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Archive for Monday, May 20, 2002

Nemechek hired to replace Nadeau at Hendrick

May 20, 2002

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— Joe Nemechek, out of a full-time ride since Kmart pulled out of NASCAR, was hired by Hendrick Motorsports Wednesday to replace Jerry Nadeau.

Nadeau, released from his Hendrick contract last week, was also snapped up Wednesday. MBV Motorsports picked him to fill in for the injured Johnny Benson.

Both deals are temporary, but Nemechek has a little more security.

He'll be piloting the No. 25 Chevrolet for the rest of the season and performance could make it a permanent deal. The car is the fourth team in the Hendrick stable, which includes Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte and rookie Jimmie Johnson.

"We're pleased to be able to put a talented veteran like Joe behind the wheel of the No. 25 car," team president John Hendrick said. "He's a proven winner and we're confident that he'll compete at a high level for the remainder of the 2002 season."

Nemechek, a former Busch Series champion, will compete in The Winston on Saturday night. He's eligible for the event because he won a race last season, but was not certain he would be able to compete because he didn't have a car.

Nemechek lost his Winston Cup job when Kmart filed for bankruptcy, ending its sponsorship deal with the two cars at Haas-Carter Motorsports. The teams folded when Kmart pulled out.

"I'm extremely excited at the opportunity to join a first-class organization like Hendrick Motorsports," Nemechek said. "They're giving me the chance to come into a situation with a top-tier team and fantastic sponsor. I really couldn't be more thrilled."

Nadeau, meanwhile, will only be in the No. 10 Pontiac until Benson recovers.

He'll be in the Winston Open on Saturday night and must win it to get into The Winston. Benson, injured in a Busch series accident on May 3, won the qualifier last year to advance into the all-star event.

"I certainly wish it could be under better circumstances but I'm excited to run the Winston Open," Nadeau said. "They won the pole and the Open last year and I know they want to do the same again this year. That's certainly my goal."

The 31-year-old Nadeau scored the only win of his Winston Cup career in Atlanta in November 2000, at the end of his first full season with Hendrick. He parted ways with Hendrick last week because the team was in a rut - he's 28th in the series standings with one top-10 finish in 11 starts.

Since MBV had a history with Nadeau, he filled in for the team in 1999 when then-driver Ernie Irvan was hurt, they grabbed him to replace Benson.

"We had talked to some others but Jerry is the guy we jumped at when we heard that he could drive for us," general manager Jay Frye said. "He got along with everyone here (in 1999) really well. He'll fit in without a problem."

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