Talladega: Raybestos Rookie contenders preview

News and Notes from the Raybestos® Rookie contenders. * Jimmie Johnson was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the Virginia 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Johnson finished 35th, completing 446 of the event's 500 laps. He leads the...

News and Notes from the Raybestos® Rookie contenders.

* Jimmie Johnson was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the Virginia 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Johnson finished 35th, completing 446 of the event's 500 laps. He leads the Raybestos® Rookie standings by 10 points (111-101) over Ryan Newman.

* Entering Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, Johnson has been the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in three consecutive events.

* Newman was the highest qualifying rookie at Martinsville, taking the 10th starting position in time trials while Johnson started 14th . Both drivers made their first career Martinsville starts in the Virginia 500.

* Neither Johnson nor Newman led a lap at Martinsville.

* Johnson is seventh in Winston Cup points, six behind sixth place Kurt Busch and 41 behind fifth place Tony Stewart. Johnson is the only first year driver in the top-10 in Winston Cup points.

* Entering Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega, the best finish by a rookie is third by Jimmie Johnson at the MBNA America 500 in Atlanta Motor Speedway.

* Newman has led more miles than any other Raybestos® Rookie entering the Aaron's 499. He has led six times in three races (67 laps) for a total of 101.10 miles. Fellow rookie Johnson has led once in one race (six laps) for 9.00 miles. Newman and Johnson are the only Raybestos® Rookies to lead at least one lap this season.

* Kurt Busch was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in last year's April event at Talladega Superspeedway. He finished third, completing all 188 laps of the race. Five of the six rookies that started the race finished on the lead lap: Busch, Harvick (12th), Jason Leffler (20th), Andy Houston (21st), Ron Hornday (22nd). The lone exception was Casey Atwood who finished 30th, one lap down. All six were running at the finish.

* 2001 Raybestos® Rookie of the Year Kevin Harvick was the top qualifying rookie for last year's April race at Talladega, grabbing the ninth place starting position. Five of the six rookies entered in the race qualified for the race on their speed. The lone exception was Ron Hornaday, who used a provisional to start 42nd.

* Three Raybestos® Rookies led last year's Aaron's 499: Busch, Hornaday and Andy Houston. Busch led twice for two laps, Hornaday once for two laps, and Houston once for one lap. Three different rookies leading equaled the most freshman drivers to lead a Winston Cup race in 2001.

* Both Johnson and Newman will be making their first Winston Cup starts at Talladega Superspeedway in the Aaron's 499.

* Newman and Jimmie Johnson both led laps in the Las Vegas race, the first time this season two or more Raybestos® Rookies have led at least one lap in the same event. Newman led three times for 50 laps (second most of any driver in the race), while Johnson held the top spot once for six laps, the first time he led a lap in his Winston Cup career.

* In just 16 career NASCAR Winston Cup races, Newman has scored four top-five and six top-10 finishes.

* In just 11 career NASCAR Winston Cup races, Johnson has one top-five and five top-10 finishes.

* By winning the pole for the Daytona 500, Johnson joined Loy Allen (1994) and Mike Skinner (1997) as the only drivers in their rookie season to win the pole for the Daytona 500. He is also among an elite group of modern era (since 1972) drivers who have won poles early in their careers. Johnson won his first Winston Cup pole position in just his fourth career start. Ryan Newman and Mark Martin both won a pole in their third career start, while Johnny Benson won his first career pole in his fourth start.

* Newman made history by becoming the first Raybestos® Rookie to compete in the Budweiser Shootout. Newman qualified for the special event reserved for pole winners by capturing the top starting position for the 2001 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. Newman started eighth and finished 15th, completing all 70 laps of the special event. <pre> RAYBESTOS® ROOKIE CONTENDER POINT STANDINGS

DRIVER                  POINTS
Jimmie Johnson          111
Ryan Newman             101
Shawna Robinson          46
Carl Long                 3

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Series NASCAR-CUP