Nemechek takes Live Well 300

Posted: Sunday, November 11, 2001

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) -- Joe Nemechek took advantage of series champion Kevin Harvick's tough luck Saturday, making a late charge to win the season-ending GNC Live Well 300.

The victory was the 11th of Nemechek's NASCAR Busch Series career, his second this year and his third in six races at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where his younger brother, John, was killed in a truck race in 1997.

''This place has been good to us and bad to us. Everything I've been through and my family's been through, I'm so happy they're all down here,'' he said, surrounded by wife Andrea, son John -- named after his brother -- his daughter, father, mother and sister. ''This is a great way to start the weekend.''

Nemechek, who came up with his first Winston Cup victory of the season last Sunday in Rockingham, N.C., is also entered in Sunday's Pennzoil 400.

Harvick, who wrapped up the championship in Rockingham, was dominating on the Homestead-Miami Speedway's 1 1/2-mile oval, leading 128 laps and building margins of up to 11 seconds before his engine let go with a cloud of grayish-black smoke on lap 40 laps from the end of the 200-lap event.

That left Elton Sawyer in the lead with Nemechek close behind.

On the final pit stops by the leaders, Sawyer took on four tires and Nemechek wound up taking two after arguing on the radio with crew chief Brian Pattie for four.

During a postrace interview, Nemechek said, ''He made a real good call. Sorry about getting after you Brian. You are the man when it comes to the car. My car was awesome on two tires.''

Scott Wimmer stayed on track took the lead during the late stops, but Nemechek drove by him six laps from the end and pulled away. Sawyer regained second place and finished 1.247 seconds behind.

''We had a second-place car anyway,'' Sawyer said. ''Kevin was just checked out.''

Nemechek averaged 132.191 mph in the race slowed by only one caution flag for a total of nine laps.

That caution was brought out on lap 110 when CART star Christian Fittipaldi, making his Busch Series debut, was bumped from behind and spun into the wall. The Brazilian driver was already three laps down after being run out of gas by his team earlier in the race.

Jeff Green, the 2000 series champion, held onto second in the season standings, ending the season 124 points behind Harvick. Jason Keller, last year's runner-up, wound up third, 176 behind the champion.

Top Busch rookie Greg Biffle finished fourth on Saturday, followed by Wimmer, Matt Kenseth, Michael Waltrip, Ward Burton, Ryan Newman and Green. Keller was 19th.

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