Darlington II: Jimmie Johnson preview

Team Lowe'S racing returns to the track 'too tough to tame'; Johnson hopes Darlington Raceway is as kind to him the second time around. DARLINGTON, S.C. (August 28, 2002) - Team Lowe's Racing enters this weekend's race at Darlington Raceway ...

Team Lowe'S racing returns to the track 'too tough to tame';

Johnson hopes Darlington Raceway is as kind to him the second time around.

DARLINGTON, S.C. (August 28, 2002) - Team Lowe's Racing enters this weekend's race at Darlington Raceway coming off one of the most disappointing races of the season for this young team. Rookie driver Jimmie Johnson was involved in an accident with just over 100 laps remaining in the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, costing him valuable championship points and an opportunity to extend his lead even further in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year competition.

Johnson and Team Lowe's Racing are looking to snap its "Friday funk" at Darlington. In four out of the last seven races the Lowe's team has either been forced to go to a back-up No. 48 Lowe's Chevy because of an accident during practice or been forced to a back-up engine. As a result, Team Lowe's Racing has started at or near the rear of the field in those races.

The challenge for Team Lowe's will be to qualify like they did in Darlington earlier this season, 5th, and avoid having to start from the rear of the field.

Johnson on how important it is to put Bristol behind him for the next race

"It's real important. There are a lot of things that happen that frustrate you. If you don't get over them and put them away and move on, there's a lot on the line that they can affect. Mentally, if you have actions on the race track, NASCAR's going to fine you, penalize you, take points away from you - something's going to happen. So, yeah, it's very important to get it behind you and move on. At the same time, it's very difficult. Your livelihood is at stake. It's a hard thing to do."

Johnson comments on turn two at Darlington

"In qualifying trim, you don't really have to let out of the gas too much in the center of (turns) 1 and 2. The reason our line is so high through (turns) one and two is so that we can get the right angle to exit off of turn 2 and not hit the wall. In qualifying trim, when you have a lot of grip in the tires, you have a lot better shot at making it. You can control it a little bit better. But in a race when you're in traffic and you lose downforce to the nose of the car, you sometimes even have to use the brake to get the nose to sag to turn. If not, the car will just keep going straight and the car will run into the wall on the right side. Every lap, you can count on tensing up on the exit of turn 2 and hope that you make it."

Jimmie Johnson Fast Facts

* Ranks fifth in the Winston Cup Series championship standings, 145 points out of first

* Has won two NASCAR Winston Cup races this season (California and Dover)

* Is tied for the fastest modern day driver to reach two wins

* Has two wins, five top-five and 14 top-10 finishes in 24 races

* Leads the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Competition by 3 points (297-294)

* Has been the highest finishing rookie 13 times this season

* The 14 top-10 finishes are the second most in the Winston Cup Series (Las Vegas - 6th, Atlanta - 3rd, Darlington - 6th, Bristol - 7th, Texas - 6th, Talladega - 7th, California - 1st, Lowe's Motor Speedway - 7th, Dover - 1st, Pocono - 3rd, Daytona (Pepsi 400) - 8th, Chicagoland - 4th, Indianapolis - 9th and Michigan - 7th)

* Has three Bud Pole positions this season, second most in NASCAR Winston Cup (Daytona, Talladega and Lowe's Motor Speedway)

* Only the third rookie in history to win the Daytona 500 pole

* Only the second rookie in history to win a pole at Talladega Superspeedway

* Holds the NWC qualifying record at Lowe's Motor Speedway

* Has led eight Winston Cup Series races this season (Las Vegas, Talladega, California, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Dover, Michigan, Chicago and Pocono) Won his first Winston Cup race of his career at California Speedway, his home racetrack

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson