DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (June 6, 2002) -- When looking ahead to see who might sit on the pole for the 44th annual Pepsi 400 on July 6, Jimmie Johnson's name should be at the top of the list. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Home Improvement...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (June 6, 2002) -- When looking ahead to see who might sit on the pole for the 44th annual Pepsi 400 on July 6, Jimmie Johnson's name should be at the top of the list.
The driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet began his rookie Winston Cup season by winning the Bud Pole Award for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 9 and qualifying for the 2003 Budweiser Shootout.
The 26-year-old native of El Cajon, Calif., joined Loy Allen and Mike Skinner as the only rookies to capture the Daytona 500 pole when he blistered a lap of 185.831 mph around the famed 2.5-mile tri-oval.
"It was a great spotlight," said Johnson, who shared the front row of the Daytona 500 with Kevin Harvick. "There were positives and negatives to it. We were on top of the world and only one way to go, which was down."
Johnson, who finished 15th in the Daytona 500, will look to repeat as the pole winner at Daytona during Bud Pole Qualifying for the Pepsi 400 on July 4 at 8:15 p.m.
The top 36 starting positions for the Pepsi 400 will be secured with speed during Bud Pole Qualifying while the final seven positions will be filled with provisionals.
Following qualifying for the Pepsi 400, there will be a fireworks show and the Jani-King Paul Revere 250 Grand American Road Racing Series race.
If Johnson were able to win the Bud Pole Award for the Pepsi 400, it would be the 13th time a driver has won both the Daytona 500 pole and the Pepsi 400 pole in the same year. Dale Jarrett most recently swept the poles at Daytona in 2000.
Entering Speedweeks in February, there was plenty of pressure on Johnson to qualify for the Daytona 500. He was driving for a new team owned by Rick Hendrick and four-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon and didn't have the luxury of any provisionals.
The only way Johnson could crack the 43-car field for the Daytona 500 was either with a fast qualifying lap or through the Gatorade 125's. Johnson wasted no time qualifying for the "Great American Race" when he won the pole position on Feb. 9.
Entering the July 6 Pepsi 400, Johnson now has got two Winston Cup restrictor-plate races under his belt. He hopes he can parlay his education in restrictor-plate races into a solid finish in the Pepsi 400 on July 6.
"The more experience the better, especially if this rules package stays the way that it is," said Johnson, who finished fourth in the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway
To purchase tickets for the Pepsi 400 and the STACKER 2/GNC Live Well 250 NASCAR Busch Series race, go online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.