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Hitting too close to home

Petty's death brings back memories of John Nemechek

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Posted: Saturday May 13, 2000 02:08 PM

  Joe Nemechek Heavy heart: Joe Nemechek says he carries his younger brother's death with him each day. Jamie Squire/Allsport

By John Donovan,

It will be three years ago this fall that Joe Nemechek lost his brother on a racetrack in Florida. So, when he heard the news that good friend Adam Petty was killed Friday in practice for a race in Loudon, N.H., all the horrible memories came flooding back.

"There's a lot of things that go through your mind. It's tough. My sympathies are with the family -- all the Pettys," Nemechek said from his shop outside Charlotte, N.C. "It's just a tough thing to experience.

"Adam was a good friend of mine. I still can't believe this has happened. All he wanted to do is race. He was dedicated to his racing."

Nemechek's brother, John, died days after a wreck in the 1997 NASCAR Truck Series race at the Homestead Motorsports Complex. He was the last NASCAR driver to die from an accident on the track.

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John Nemechek was 27. His death is something that his 36-year-old brother carries with him each day.

Last fall, when Joe won his first Winston Cup race, he dedicated the win to his brother. Joe's win came at the Dura Lube 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, the same track where Petty crashed on Friday.

"I wasn't up there. I don't know all the circumstances of what happened," said Nemechek, a veteran of 199 Winston Cup starts. "[But] it's tough. It's a fast, flat racetrack. You get sailing off in the corners really, really fast. I've hit the wall there before. The circumstances just must have been right."

After his win in New Hampshire last fall, Joe said afterward that he felt his brother was looking out for him.

It is something, he said, everyone in the racing world will now do for the Pettys.

"I know the whole racing community is going to miss him," Nemechek said of his friend, Adam Petty. "But there's nothing you can say. There's nothing you can say."

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