? An average finishing position of 40th? Hell, even Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesn’t finish that badly. When he showed up at the pay window to collect $142,000 for running 21 laps at the Brickyard and finishing dead last, did he at least have the courtesy to point a gun at the teller?
Summary: An utter and total complete joke, and only Joe’s accountant is laughing. That such a cynical business strategy could yield over $2 million in earnings shows just how bad things are with this economy and this sport. Richard Petty never earned more than $600,000 in prize money in a season, and he won seven championships and 200 races. (Well, OK, 199 and he stole one.) Normally, to make that much money with such a criminal level of ineptitude you’d have to work in Hollywood, Washington D.C. or on Wall Street as an investment banker.
2010 Outlook: Well, Nemechek is in on the ground floor of the whole start-and-park industry. Until NASCAR stops this insanity to keep their fields full, he’s going to be able to pay the electrical bill at Casa De Nemechek. Maybe he can even get richer writing a book advising other unemployed individuals on how to make a million bucks a year working a few hours a week. (I can see the Internet popup ads now.) Until then, Nemechek is the poster child for the cause that NASCAR ought to admit to the obvious, reducing field size to 35 reasonably competitive cars that plan to run the entire race each week.
So, I’m going to go way out on a limb here and predict that Nemechek will probably miss the Chase again in 2010. He might make it in 2011… if there’s only 12 teams left competing on the circuit. Wanna hear something scary? Petty earned $8.5 million in prize money during his Cup career that spanned four decades. “I’m a Ho” Joe has earned over $35 million in prize money.
2006 Frontstretch Grade: D
2007 Grade: C-
2008 Grade: D
2009 Grade: F