Richmond: Jimmie Johnson preview

Johnson riding high following first win. Team Lowe's Racing tries to make it two in a row at Richmond. RICHMOND, Va. (May 1, 2002) -- Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse Chevrolet, is riding high following his...

Johnson riding high following first win.
Team Lowe's Racing tries to make it two in a row at Richmond.

RICHMOND, Va. (May 1, 2002) -- Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse Chevrolet, is riding high following his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series victory at his home track, California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Johnson and his Lowe's teammates are hoping to continue their hot streak this weekend at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va.

Johnson continues to impress in his rookie season. With Sunday's victory, Johnson improved to fifth overall in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship standings, just 20 points out of second place. For the fifth consecutive week, Johnson was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race and widened his lead to 26 points in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year competition.

Team Lowe's Racing is hoping to improve on its short track finishes this season. While Johnson had success at Bristol Motor Speedway with a seventh-place finish, he had his worst finish of the season at Martinsville, 35th, following an ignition problem and a broken rear gear. The Lowe's team is hoping to prove that Bristol Motor Speedway is the norm result on short tracks.

Jimmie Johnson Fast Facts

* Ranks fifth in the Winston Cup Series Championship standings

* Leads the Raybestos Rookie of the Year competition by 26 points (147-121)

* Won his first Winston Cup race this season at California Speedway, his home racetrack

* Has one win, two top-five and seven top-10 finishes

* The seven top-10 finishes are second most in the Winston Cup Series (Las Vegas - 6th, Atlanta - 3rd, Darlington - 6th, Bristol - 7th, Texas - 6th, Talladega - 7th and California - 1st)

* Has the two top finishes for rookies this season - California, 1st; and Atlanta, 3rd

* Has two Bud Pole positions this season - , Daytona and Talladega

* Only the third rookie in history to win the Daytona 500 pole

* Only the second rookie in history to win a pole at Talladega Superspeedway

* The first driver to qualify this season for the 2003 Bud Shootout

* Has led three Winston Cup Series races this season (Las Vegas, Talladega and California)

* Has led the most laps by a rookie this season (76 laps for 154.28 miles)

* Won the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series event at Chicagoland Speedway in 2001

No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet Fast Facts

* Team Lowe's Racing will bring car 4847

* This is the same race car that and teammate Jeff Gordon has used at the last three races at Richmond International Raceway. Out of the three races, Gordon won the Fall race in 2000, finished second in the Spring 2001 race and took the pole in the Fall 2001 race.xxxxxx

Jimmie Johnson on what is it like to race at Richmond International Raceway?

"I don't know what to expect heading to Richmond next weekend. I haven't had a great deal of success during my four races in the Busch Series there. I believe I've had two top-15 finishes at Richmond and both came in Spring races. The Lowe's Chevrolet Winston Cup race car suits my driving style better than the Busch race cars did, so I don't know what to expect. Everything else this season has been more than what I've expected, so I hope to see more of the same at Richmond.

"Every Spring the Richmond track is resealed, so its surface is slippery. Using the brakes effectively and maintaining them will be one of the keys to success there. As in all short track races, track position will be extremely important, so qualifying will be important.

"The Lowe's team is looking to duplicate the success we had at Bristol and hopefully avoid the long day we had at Martinsville."

Jimmie Johnson on last weekend's win

"This is unbelievable. To be this competitive in Winston Cup racing has been a dream of mine and I just can't believe it came true. It's just so special to win in my own home state and in front of all my friends and family. It's just incredible. Thank you California.

"We were really loose at the start of the runs and as the tires got older, the car got better and better. We were going to go for two (tires), but we saw some guys earlier that just took gas only and beat us out of the pits. Chad (Knaus, crew chief) made the call for gas only and I was able to hold those guys off. Track position was the key. I just tried not to let them line up behind me and draft down the straightaways and take the line in the corner and we were in good shape."

Chad Knaus on his pit strategy to only take gas

"Oh, as soon as I did it, Mr. Hendrick was sitting next to me and I said, 'You've got to let me down, I'm going to go throw-up. I was extremely nervous. I saw those guys putting on tires and I had my spotter up on top telling me what those guys were doing and when Jimmie was almost half-way down pit road he told me they were taking two tires. But the car was balanced well. And once you get out front, if you have a good balanced race car, you can hold those guys off. We've got the best group of guys in Winston Cup right now. We are coming up strong. They're intelligent they're experienced and they're exuberant. I'm just so excited for these guys."

Jeff Gordon on Team Lowe's Racing's first win

"I'm really proud of these guys and thankful. You see it all come together with all the people and all the hard work and Jimmie was certainly a big part of it. I tell you, I couldn't be more thrilled. I'm kind of in shock like Jimmie is, I guess right now at just 13 races into the season.

"If you would have asked me last year, I would have said we would have to be patient and that it would take a while and you just never know. I do know that Hendrick Motorsports has best race teams and resources out there. The No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet team has contributed this Lowe's team come along. But these guys went out there and did it we're happy for Lowe's too. We're happy to get them a win here and we're looking forward to many more."

Jeff Gordon on Jimmie Johnson

"I never doubted him. I drove against him in the Busch Series. I saw him hanging that thing out and it looked to me that he was getting an awful lot out of the cars he was driving. So I knew if you put him in good racecars in Winston Cup that he'd do a great job over here too. I think he'll be the first one to tell you that you've got to have the right people behind you and the right car underneath you. You can't do it on your own. And you've got to have the right driver in the seat and he's certainly the right guy."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Chad Knaus
Teams Hendrick Motorsports