DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Army News Service, Feb. 11, 2003)
-- Jerry Nadeau faces a tough mission in the second of Thursday's
125-mile qualifying races to determine the field for Sunday's
45th running of the Daytona 500.
Nadeau posted the 34th-fastest speed in the No. 1 U.S.
Army of One Pontiac Grand Prix during pole qualifying Monday
at Daytona International Speedway. He was clocked in 49.205
seconds around the 2.5-mile tri-oval, an average speed of
Jeff Green won the pole position with a fast lap of 48.230
seconds (186.606 mph) in the No. 30 America Online Chevrolet.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned the outside starting spot on the
front row with a 48.528-second lap (185.460 mph) in the
No. 8 Budweiser Chevy Monte Carlo.
"We weren't as quick as we were in practice,"
said Nadeau, who had the 14th fastest speed in Saturday's
second practice session. "The car just never came up
to speed. It's just one of those deals. I am not sure why
-- whether it's the (restrictor) plate or something else.
But we're not worried about it right now. We're just going
to get the car ready for the race."
Crew chief Ryan Pemberton agreed that the black and gold
Army of One car wasn't quite up to speed Monday.
"We should have been three-tenths quicker," he
said. "I am very disappointed with that lap. I am not
disappointed with the race team, not disappointed in the
program, just disappointed with that lap. We have to get
ready for race trim. We'll have a good race car, I don't
"We'll put this behind us, shake it off, and we'll
go get them in the 125 race."
On Tuesday, Nadeau posted the second-fastest speed (188.336
mph) during a one-hour practice session at the Birthplace
of Speed. It was the first session under race trim conditions
for the NASCAR Winston Cup teams as they prepare for the125-mile
qualifying races and Sunday's Daytona 500.
"This is a good start and we have a good baseline
to build on," Nadeau said. "We're going to keep
plugging away and get this U.S. Army Pontiac in top shape
for Thursday's qualifying race."
Added Pemberton: "It didn't look bad today, but at
times it's kind of hard to get a clear picture because you're
picking up packs every other lap. I feel better about our
race car today than yesterday after qualifying. What we
pulled off in qualifying, there's only one way to go and
that's toward the front. It looks like we're heading in
The Twin 125-Mile Qualifiers will determine positions 3
through 30 for The Great American Race. The highest finisher
of the first Gatorade 125, once the Bud Pole winner is removed
from the equation, will start third in the Daytona 500,
the next-highest finisher sixth and so on through 30th position.
In the event of cancellation, the top-30 positions will
be set according to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rule Book.
Starting positions 31 through 36 are determined by qualifying
speeds set in the original timed qualifying (fastest of
Monday's two laps). The 30 cars in the field will be removed
from the equation, and the remaining cars with the fastest
official qualifying speeds will fill these positions.
Starting spots 37 through 43 are provisional positions
assigned starting with the car owner ranked highest in the
2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series car owner point standings
who did not qualify for positions 1 through 36 and assigned
in descending order until all provisional spots are filled.
Position 43 is reserved for a past Winston Cup champion
"I enjoy the Twins," Nadeau said. "I finished
second last year and third the year before, so I enjoy the
Nadeau competed in 28 races last year and finished 37th
in the point standings. He drove for four teams in 2002,
beginning with Hendrick Motorsports for the first 11 races
of the season. He filled in for injured Johnny Benson for
three races at MBV Motorsports, drove a car owned by Michael
Waltrip for one race, and competed in 13 races for Petty
He missed the last five races of the year because of injuries
-- two fractured ribs and separated shoulder -- sustained
in a go-kart accident at a friend's house. His best finish
was eighth in the April race at Bristol, Tenn. In five career
starts in the Daytona 500, Nadeau's best finish was 11th
place in 1999. He was 21st in 1998, 35th in 2000, 32nd in
2001, and 28th in 2002.
"Last year was a tough year," admits Nadeau,
who is elated to have a full-time ride sponsored by the
U.S. Army. "I left Hendrick Motorsports, hopped around
and helped some teams out. But I don't think I have anything
to prove. I've always given all I have. People who know
me know that I have the drive to win. I've led a lot of
races and could have easily won six times in the last couple
of years, but unfortunately 'Lady Luck' bit us all the time.
"It's important to get off to a good start. Though
we're a new team, I think it's going to take some time for
Ryan, the crew and myself to get things going, especially
with the new cars and the new Pontiac bodies. I sincerely
feel that we're going to conquer and do well. I am anxious
to have the finishes speak for themselves."
This season is a reunion of sorts for Nadeau and Pemberton.
They worked together in 1999 when Nadeau fill in for injured
Ernie Irvan in the No. 36 car, owned by MB2 Motorsports
and tuned by Pemberton.
Nadeau, 32, of Danbury, Conn., said he is proud to drive
for the world's No. 1 fighting machine.
"It's an honor to drive the U.S. Army car in the Winston
Cup Series," he said Monday before climbing into the
car for his qualifying laps. "I'm pretty excited. Ever
since going to Afghanistan and Kuwait (to visit troops),
it's been a trip. It's been a learning experience. My dad
served in the Army, too, so I got to learn a lot."
With America on the verge of going to war, Nadeau feels
extremely emotional every time he takes the track in the
Army of One ride.
"It's emotional for sure," Nadeau concluded.
"When I went over there I got to meet a lot of the
troops and it was more of an honor to meet them. Our hearts
and prayers are going to be with them. I know we're going
to win this thing, and once we do our biggest thing is just
to get everybody back home safe."
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