Loudon: Raybestos Rookie pre-race notes

* Jimmie Johnson was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Johnson finished fourth, his fifth top-five and 12th top-10 finish of the season. He has now been highest finishing rookie in 11 races. * ...

* Jimmie Johnson was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Johnson finished fourth, his fifth top-five and 12th top-10 finish of the season. He has now been highest finishing rookie in 11 races.

* Johnson stretched his lead in the Raybestos® Rookie standings to 29 points (256-229) over Ryan Newman entering Sunday's New England 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

* Newman had a good run in the Tropicana 400. He finished fifth, his sixth top-five of the season.

* The Tropicana 400 was only the second race this season where Raybestos® Rookies Johnson and Newman both finished in the top-five. The other race was the MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover when Johnson won and Newman finished fourth.

* Newman led more laps than any other driver at Chicagoland Speedway, the first time this season he has led the most laps in a Winston Cup race. He held the top spot twice for 87 laps. Fellow rookie Johnson has led the most laps in two races this season: the Coca-Cola 600 and the MBNA Platinum 400.

* Johnson also led at Chicagoland Speedway (once for two laps). Entering Sunday's race at New Hampshire, both Raybestos® Rookies have led laps in the same event five times.

* Newman took highest qualifying Raybestos® Rookie honors in grand style at Chicagoland Speedway, winning the pole position. The pole was his second of the 2002 season and third of his 26 race Winston Cup career. He became the first repeat pole winner in 2002, joining fellow Raybestos® Rookie Jimmie Johnson, Ricky Craven, Bill Elliott, and Jeff Gordon. Newman has been the highest qualifying Raybestos® Rookie in nine races this season.

* Johnson remains third in the Winston Cup points chase, 40 behind second place Mark Martin and 89 behind leader Sterling Marlin. Johnson holds a six point advantage over fourth place Jeff Gordon and 68 over fifth place Tony Stewart.

* Johnson has led more miles this season than any other driver. He has led 18 times in seven races for 789.78 miles (552 laps). Tony Stewart (502) is the only other driver to lead more than 500 laps.

* Kevin Harvick was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the New England 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Harvick finished eighth, the only rookie to log a top-10 finish in the event. He finished on the lead lap, completing all 300 laps.

* Casey Atwood had a good run in the New England 300, coming away with a 12th place finish. Like Harvick, Atwood also completed all 300 laps of the event.

* Both Harvick and Atwood led the July race at New Hampshire. Atwood led once for 13 laps while Harvick held the top spot once for three laps.

* Four of the five Raybestos® Rookies that started the New England 300 were running at the finish of the race: Harvick, Atwood, Jason Leffler (27th) and Ron Hornaday (34th). Overheating problems sidelined Kurt Busch, leaving him with a 42nd place finish.

* Hornaday was the highest qualifying Raybestos® Rookie at New Hampshire last July, earning the 11th starting position. It was the first time in 2001 that Hornaday took home the honor.

* 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.

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

* 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          274
Ryan Newman             245
Shawna Robinson          73

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

-raybestos-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , 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 , Ricky Craven , Dick Hutcherson , Mark Martin , Davey Allison