Front Row Joe: Nemechek On Pole for Pennsylvania 500

20 July 1997

LONG POND, PA -- Joe Nemechek picked up a new nickname today -- Front Row Joe - after he put the BellSouth Monte Carlo on the pole for Sunday's Pennsylvania 500.

Nemechek, who had been fast all day in practice, circled the track with an event record 168.881 mph (53.292 second) lap. Nemechek said afterwards, "It takes a whole combination to be fast - and there is no I in team. It is everybody working together that gets it done. I think we're on a roll." Nemechek and the BellSouth team now have four front row starts this yea r- two of those are Busch poles.

Sitting next to Nemechek is Ernie Irvan in the Robert Yates Ford. "Nemechek!" Irvan said jokingly. "I was on the front row at California and he knocked me off. It would have been nice to return the favor."

Starting third, in his best career Winston Cup start, is Wally Dallenbach. "When we unloaded off the truck, compared to the last time we were here, we were two seconds faster. So I knew we had something for them."

The drivers that round out the top-five are a pair of Dale's - Jarrett and Earnhardt in that order.

The big names outside of the top-twenty five and looking at having to do something about second round qualifying are Rusty Wallace, Kyle Petty and Bobby Hamilton.

Hamilton never completed his lap and later found out a a broken rocker arm caused a miss in the motor of his Petty Enterprises Pontiac. "It just started missing over there on the backstraight," said Hamilton. "It's still running good and handling good - and it didn't blow up."

A fresh faced graced the garages of Pocono International's garages looking to make his first Winston Cup appearance. But Steve Park, protege of Dale Earnhardt, learned that it's a different ball game in Winston Cup after he qualified 42 on the field.

The field for the Pennsylvania 500 will be set after second round qualifying, which is set for tomorrow (Saturday) at 11:30 AM local time.

Mike Snow -- The Auto Channel

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