Martinsville II: Raybestos Rookie preview

" Raybestos® Rookie Contender Jimmie Johnson was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Johnson placed sixth, his 19th top-10 of the season and second top-10 in the last three races. He has now...

" Raybestos® Rookie Contender Jimmie Johnson was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Johnson placed sixth, his 19th top-10 of the season and second top-10 in the last three races. He has now finished in the top-10 in two of his three career starts at Charlotte. Johnson was the only Raybestos® Rookie to lead a lap in the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte, holding the top spot three times for 66 laps. He collected Raybestos® Rookie of the Race honors for the 15th time this season.

" Johnson used his good run at Charlotte to chop four points off Ryan Newman's lead in the Raybestos® Rookie standings. He trails Newman by 24 points (336-312) entering the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

" Johnson moves up from third to second in Winston Cup points, 97 behind leader Tony Stewart. He leads third place Mark Martin by 25 and fourth place Newman by 68 points.

" Newman's eighth place finish at Charlotte was record breaking. He collected his 20th top-10 of the 2002 season which breaks the record for most top-10 finishes in a single season by a Raybestos® Rookie. The previous record was held by Tony Stewart in 1999 when he scored 19 top-10 finishes.

" Newman finished eighth at Charlotte, his seventh consecutive finish of eighth or better and remains fourth in Winston Cup points. Even more impressive about Newman's good run at Charlotte was the fact that he was forced to start at the tail end of the field after switching to a backup car for the race. Newman was involved in an accident in practice the day before the race and was forced the make the change. He trails third place Mark Martin by 43 points and enjoys a 17-point edge on fifth place (and teammate) Rusty Wallace.

" Raybestos® Rookie Newman and Jimmie Johnson have both finished in the top-10 in 11 of the 31 races in 2002.

" Newman and Johnson became the third pair of Raybestos® Rookies to win in their rookie season. They joined Morgan Shepherd (Martinsville) and Ron Bouchard (Talladega) in 1981 and Matt Kenseth (Charlotte) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Texas and Richmond) in 2000.

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

" Entering the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville, Newman has been the highest qualifying Raybestos® Rookie in six of the last eight races where time trials were held (Brickyard 400 through EA Sports 500). Newman has been highest qualifying Raybestos® Rookie 16 times in 2002.

" Johnson has led more miles this season than any other Raybestos® Rookie entering the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte. He has led 28 times in 12 races for 1,087.75 miles (810 laps).

" Johnson has led the most laps in three races this season: Coca-Cola 600, MBNA Platinum 400, and MBNA All-American Heroes 400.

" Both Johnson and Newman struggled in the Virginia 500 this April at Martinsville Speedway. Neither driver finished the race: Newman dropped out with overheating problems and finished 41st while Johnson parked his car with a vibration and collected a 35th place finish. Neither driver led a lap in the race.

" Ron Hornaday was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the 2001 Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Hornaday finished 18th, the only first year driver to finish on the lead lap. He was also the highest qualifying rookie, taking the 17th starting position.

" Three of the five Raybestos® Rookies that started the Martinsville event led at least one lap in the race: Kurt Busch (once for 38 laps), Kevin Harvick (once for 20 laps) and Casey Atwood (once for one lap).

" All five Raybestos® Rookies that started the Martinsville race were running at the finish of the event: Hornaday, Harvick (22nd), Atwood (25th), Busch (35th) and Jason Leffler (37th).

" Three Raybestos Rookies were running at the finish of the Charlotte event: Harvick, Kurt Busch (22nd) and Casey Atwood (24th). Engine failure sidelined Ron Hornaday (38th) while Jason Leffler was involved in an accident and was credited with a 43rd place finish.

" 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             336
Jimmie Johnson          312
Shawna Robinson          81
Carl Long                34

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