Rockingham II: Jimmie Johnson preview

Team Lowe's Racing hopes to rebound at 'The Rock' 22nd-place finish dropped Team Lowe's to third overall. ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Oct. 29, 2002) - Team Lowe's Racing will travel to nearby Rockingham, N.C. to try to return to form in the Pop Secret...

Team Lowe's Racing hopes to rebound at 'The Rock'
22nd-place finish dropped Team Lowe's to third overall.

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Oct. 29, 2002) - Team Lowe's Racing will travel to nearby Rockingham, N.C. to try to return to form in the Pop Secret 400 at North Carolina Speedway. In addition to the motivation left from last weekend's 22nd-place finish, Johnson and the rest of Team Lowe's Racing would like to prove that its 28th-place finish earlier this season at North Carolina Speedway was a fluke. Unfortunately the team's first attempt at Rockingham resulted in a substantial amount of lost time and laps during an early pit stop when its front tire changer was hit by another race car on pit road.

Jimmie Johnson on racing at North Carolina Speedway

"I'm looking forward to returning to Rockingham. Last time there we were having a good run and we were in the top 10 until our front tire changer was hit on pit road by the No. 6 race car. That cost us some valuable track position that we weren't able to make up. Thankfully, David (Bryant) is alright now, but it was a scary situation. So, I don't think that our finish earlier this season really shows how we can run there.

"I never had that much success in Rockingham in the Busch Series, but the crew guys have done a great job all season long of providing me with great Chevy Monte Carlos and I've been able to have some success at tracks I struggled on in the Busch series. I'm confident that we'll have a solid run next weekend.

"Rockingham is similar to Darlington in they way that the track is so rough and takes a toll on your tires. In addition, just like Darlington, you need to have a good handling race car to get around and you need to have patience and not force issues or overdrive the vehicle or you'll just get yourself in trouble. I've learned a lot this season and I'm confident that a lot of it will apply to the race next weekend. If we can remain out of trouble, we should have a good run and hopefully we can have a strong finish and improve our position in the points standings."

With only three races left and 150 points behind Tony Stewart, is there more pressure

"When you're coming down to the end and this is what you're been racing all season for, the pressure's there. We've tried to not put a lot of pressure on ourselves throughout the season. In the middle part of the season, we put the most pressure on ourselves. We learned some lessons from that. And now, the pressure's on and there'll always be pressure in some form - regardless of where you are in points or in your career as a driver or a team. It's just something you get used to. We're just going to attack the rest of the season and see where it all falls out. And however it falls together, we've had a season that's been incredible and I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Have you and Chad Knaus looked at the numbers and what you'd have to do to win the title now

"Before Atlanta, we talked about it. But now, there isn't any number crunching that's going to work. It's pretty simple. Tony (Stewart) is going to have to have a bad day like we did to put us back in it (points chase). We just need to go out and fight hard and try to stay ahead of Mark (Martin) in points and try to beat Ryan (Newman) in the Rookie of the Year battle. If we get thrown a bone and Tony (Stewart) has some bad luck, then we've got our race for the championship back."

After a disappointing race, how quickly does the team re-group

"It (disappointment) lingers and it changes from week to week. But when you give 100 percent and come up short, it's just one of those things. We all tried as hard as we could. We just had a bad day. It's just unfortunate that we had a bad day at the end of the season when it's so important to collect points, but that's just how it is. It'll sting for a couple of days but we've got to switch our minds to Rockingham and go there and do as well as we can."

Jimmie Johnson Fast Facts
* Ranks third in the Winston Cup Series championship standings, 150 points behind the leader
* Is the first Raybestos Rookie contender in history to lead the Winston Cup points race
* Has won three NASCAR Winston Cup races this season (California, Dover - Spring and Fall), tying the rookie record for wins in a season
* Is tied for the fastest modern day driver to reach two wins
* Has three wins, six top-five and 20 top-10 finishes in 33 races
* Has four Bud Pole positions this season, tied for the most in NASCAR Winston Cup (, Daytona, Talladega, Lowe's Motor Speedway and Richmond)
* Is 20 points back in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Competition (338-318)
* Has been the highest finishing rookie 16 times this season
* The 20 top-10 finishes is second most in the Winston Cup Series (Las Vegas - 6th, Atlanta - 3rd, Darlington - 6th, Bristol - 7th, Texas - 6th, Talladega - 7th, California - 1st, Lowe's Motor Speedway (Spring) - 7th, Dover (Spring) - 1st, Pocono - 3rd, Daytona (Pepsi 400) - 8th, Chicagoland - 4th, Indianapolis - 9th, Michigan - 7th, Darlington - 9th and New Hampshire - 9th, Dover (Fall) - 1st, Kansas - 10th, Lowe's Motor Speedway (Fall) - 6th and Martinsville (Fall) - 6th)
* 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
* Holds the NWC qualifying record at Lowe's Motor Speedway
* Has led 12 Winston Cup Series races this season (Las Vegas, Talladega, California, Lowe's Motor Speedway (Spring and Fall), Dover (Spring and Fall), Michigan, Chicago, Pocono, Darlington (Fall) and Richmond (Fall))

Jimmie Johnson at North Carolina Speedway
* In one Winston Cup race, Johnson started 11th and finished 28th
* In the Busch Series, 14th was his average qualifying position and 17th was his average finishing position
* His Busch record at North Carolina Speedway is:
* Alltel 200 - 2001(Spring): started 17th and finished 13th
* Sam's Club 200 - 2001 (Fall): started 10th and finished 23rd
* Alltel 200 - 2000 (Spring): started 17th and finished 22nd
* Sam's Club 200 - 2000 (Fall): started 14th and finished 13th

No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet Fast Facts
* Team Lowe's Racing will bring car 4866
* This is the same Lowe's Chevy that Johnson during both of the Darlington races, the Michigan race in August and the Pocono race in June.

-hm/lowe's-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson , Chad Knaus