Johnson wins big in record Winston
Sunday, May 18, 2003
CONCORD, N.C. -- Jimmie Johnson became a $1 million man Saturday night by racing away to win The Winston and a record cash prize.
Johnson took the lead away from teammate Jeff Gordon three laps into the final 20-lap segment, then pulled away to an easy victory over Kurt Busch in NASCAR's annual all-star race.
"This thing is going to be nice!" he yelled over his radio. "We're going back to Victory Lane. We did it!"
Johnson almost won this race as a rookie last year, taking the first two segments and $100,000 in bonus money.
But in a unique twist to the all-star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, the fans vote on how they want the field inverted for the final segment. They always choose to invert the maximum 10 cars, and Johnson was shuffled to the back of the pack last year and ended up fifth at the end of the night.
So his Hendrick Motorsports team wasted no time this year trying to win the first two segments, instead settling in for a run over the final 20-lap sprint.
He finished the second segment in seventh place, and moved up to fourth on the inversion. It put him right behind Gordon on the grid, and he followed his teammate past leader Sterling Marlin on the restart.
Then he set his sights on Gordon, and passed him two laps later. No one was catching Johnson from there.
"He is the best driver I have ever seen at Lowe's Motor Speedway," crew chief Chad Knaus said.
Non-qualifiers wait another day to try for Indy 500 spot
INDIANAPOLIS -- Robby McGehee came to Indianapolis on Saturday hoping to take a few laps around the 2 1/2-mile oval.
That didn't happen. Rain forced cancellation of practice and postponed McGehee's return to the track.
He's been without a ride since Texas last September, and today he will have 45 minutes to get acclimated to his new car before qualifying begins.
It's not the ideal way to prepare for the Indianapolis 500, but for a last-minute addition, it's much better than the alternative.
"It's important for me because I haven't been in a car for a while," he said. "I don't think it will take long, it's kind of like riding a bike."
McGehee is the most recent addition to the list of non-qualifiers hoping to start in the May 25 Indianapolis 500. Nine are expected to try to fill the 33-car field during the final round of time trials today.
Rain wipes out ATPR events for second straight week
BENTON, Mo. -- Saturday's events at Auto Tire and Parts Racepark were called off because of heavy rain through the week. It was the second event rained out at the track.
ATPR will host the National Championship Racing Association sprint series Saturday.
-- From staff, wire reports