Rockingham: Jimmie Johnson preview

'The Rock' has been more of a thorn in Team Lowe's side. Johnson hopes to avoid problems for the third straight race at 'The Rock' ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 19, 2002) - If there was ever a track that Team Lowe's Racing would not like to race on,...

'The Rock' has been more of a thorn in Team Lowe's side.
Johnson hopes to avoid problems for the third straight race at 'The Rock'

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 19, 2002) - If there was ever a track that Team Lowe's Racing would not like to race on, you would think it would be North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C. The team's average finish out of its two races last season was 33rd. Its average start is not all that much better at 21st. But the funny thing is, Team Lowe's cannot wait to get there and prove that those numbers are no indication of how they can really run the 1.017 mile oval.

Jimmie Johnson on racing at North Carolina Speedway

"I can't wait to get back to that place. Last season we had some fluke things happen to us at each race that cost us a lot of points and left everyone thinking that Rockingham is one of our worst tracks. Actually, I think it is one of our best tracks and a place that we will play a role in the outcome.

"In the first race, we started 11th and were up to seventh place when we came in for one of our first stops. David Bryant was our front tire carrier and he came around the car and before I knew it, the No. 6 race car had hit him and severely hurt his ankle. What was shaping up to be a solid stop turned into a 27 second stop and we went from seventh to 27th in a matter of moments.

"In the second race, we were running really well and in the top five when I had a vibration on the Lowe's Chevy after a pit stop. The cause was a loose lug nut on one of the rear tires, which ended up stripping the hub and forced us to go behind the wall and replace it. We lost valuable time and this hit us unfortunately on the heels of a 22nd place finish the week before in Atlanta. Put those two finishes together, and that pretty much took us out of the championship hunt with only two races remaining."

Johnson on entering the 2003 season with some experience

"Remember back in high school when you were a freshman walking the halls and you didn't know what to expect or what was going on? When you came back in your sophomore year, you had somebody to pick on and you weren't being the one picked on. It's a totally different deal. I think we've all been through it in different ways in our lives and it really isn't any different in motorsports."

Chad Knaus on Rockingham

"I don't believe in good luck or bad luck. We had some problems last season at Rockingham that cost us some points. Some of the circumstances were out of our control, but we put ourselves into that position. This season the guys have worked really hard on getting the new Monte Carlo setup for these intermediate tracks. Regardless of what the stats show from our finishes last season, Jimmie runs well at this place and I think he really likes it. I will go as far as saying Jimmie looked as good in the first race at Rockingham as he did in the second race and that wasn't the cast on other tracks.

"Car wise, we are going to be racing a brand new Chevy, but one that we had a strong test with in Las Vegas at the end of January. After two Winston Cup races at Rockingham, I think that it would be very hard for this team to have another sub par result here."

Jimmie Johnson Fast Facts

* Tied for second in the Winston Cup championship standings, 15 points behind the leader

* Has one top five finish on the season - (Daytona - 3rd)

* Lead seven laps in the Daytona 500

No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet Fast Facts

* Team Lowe's Racing will bring car 4873

* This is a brand new Lowe's Chevy that was tested in Las Vegas at the end of June and posted the second fastest lap time (fastest in race trim) out of the four day session.

Broadcast Schedule
Qualifying - Friday, Feb. 21 at 3 p.m. (ET) on FOX Sports Net; 3 p.m. (ET) on MRN

Race - Sunday, Feb. 23 at 12:30 p.m. (ET) on FOX; 12:30 p.m. (ET) on MRN

-hm/lowe's-

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