Jimmie Johnson was the RaybestosÂ® Rookie of the Race in the Food City 500 at Bristol, earning a seventh place finish. This is the second time this season Johnson has been highest finishing. He also took RaybestosÂ® Rookie of the Race honors at...
Jimmie Johnson was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the Food City 500 at Bristol, earning a seventh place finish. This is the second time this season Johnson has been highest finishing. He also took Raybestos® Rookie of the Race honors at the MBNA America 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This is Johnson's fourth consecutive top-10 finish and his fourth top-10 of the 2002 winston cup season. Unofficially, he leads the Raybestos® Rookie of the Year standings by two points (84-82) over Ryan Newman.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET:
"After the way the weekend started, I didn't know if we would get to this point. I just wanted to finish. I've just really got to thank this entire team for keeping my spirits up and staying behind me and not letting me feel down. I felt bad tearing up that car (in practice Friday morning). That was our best car we had for here. We knew we were going to be at a little bit of a disadvantage. We couldn't run the exact setup we wanted but it turned out awesome. It's neat to have so much support behind you that when you are down they lift you back up and you work as a team."
HOW CLOSE DID YOU COME TO MAKING A RUN ON MATT KENSETH FOR SIXTH IN THE CLOSING LAPS OF THE RACE? I'll tell you what, I've got a lot more respect for Matt Kenseth. That boy can drive the wheels off a car sideways. I was waiting for him to spin out but he stayed in it and did an awesome job. I could have put the bumper to him and moved him but that's not my style. I pass you clean and race you clean."
YOU HAVE PUT TOGETHER A GOOD STRING OF FINISHES.
"I'm afraid to wake up. I think I'm dreaming or something. It's been unbelievable. How this stretch has come together. We had every reason to get down and out and have a bad day here today and a little bit of pit strategy at the beginning from Chad (Knaus, crew chief) to get us up front and then we just pitted when the leaders did and stayed up front all day long and it worked out awesome."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 12 ALLTEL FORD, FINISHED 37TH.
"We had a pretty decent race car after we got it tuned in. We were running third there for a while. I saw (Tony) Stewart was coming and I moved out of his way and he moved in my way. He got in the back of us and I spun it and that was about the end of the day. We were just logging miles after that, logging laps. I was trying to gain as many spots as we could. I think we gained two there at the end. I think we had a decent race car, a car capable of running in the top-10 but that never materialized."
AS QUICK AS THINGS HAPPENED HERE AT BRISTOL, IS THERE ANY REALISTIC WAY YOU CAN AVOID A WRECK OR ARE YOU A VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCES? "Tony Stewart could have avoided a wreck (laughs). That's pretty obvious. I wasn't stopped in the middle of the racetrack by any means."