Jimmie Johnson in the Lowe's Chevrolet was the RaybestosÂ® Rookie of the race in the Aaron'S 499 at Talladega. Johnson finished seventh, his sixth top-10 of the 2002 season. He led the race once for eight laps and has now been the top finishing...
Jimmie Johnson in the Lowe's Chevrolet was the Raybestos® Rookie of the race in the Aaron'S 499 at Talladega. Johnson finished seventh, his sixth top-10 of the 2002 season. He led the race once for eight laps and has now been the top finishing Raybestos® Rookie in five of the nine races this season. He leads the Raybestos Rookie standings by 15 points (126-111) over Ryan Newman.
"That was cool. I am real happy to be able to run with these guys. Experience goes so far. It's indescribable how much I learned from Daytona to here. We tore that race car up at Daytona pretty bad and they built one and brought it here with no testing and no wind tunnel time and sat on the pole and finished in the top-10. It's an incredible accomplishment for these guys and I'm real proud of them. I said it before that I give the credit to them for qualifying and I still had to earn my credit in the race here and at other racetracks. I think we did it today running in the top-10. I had a shot at winning it. I had rookie mistake on both restarts, the first one with DJ (Dale Jarrett) and the second one Kurt Busch got by me. All in all, a good run. The cars with less downforce are going to run up front. It's just kind of how it is. I think we're still solid everywhere else we run. We've been in the top-five, top-three a few times. You just get up front and have track position. It doesn't matter where you are running these days. It can be 2.6 miles here at Talladega or it can be a half-mile Martinsville. Track position is everything."
HOW CLOSE DID YOU COME TO WINNING THE RACE?
"I had that feeling inside there those last couple or restarts. I thought after the first restart that I dodged my bullet and learned my lesson with DJ but then the second one Kurt Busch had a run on me. I guess I could have run him out of bounds. It was the end of the race; I could have done that but at the same time he could have turned me and we would have been in a pile. I know I have to race these guys all year long and I hope I earned a lot of respect from them today and the next speedway race they will work with me some more."
HOW CLOSE DID YOU COME TO THE BIG WRECK?
"Luckily, I knew it was time to go and I made some exciting moves up the center. I had the 24 (Johnson's car owner, Jeff Gordon) pushing me and man, we were coming. We came from like 15th to fourth in probably two laps. Luckily we did that because behind us I think some of the guys saw what we were doing and were jockeying for position to get in the center and they all tore themselves up. I saw the smoke in my mirror and I didn't hear the spotter say anything and then I looked back and there was no one anymore."
HOW MUCH DID YOU LEARN TODAY THAT WILL TRANSFER TO DAYTONA IN JULY?
"I made a few mistakes today but we finished (seventh). My game will keep getting cleaner and cleaner. As long as I race these guys with respect they will keep working with me and that's all that matters."
HOW ARE YOU PHYSICALLY?
"We had been running hot all day long. The water temp had been 250 (degrees), oil temp was 260, 270. The oil lines are about six inches behind me and so is the oil tank itself. It was hot, it was really hot. I was glad to get back rolling again. Once the wind hit you it got a lot better."
RYAN NEWMAN, No. 12 Attel Ford, finished 43rd. Newman retired with engine failure after completing 141 laps. Newman led the race at Talladega twice for three laps.
"Something happened in the motor. We dropped a cylinder and then another one and that's when it started smoking a little bit so I brought it in the pits. Something must have broke in the valve train. I don't know; something motor related. I had an awesome race car today. Just one of those deals, I guess."
IT LOOKED LIKE YOU HAD ONE OF THE STRONGEST CARS IN THE FIELD.
"We did. We had a really good car. There wasn't a whole lot of people who were working with us, like there were with (Dale Earnhardt) Junior and (Michael) Waltrip.
Rusty (Wallace, Newman's teammate) was just getting up there and I was looking forward to something to work with and the motor broke."