MRN Flashback: 2004 Banquet 400

J.Nemechek

Just two weeks after celebrating his 41st birthday, Joe Nemechek was in Victory Lane at Kansas Speedway with a win in the Banquet 400. (Photo: Getty Images)

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With a parade of "household names" like Busch, Earnhardt, Gordon, Johnson and Stewart winning races regularly in 2004, Joe Nemechek helped the headline writers break up the monotony in the fall of that year.

Just two weeks after celebrating his 41st birthday, Nemechek parked his U.S. Army-sponsored Chevrolet in Victory Lane at Kansas Speedway after winning the Banquet 400.

On Oct. 10, 2004, Nemechek passed Elliott Sadler to take his final lead of the race, showing the way for the last 37 trips around the 1.5-mile oval to claim his fourth career Cup Series win.

He beat Ricky Rudd to the checkered flag by less than one tenth of a second with Greg Biffle, Sadler and Jeremy Mayfield completing the top five.  Nemechek started from the pole and led only the first four laps before his late charge to victory.

Brendan Gaughan was the highest-finishing rookie, in 10th place.  Mayfield earned the five-point bonus for leading the most laps.  He had his Ray Evernham-owned Dodge in front five times for 72 laps.

The race included nine cautions for 39 laps.  There were 24 lead changes among 12 drivers.

The 2004 season was noteworthy as the first year in which the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship format was used.  Kurt Busch finished sixth at Kansas Speedway and went on to claim the title, beating runner-up Jimmie Johnson by a mere eight points.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Kansas Speedway this week for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400, the fourth round of the 2013 post-season Chase.

Visit MRN.com on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (ET) to hear the complete broadcast of the 2004 Banquet 400, anchored by Barney Hall and Joe Moore.  Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” – features a classic race broadcast each week on “Throwback Thursday” throughout the 2013 season at MRN.com.

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