The Callahan Report: Nemechek Wins BGN Touchstone Energy 300

25 April 1998

By Terry Callahan
The Auto Channel

Joe Nemechek
TALLADEGA, AL: For the first time this season, the NASCAR Busch Grand National series has a repeat winner. Joe Nemechek survived several multi-car crashes to win the Touchstone Energy 300 Busch race at Talladega.

Nemechek had a perfect weekend. He started and won from the pole. It wasn't an easy victory. Nemechek fell back through the field after leading the first 21 laps of the event. He emerged in front again with twelve laps remaining in the race. Nemechek held off Phil Parsons at the end for the coveted Talladega victory.

While making his late charge back to the front, Nemechek gave Parsons and third place finisher, Mike McLaughlin, a tow (the draft). Parsons and McLaughlin tried to hook up at the end, but could not get around the Monte Carlo of Nemechek. Parsons was four car lengths shy of winning.

It was wild out there," said Parsons. "I had the pedal on the floor the whole time and just couldn't catch him. Mike was helping me and we still couldn't do it. Joe was really strong."

Many of the drivers blamed the multiple crashes on shocks. They claimed that the shock settings, required by NASCAR for this event, caused severe "rebound" of the shocks. They said the "rebound" caused the crashes.

Nemechek commented, " That was the roughest ride I've ever had in a race car, but we were strong and I was trying to use my head all day." He continued, "I knew we could get back to the front. It was just a matter of getting hooked up with the right guys."

Only one driver visited the hospital as a result of the crash filled event. Brad Loney, who was one of the victims of the first crash, was transported to the hospital. He had precautionary X-rays due to complaints of neck and abdomen pain.

Most of the accidents occurred in the fourth turn. Coincidentally, four of the turn 4 accidents involved nine cars each. In the end, there were only 22 of the 43 racers running.

Four spectators were injured when a windshield came out of one of the cars. The windshield cleared the fence and landed in the stands. The injured fans were treated for cuts, bruises and abrasions.

Matt Kenseth finished eighth in the race. It was good enough to give him a 26 point lead in the championship. Mike McLaughlin is second, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Nemechek averaged a speed of 118.196 mph while collecting $34,950 for his winning efforts. There were seven caution periods causing the slow pace on this normally high speed track. Forty of the 112 laps were ran under caution.

Editors Note: The images displayed in this article (plus many more) can be viewed in the Visions of Speed Art Gallery and the Racing Image Galleries.

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