Loudon II: Raybestos Rookie pre-race notes

News and notes fromthe Raybestos® Rookie contenders. Ryan Newman was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Newman scored his fourth second place finish of the season and collected his 12th...

News and notes fromthe Raybestos® Rookie contenders.

Ryan Newman was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Newman scored his fourth second place finish of the season and collected his 12th top-five finish. Entering Sunday's New Hampshire 300, Newman has more top-five finishes than any other Winston Cup driver. He scored his seventh top-five in the last nine races. Newman has racked up 15 top-10 finishes and has been Raybestos® Rookie of the Race 14 times this season.

The Raybestos® Rookie Class of 2002 made history during qualifying for the Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond. Jimmie Johnson won the pole for the event and Newman started second completing the first all-rookie front row in Winston Cup racing's modern era (1972-present).

Newman used his good run at Richmond to stretch his lead in the Raybestos® Rookie point standings to 15 points (316-301) over Johnson entering the New Hampshire event.

Newman led the most laps in the race at Richmond. He held the top spot three times for 145 laps. He has now led the most laps twice in 2002 (the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway was the other race).

Both Johnson and Newman led a lap at Richmond, the seventh race this season where they both led a lap in the same race. Johnson held the top spot once for one lap.

Johnson finished 13th at Richmond but climbed to third in the Winston Cup points chase. He is 72 points behind leader Sterling Marlin and 63 behind second place Mark Martin. Johnson is 10 points ahead of fourth place Jeff Gordon.

Entering the New Hampshire 300, Johnson has 15 top-10 finishes. Only two rookies in the modern era have more top-10 finishes after 26 races: Tony Stewart (16 in 1999) and Dale Earnhardt (15 in 1979).

Johnson won his fourth pole of the season at Richmond, which ties him with Bill Elliott for most poles in 2002.

Entering the New Hampshire event, Newman has been the highest qualifying Raybestos® Rookie in four of the last five races where time trials were held (Brickyard 400 through Monte Carlo 400). Newman has been highest qualifying Raybestos® Rookie 14 times in 2002.

Johnson has led more miles this season than any other Raybestos® Rookie entering Sunday's race at New Hampshire. He has led 21 times in 10 races for 818.75 miles (574 laps).

Johnson has led the most laps in two races this season: the Coca-Cola 600 and the MBNA Platinum 400.

Newman was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the New England 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway in July. He finished fifth completing all 300 laps of the event. He was the only rookie to lead a lap in the race, taking the lead once for one lap. Fellow rookie Jimmie Johnson also finished on the lead lap in 15th position. Newman was the highest qualifying rookie at New Hampshire in July, grabbing the seventh starting position.

Casey Atwood was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the 2001 New Hampshire 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Atwood claimed a 16th place finish after starting in 32nd position.

Five Raybestos® Rookies started the New Hampshire event last year and all five were running at the finish: Atwood, Kurt Busch (21st), Kevin Harvick (26th), Jason Leffler (30th), and Ron Hornaday (32nd).

No Raybestos® Rookie led a lap in the 2001 New Hampshire 300.

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
Ryan Newman             316
Jimmie Johnson          301
Shawna Robinson          81
Carl Long                31

HIGHEST FINISHING RAYBESTOS® ROOKIES BY RACE

EVENT                                   HIGHEST FINISHING ROOKIE
Daytona 500                             Ryan Newman, seventh
Subway 400                              Ryan Newman, 14th
UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400                Ryan Newman, fourth
MBNA America 500                        Jimmie Johnson, third
Carolina Dodge Dealers 400              Ryan Newman, fifth
Food City 500                           Jimmie Johnson, seventh
Samsung/RadioShack 500                  Jimmie Johnson, fourth
Virginia 500                            Jimmie Johnson, 35th
Aaron's 499                             Jimmie Johnson, seventh
NAPA Auto Parts 500                     Jimmie Johnson, first
Pontiac Excitement 400                  Ryan Newman, second
Coca-Cola Racing Family 600             Jimmie Johnson, seventh
MBNA 400                                Jimmie Johnson, first
Pocono 500                              Jimmie Johnson, third
Sirius Satellite Radio 400              Ryan Newman, third
Dodge/Save Mart 350                     Ryan Newman, ninth
Pepsi 400                               Jimmie Johnson, eighth
Tropicana 400                           Jimmie Johnson, fourth
New England 300                         Ryan Newman, fifth
Pennsylvania 500                        Ryan Newman, fifth
Brickyard 400                           Ryan Newman, fourth
Sirius Satellite Radio at The Glen      Ryan Newman, second
Pepsi 400 presented by Farmer Jack      Jimmie Johnson, seventh
Sharpie 500                             Jimmie Johnson, 34th
Mountain Dew Southern 500               Ryan Newman, second
Monte Carlo 400                         Ryan Newman, second

-raybestos-

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