Jimmie Johnson in the ...
Jimmie Johnson in the #48 Lowe'S Chevrolet was The Raybestos® Rookie of the Race at Charlotte. Johnson finished sixth, jis 19th top-10 of the season and took home top finishing Raybestos® Rookie honors for the 15th time on 2002.
"Track position was real important. We had the car free and fast at the beginning but at the end when the sun went down the track got too tight for us. We just didn't keep up with it. It was a great effort for the Lowe's Monte Carlo. We finished in the top-10 and we'll see what happens from here."
THERE WERE THREE DISTINCT TRACK CONDITIONS TODAY. DID YOU HAVE TO CHASE THE TRACK EVEN MORE THAN NORMAL TODAY?
"It just got real tight on us as it went. The longer the race was the tighter the track got. I think it was really related to the air temperature changes.'
RYAN NEWMAN, #12 ALLTEL FORD, FINISHED EIGHTH. NEWMAN SCORED HIS SEVENTH CONSECUTIVE FINISH OF EIGHTH OR BETTER.
"We've got to thank Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray because they gave us our lap back. That doesn't happen very often nowadays. It was a pretty good run for the Alltel Ford to come from where we did to finish in the top-10. We had good pit stops all day, which was very important. Two Penske cars in the top-eight I guess isn't bad."
DID YOU THINK YOU WERE SUNK A TIME OR TWO WHEN YOU GOT A LAP DOWN?
"We were (laughs). We were without a doubt. The guys made good pit stops and got us back in the front of the line and got our lap back. It was purely teamwork. There's no other word for it."
YOU GOT YOUR CAR BETTER AND BETTER DURING THE RACE.
"I definitely don't think this one (car) was as good as the one that crashed on Saturday so I'll have to remember that come Saturday practice next week. It's just one of those things. We worked on it all day and as the track changed and the sun came out and then it got cool. It was 180 degrees different from where we started."
WITH THE CHANGE IN WEATHER CONDITIONS, DID YOU CHASE THE TRACK EVEN MORE THAN NORMAL TODAY?
"This is as close as we've ever been, I mean, that's our first top-10 here. That's something that we'll put in the notes for sure."
JOHNSON RAYBESTOS® ROOKIE POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE
WERE YOU EXPECTING A BETTER RUN TODAY SINCE YOU RAN SO WELL HERE IN MAY?
"I really thought that we were going to be able to finish in the top-three tonight. We had a couple little issues hurt us. Fuel mileage didn't work in our favor and we also had a wheel that was left loose and we had to pit early and got us out of sequence. After that, when the sun went down the track got real tight for us. That happened to me in the 600 where I didn't adjust the car enough on the pit stops as the night fell. I think we just got behind again and we were too tight. In the big picture, a great day but it never fails. We're all sitting here second, third, fourth, and fifth and nobody can really move anywhere so it's going to be a battle all the way to Homestead."
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, #48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET:
"Once again this team is shown how good they are. We had some more problems that we had to overcome. We weren't getting the distance out of our fuel that we needed. We needed some more fuel capacity. I don't know how some of these guys are getting all this fuel in their cars. We had to pit one time when we really didn't really want to and got us back in the pack. Then we had a left rear wheel come loose on us and we had to battle back from that. The guys did a great job. I can't say enough about this Lowe's team and all the support we're getting from Hendrick Motorsports. Track position was everything. We had a decent car. The car was just as fast as the leaders. We just couldn't get there. Lap traffic was just horrendous today and you just have to deal with that."
HOW HARD WAS IT KEEPING UP WITH THE TRACK?
"The track definitely tightened up for us all day today. The problem that we had is we kind of anticipated a daytime race. When NASCAR makes us go through tech at 10 o'clock and then we don't start the race until 3:30 or whenever it was, you can't do anything to adjust your car between then. You are kind of stuck with what you've got. In a situation like that maybe they should let us work on our cars a little bit before we actually have to go race and maybe we could have been a little bit better off."
MATT BORLAND, CREW CHIEF, #12 ALLTEL FORD:
YOU CAME FROM A LAP DOWN NOT ONCE BUT TWICE.
"It was definitely a long day. Ryan did a great job of fighting the leaders off to stay on the lead lap. Eventually we have to give up the lap and we then we get a lap back. It was one of those days when you just can't get track position. There's a lot of green flag running. Luckily it worked out for us and we finished eighth."
HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO STAY ON TOP OF THE CHANGING TRACK CONDITIONS?
"It was definitely tightening up the whole time. It wasn't too bad. We had to free it up every stop but the biggest thing was getting track position. It took forever because of those green flag runs."
WAS TRACK POSITION MORE CRITICAL THAN THE CHASSIS?
"Not really. Even when you did get the track position if you didn't have a good car you were going to be in trouble. The thing is, with all the greens, it got so strung out that it really didn't matter if you were a little off you could hold that position. If it would have bunched up back under yellow again it would have been pretty wild."
IT LOOKED LIKE YOU CAR GOT BETTER AND BETTER DURING THE RACE. WAS THERE ANY PARTICULAR REASON WHY?
"I think mainly track position. We were just fighting from so far back the whole time and every stop we'd be a little bit further up and that just helps a lot as far as getting some clean air and being able to run up front."