Nadeau Back At Track

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RICHMOND, Va. - Crew chief Ryan Pemberton doesn't harbor any ill feelings or negative thoughts. Yet, he does feel he has some unfinished business to attend to at Richmond International Raceway, site of Saturday night's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race.

The last time Pemberton was in Richmond, tuning and overseeing the performance of the No. 01 U.S. Army Pontiac, he saw a promising weekend turn to anguish.

With Jerry Nadeau behind the wheel of the U.S. Army car at the Richmond spring race, the team posted a solid qualifying effort of 12th and was running in the top three in the ensuing practice session.

It was all clicking for Pemberton and Nadeau. But as the practice session went on, misfortune struck the U.S. Army team when Nadeau slammed into the wall driver-side first between the first and second turns. He was airlifted to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond where he was listed in critical condition with head, lung and rib injuries.

"That was a very difficult time," said Pemberton. "My best friend and driver was laid up in the hospital and you could sense it wasn't good. None of us wanted to be at the track, but we had a job to do. We had to get the backup car out and go find a driver. We not only had to find a driver who was willing to fill in, but one who was about the same size as Jerry. Jason Keller (Busch Series driver) agreed and he did a good job for us considering the circumstances."

Pemberton is hoping that he and the team's current substitute driver, Mike Skinner, will also click with a successful combination for the .75-mile oval.

"Frankly, I'd like to duplicate everything in Richmond except Jerry's last lap," said Pemberton. "We had had a good qualifying run and Jerry was running real fast in race trim. We never got the chance to really show our hand. Hopefully, we'll have just as good of a combination for Mike. This will be his fifth race for us and he has done a good job."

Offering support to Pemberton and Skinner in Richmond will be Nadeau, who is recovering from the injuries he sustained on May 2.

"I am going to Richmond to thank a lot of people and give my support to the team," said the 32-year-old Nadeau. "There are so many people that I want to personally thank - the doctors and staff at the hospital, the emergency workers and the medical staff at the infield care center.

"Regarding the team, I think they're going to do well in Richmond. We had a fast car in May and I feel it will be just as good this weekend."

Skinner, who has a fondness for the Richmond track, is looking forward to having a fast Army Car.

"I've always liked Richmond," said Skinner, who captured the pole at this race in 1999. "We're continuing to learn and understand each other and I feel we might have found something in Darlington last week. You know what, I would like nothing more than to go out there and have a great finish for Jerry. This is his car and it would be only fitting for all of the U.S. Army team members to come away with a solid result in Richmond."

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