Daytona II: Raybestos Rookie preview

* Ryan Newman was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. Newman finished ninth, his eighth top-10 of the season. He has now been highest finishing rookie in seven races in 2002, including the last...

* Ryan Newman was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. Newman finished ninth, his eighth top-10 of the season. He has now been highest finishing rookie in seven races in 2002, including the last two consecutive (Michigan and Sonoma).

*   Newman became the first Raybestos® Rookie since Kenny Irwin in 1998 to
finish in the top-10 at Sonoma.  Irwin, like Newman, finished ninth.

* Thanks to his good run at Sonoma, Newman was able to cut into Jimmie Johnson's lead in the Raybestos® Rookie standings. He reduced Johnson's lead from 26 to 23 points (242-219) entering Saturday's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

* Neither Newman nor Johnson led at Sonoma.

* Johnson was the highest qualifying Raybestos® Rookie at Sonoma, taking the 15th place starting position.

* Johnson had a tough day in the Dodge/Save Mart 350. His car suffered a rear end failure with just six laps remaining in the event, leaving him with a 35th place finish.

*   Johnson's sour luck in the race also cost him in the Winston Cup points
chase.  He fell from second to fourth in the standings, 86 behind leader
Sterling Marlin.  Despite his misfortune, he gained 24 points on Marlin.

* Newman and Johnson have both finished in the top-five in the same race just once this season: The MBNA 400 at Dover. Johnson won while Newman finished fourth.

* Johnson has led more miles this season than any other driver. He has led 17 times in six races for 786.78 miles (552 laps). Tony Stewart (502) is the only other driver to lead more than 500 laps.

*   Jason Leffler was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in last year's Pepsi
400 at Daytona International Speedway.  Leffler finished 24th on the lead lap.

* Kevin Harvick was the only Raybestos® Rookie to lead the Pepsi 400. He held the top spot twice for two laps. He finished 25th, on the lead lap. Harvick and Leffler were the only freshman drivers to complete all 400 miles last year at Daytona.

* Five Raybestos® Rookies started the 2001 Pepsi 400 and four were running at the finish: Leffler, Harvick, Casey Atwood (28th), and Kurt Busch (30th). The lone exception was Andy Houston, who was sidelined by an accident after 86 laps and was credited with 43rd in the final rundown.

* The Raybestos® Rookie Class of 2001 had a strong performance in qualifying at the Pepsi 400. Three drivers qualified in the top-10. Atwood led the way, taking the fourth starting position. Houston grabbed the sixth spot followed by Harvick in 10th. The final member of the class, Kurt Busch, started 28th.

* Johnson won the pole at Charlotte, his third of the 2002 season. His lap of 28.960 seconds, 186.464 mph established a new track record at the 1.5-mile speedway. Johnson has more poles (three) than any other Winston Cup driver this season and has been the highest qualifying rookie in six races.

* Entering the Pepsi 400 at Daytona, at least one Raybestos® Rookie Contender has finished in the top-10 in 14 Winston Cup races this season. Four races have had two rookies in the top-10.

* Newman became the first rookie this season to surpass the $2 million mark in single season earnings. His fourth place finish at Dover pushed him over the mark. Newman was also the first rookie to win over $1 million this season when he finished second at Richmond.

* Raybestos® Rookie Contender Jimmie Johnson won the NAPA Auto Parts 500 at California Speedway, becoming the fourth quickest driver (13th career race) to score his first victory in the sport's modern era. Kevin Harvick won in his third career race, Ron Bouchard won in his 11th start, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. won in his 12th.

* A Raybestos® Rookie has posted multiple victories five times in NASCAR Winston Cup history: Davey Allison (two wins in 1987), Tony Stewart (three wins in 1999), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (two wins in 2000), Kevin Harvick (two wins in 2001, and Jimmie Johnson (two wins in 2002).

* A Raybestos® Rookie Contender has now won at least one race in each of the last four seasons dating back to Tony Stewart's win at Richmond in September, 1999. Other freshman drivers to win: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Richmond, 2000), Matt Kenseth (Charlotte, 2000), and Kevin Harvick (Atlanta, 2001).

* When Johnson and Newman won poles at Talladega and California in consecutive races, it was the first time since 1965 that a rookie won the pole position in back to back events. The last driver to accomplish the feat was Dick Hutcherson when he took the top starting spot at Myrtle Beach and Valdosta.

* 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.

<pre> RAYBESTOS® ROOKIE CONTENDER POINT STANDINGS

DRIVER              POINTS
Jimmie Johnson          242
Ryan Newman             219

-raybestos-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Jason Leffler , Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Sterling Marlin , Andy Houston , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Casey Atwood , Johnny Benson , Jimmie Johnson , Dick Hutcherson , Mark Martin , Davey Allison