Jimmie Johnson in the Lowe'S Chevrolet was the RaybestosÂ® Rookie of the race in the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Johnson finished fourth, His fifth top-five of the 2002 season. He has now been highest finishing RaybestosÂ® Rookie In...
Jimmie Johnson in the Lowe'S Chevrolet was the Raybestos® Rookie of the race in the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Johnson finished fourth, His fifth top-five of the 2002 season. He has now been highest finishing Raybestos® Rookie In 11 races this season. He unofficially leads the Raybestos® Rookie standings by 28 points (265-237).
"It's incredible. These guys at Hendrick Motorsports on this Lowe's number 48 car have been giving me great cars. We don't really have backup cars but we had to unload one that we didn't intend on racing and come back finish fourth. We passed more cars than anyone all day long and were the fastest in a long of segments but just didn't have the track position. We're not upset at all to come back and finish fourth through this. It was an incredible day for the Lowe's Monte Carlo."
TALK ABOUT RACING WITH BILL ELLIOTT AND OTHER CARS FOR POSITION NEAR THE END OF THE RACE.
"It's so hard to get a run because you are stuck behind somebody and when you pull up on them down the straightaway you push them out ahead of you. When you had a run in the corner you had to do something with it. I tried the top and it worked a couple of times. I tried the apron and it worked once; just anywhere that I could go trying to keep my momentum on my side to clear somebody to get past them."
COULD YOU TELL THAT THERE WERE TWO GROOVES OUT THERE TODAY?
"In one and two the preferred line was still on the bottom but you could get a lap or two out there and work out a path. It wasn't something that you could do all day."
IT LOOKED LIKE YOU HAD A CLEAN RUN TO THE FRONT.
"I dodged a lot of stuff. There were a lot of things that came up that it was lucky that I missed but a great racecar and great stuff from Hendrick Motorsports. It worked great."
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF FOR THE LOWE'S CHEVROLET:
HOW DID YOU GUYS GET TO THE FRONT, SINCE PASSING IS SO DIFICULT AT CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY.
"That's one of the major misconceptions of this racetrack. Any racetrack where the guys get out there and they get spread out like that, it's not easy to pass but you can pass. That's the great thing about Chicagoland Speedway: it's a wide racetrack and the top groove is coming in. We made a lot of passes up high today. I tell you what, that Lowe's Chevrolet was hooked up and Jimmie Johnson was hooked up also."
YOU GUYS WENT TO A BACKUP CAR FOR THE RACE. WAS IT THE SAME CAR YOU HAD AT DOVER?
"That was our Dover racecar. It's kind of funny because that car is not really made for a place like this. This Lowe's crew buckled down today and made a lot of adjustments and a lot of changes on that racecar and it was well worth it."
HOW HARD WAS IT TO KEEP THE TEAM FOCUSED AFTER THE MISFORTUNE IN PRACTICE FRIDAY?
"That's the good thing about these guys: they rally up and they play hardball. When it gets rough, they get tougher and that's the good thing about these guys. Everybody says that we're a rookie team but these guys have proven themselves to be veterans already."
JOHNSON PRESS CONFERENCE
"I've been real fond of the racetrack, obviously with the Busch win here last year but then we unloaded for practice and I backed one in (over) in turn three. We had to rebound from that and there is a lot of things that go on inside you head after that. I just can't say enough about this team and how we pull together as a team. You can sit around and tell one another get over it and shrug it off, we're going to be okay but until you actually go out there and do it, really believe it in you heart, it's a different story. These guys believe in me and I believe in them and this group. We had great pit stops, a great racecar, and I think we passed more cars than anyone today coming from 37th up to second or third at one time. I will never, ever win a race on fuel mileage. The whole strategy that played out always cycled out wrong for us and we'd end up in 20th after each caution when we worked our way up inside the top-five. It was a lot of hard work out there. I'm very thankful it all turned out for us in the end with a top-five finish for the Lowe's Monte Carlo."
RYAN NEWMAN, IN THE NO. 12 ALLTEL/MOBIL 1 FORD, FINISHED FIFTH.
TALK ABOUT MAKING UP ALL THOSE SPOTS IN THE LAST 20 LAPS.
"It was tough. When you have a good racecar you can do that. It's just unfortunate that we cut that right front tire. I don't know what happened. It just went down."
DO YOU THINK AT THE END OF THE RACE WHEN YOU HAD FRESHER TIRES THAT HELPED YOU COME UP THROUGH THE PACK?
"A little bit. I mean, we ran away from everybody when we were out front. We were definitely the guys to beat. It's all about track position. Goodyear brought a good tire but I guess sometimes it might be too good."
YOU HAD A GOOD CAR ALL DAY AND IT LOOKED LIKE YOU HAD THE CAR TO BEAT.
"We definitely did. All weekend we've had a great car. It's a great team effort. Our engines were awesome today. It's just unfortunate for it to turn out the way that it did. We still got a top-five out of it and that's a lot better than some of our finishes this year."
YOU ALSO HAD A SLIGHT PROBLEM ON A PIT STOP EARLIER IN THE RACE.
"I don't know if we missed the jack stob or what but it fell off the jack and we had to get it back up. It cost us a couple of second there but nevertheless we fought back."
MATT BORLAND, CREW CHIEF FOR THE ALLTEL.MOBIL 1 FORD:
"He did a heck of a job. He's pretty impressive. When it comes down to 20 to go he's about the best there is out there."
DID YOU CUT THE TIRE WHEN YOU HAD COME INTO THE PITS?
"It's so hard to tell once they blow. They come completely apart. It's hard to say whether he ran over debris or what it was. Goodyear had good tires here and it's just an unfortunate deal."