Sonoma: Raybestos Rookie pre-race notes

News and notes from the Raybestos® Rookie contenders. * Ryan Newman was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the Sirius Satellite Radio 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Newman finished third, his fifth top-five of the season. He has...

News and notes from the Raybestos® Rookie contenders.

* Ryan Newman was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in the Sirius Satellite Radio 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Newman finished third, his fifth top-five of the season. He has now been highest finishing rookie in six races this season.

* Thanks to his good run at Michigan, Newman was able to cut into Jimmie Johnson's lead in the Raybestos® Rookie standings. He reduced Johnson's lead from 35 to 26 points (232-206) entering Sunday's Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Sears Point Raceway.

* Both Newman and Johnson led at Michigan. Johnson held the top spot once for 25 laps while Newman led twice for nine laps.

* Newman and Johnson have both finished in the top-five in the same race just once this season: The MBNA 400 at Dover. Johnson won while Newman finished fourth.

* Johnson remains second in Winston Cup points, but he gained on leader Sterling Marlin. Johnson trails Marlin by 110 entering Sunday's race at Sears Point, a gain of 26 points.

* Newman was the highest qualifying Raybestos® Rookie at Michigan, grabbing the sixth starting spot in time trials. This is the eighth time in 2002 Newman has been the top qualifying rookie.

* Jason Small, Raybestos® Rookie Contender in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, made his NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut at Michigan. He started 41st and became the fifth driver to make his first-career start in 2002.

* Johnson has led more miles this season than any other Raybestos® Rookie entering the Dodge/Save Mart 350. He has led 17 times in six races for 786.78 miles (552 laps). Newman has led 14 times in eight races for a total of 216.58 miles (149 laps).

* Kevin Harvick was the Raybestos® Rookie of the Race in last year's Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Sears Point Raceway. Harvick finished 14th, completing all 112 laps of the race.

* Harvick was also the highest qualifying rookie at Sears Point, posting the 12th quickest time in time trials.

* Four Raybestos® Rookies started the 2001 Sears Point event and all four were running at the finish of the race. Three of the four finished on the lead lap: Harvick, Ron Hornaday (18th), and Kurt Busch (23rd). Even more impressive was the fact that Hornaday (43rd) and Busch (41st) both used provisionals to start the race. Casey Atwood was credited with 41st in the final rundown.

* No Raybestos® Rookie led a lap at Sears Point last season. In fact, no freshman driver led at either road course race last year.

* Johnson won the pole at Charlotte, his third of the 2002 season. His lap of 28.960 seconds, 186.464 mph established a new track record at the 1.5-mile speedway. Johnson has more poles (3) than any other Winston Cup driver this season and has been highest qualifying rookie in six races.

* Newman became the first rookie this season to surpass the $2 million mark in single season earnings. His fourth place finish at Dover pushed him over the mark. Newman was also the first rookie to win over $1 million this season when he finished second at Richmond.

* Raybestos® Rookie Contender Jimmie Johnson won the NAPA Auto Parts 500 at California Speedway, becoming the fourth quickest driver (13th career race) to score his first victory in the sport's modern era. Kevin Harvick won in his third career race, Ron Bouchard won in his 11th start and Dale Earnhardt Jr. won in his 12th.

* 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 Jimmie Johnson 232 Ryan Newman 206

Highest Finishing Raybestos® Rookies By Race EVENT HIGHEST FINISHING ROOKIE Daytona 500 Ryan Newman, seventh Subway 400 Ryan Newman, 14th UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 Ryan Newman, fourth MBNA America 500 Jimmie Johnson, third Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 Ryan Newman, fifth Food City 500 Jimmie Johnson, seventh Samsung/RadioShack 500 Jimmie Johnson, fourth Virginia 500 Jimmie Johnson, 35th Aaron's 499 Jimmie Johnson, seventh NAPA Auto Parts 500 Jimmie Johnson, first Pontiac Excitement 400 Ryan Newman, second Coca-Cola Racing Family 600 Jimmie Johnson, seventh MBNA 400 Jimmie Johnson, first Pocono 500 Jimmie Johnson, third Sirius Satellite Radio 400 Ryan Newman, third

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Sterling Marlin , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Casey Atwood , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jimmie Johnson , Dick Hutcherson , Jason Small , Mark Martin