Fontana: Raybestos Rookie race interview

Raybestos® Rookie contender Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Lowe'S Chevrolet won the Napa Auto Parts 500 at California Speedway, His rirst career Winston Cup victory in 13 career starts. Johnson's previous career best finish was third in March at...

Raybestos® Rookie contender Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Lowe'S Chevrolet won the Napa Auto Parts 500 at California Speedway, His rirst career Winston Cup victory in 13 career starts. Johnson's previous career best finish was third in March at Las Vegas. He has now been the top finishing rookie in six of the 10 races this season. This is Johnson'S second top-five and seventh top-10 finish of the season. A Raybestos® Rookie contender has now won a race in each of the last four consecutive seasons dating back to Tony Stewart'S win in the 1999 Exide Batteries 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Johnson Leads The Raybestos® Rookie Standings By 26 Points (147-121) Over Ryan Newman.

Jimmie Johnson:

"This is unbelievable. To be able to do this and be this competitive in Winston Cup racing a dream of mine. I just can't believe it came true. It's so special to win here in front of home state, win in front of all my friends and family out in the grandstand. This is incredible. Thank you California! I'm glad I could do it."

ARE YOU SURPRISED YOU WON THIS EARLY IN YOUR CAREER?

"Heck yeah I am. This is unbelievable. You always hope and wish and think that you have the ability to come out here and be competitive but you just don't know until the right situation presents itself and you can showcase your talents. My hat's off to (crew chief) Chad Knaus. I feel we're both in a similar situation for trying to prove ourselves. He's doing an awesome job and the same with all the guys standing here in the Lowe's uniform."

WHY DID YOU NOT CHANGE TIRES LATE IN THE RACE?

"We were really loose at the start of runs and as the tires got older the car got better and better. We were going to go for two (tires) but we saw some guys earlier do gas only and beat us out of the pits. Chad made the call for gas only and I was able to hold those guys off. Track position was the key. I just tried not to let them line up behind me and draft down the straightaways and take the line in the corner and we were in good shape."

TALK ABOUT RACING RICKY RUDD AND KURT BUSCH AT THE END OF THE RACE.

"Ricky I knew it was going to be tough, but Kurt (Busch) I raced with him all day long. I thought he might be able to march up through there, the turbulent air, and get to us. But he got held up with Ricky Rudd a little bit and we were able to let the laps click down and bring this Lowe's Monte Carlo to victory lane."

RYAN NEWMAN IN THE NO. 12 MOBIL 1/ATTEL FORD

"Congratulations to Jimmie first of all. Hopefully we can have this good of a run when we get back to our homeland in Indiana and Michigan. He did an excellent job. I think we had a really good car today at times but at times we were the worst car on the track. You work hard all day to try to make it right and that's what we were doing. We just couldn't come across the right combination the whole race."

ANY REASON WHY THE HANDLING ON THE CAR WOULD GO AWAY?

"It was just inconsistent. We had a tire to equalize (and) we had a bad pit stop. There were some things that could have been a lot better. But overall finishing 14th in our first time here, it ain't bad but it was Jimmie's first time."

DID THE WEATHER CHANGE FROM PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING TO THE RACE HURT YOU TODAY?

"I don't think so. It was inconsistent run to run; it wasn't day to day."

SHAWNA ROBINSON IN THE NO. 49 BAM RACING DODGE WAS INVOLVED IN AN EARLY RACE ACCIDENT. SHE COMPLETED 18 LAPS AND WAS CREDITED WITH 42ND IN THE FINAL RUNDOWN.

"You run about 10 laps and so much heat is in the tires there is absolutely no grip whatsoever. The first few laps it feels good, feels like I can run and then it's like the car is up on the racetrack. You could see out there that not a lot of people had grip, but it was to the point where I couldn't get through the corner. It's pretty bad to be out there by yourself and have it happen. It's unfortunate because we were struggling and BAM is giving me the chance to drive a racecar. It's a really good opportunity but we're not having good results at this point. We'll keep trying. The team has a lot of potential and we're having some bad luck."

-raybestos-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Chad Knaus