Rockingham II: Raybestos Rookie qualifying report

JIMMIE JOHNSON, ...

JIMMIE JOHNSON, #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, Qualified 31st.

"We've been pretty loose fighting some different conditions and we were a little loose there in qualifying. The way the times are so close being off a little bit is going to cost us a lot of spots. That's identical to what we ran in practice and it had us 15th so at least we didn't slow down any. It looks like everybody else is picking up a little bit. After our first run out on the track, we've been struggling a little bit trying to figure out what we needed to do. We made some great changes to the car but without another run there were other areas of the corner that it affected. We had been really tight in and we made some great changes and the car turned in real well but now the exit was thrown out the window and we were real loose on the exit and both laps I had to lift real late coming off of two. When you are out of the gas on the straightaway you are losing a lot of time. We made a solid try at it. We probably aren't going to start where we want but we'll work our way up through there on Sunday."

RYAN NEWMAN in the #12 Alltel Ford won the Pole for Sunday's Pop Secret 400 at North Carolina Speedway. The pole is Newman's fifth of the 2002 season. He has won poles for two of the past three races and has been top qualifying Raybestos Rookie in 18 races. Newman will start in the top-10 for the 23rd time this season. He was the Raybestos Rookie of the race at Rockingham in February, collecting a 14th place finish.

"That's two laps and the race is a totally different race. I'm happy to have a good run in qualifying here for the Alltel Ford and see what we can do. Buddy Baker was pretty instrumental in helping me out at this racetrack. He's got a great school here and I wanted to put a little plug in there for him."

WHAT DID BUDDY BAKER TELL YOU?

"Like anything else, go fast. You've got to know what the racecar wants and what the racetrack wants and that's a good combination to have here."

WINNING POLES IS IMPORTANT TO YOU. YOU REALLY WANT THAT AWARD, DON'T YOU?

"Without a doubt. It's an award and that's what we go for is these awards. Anything you can beat somebody else at when you've got 40-some other competitors in the garage is what we're here for. I'm happy to have a good run in the Alltel Ford. This is one small race compared to Sunday's race."

DO YOU LIKE THIS TRACK?

"I really like the racetrack. It's a lot of fun and it's a driver's racetrack, like Darlington, where the tires fall off, the grip falls off, you've got to move around on the racetrack. There are a lot of grooves here."

HOW HARD IS IT TO RUN THE PERFECT LAP HERE AT ROCKINGHAM?

"Running a perfect lap is no different that running the best lap that the car has. I'm just pretty much at the mercy of what the racecar has to offer. I just go out there and do the best I can and fortunately the guys did a good job preparing a good car."

MATT BORLAND, CREW CHIEF, #12 ALLTEL FORD:

"It was an awesome job by everybody.  Ryan put in an awesome lap and the guys
had the car setup great fro the get-go.  We didn't have to do a whole lot.
We tried some different shock stuff.  It was a good day."

HAS THIS CAR RUN WELL AT OTHER TRACKS THIS SEASON?

"Yes and no.  It qualified second at Atlanta and took a provisional at Texas
(laughs) and then qualified well at Dover.  It's about 50-50."

WHY DID YOU RUN SO WELL TODAY IN PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING?

"I'm not sure (laughs). We struggled here a lot in the spring race. It's definitely an improvement for us to come back here and qualify well. Hopefully we can do the same thing in race trim and run good tomorrow."

HOW HARD IS IT TO TRANSFER OVER TO RACE SETUP HERE?

"It depends on the weekend. Some weekends it seems like it transfers right over with no problems and other weekends you chase it forever. We'll see tomorrow."

AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON, DID YOU THINK THIS TEAM WOULD WIN FIVE POLES BY NOVEMBER 1?

"No.  We hoped to be able to do that but about halfway through the season it
was looking pretty rough.  It's been clicking here lately so it's good."

®Raybestos is a registered trademark licensed to Brake Parts Inc. by Raybestos Products Company

-raybestos-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Buddy Baker