Johnson Again Suffers Late
April 28, 2003 | 12:54 A.M. EST
“It's just frustrating to have this (an accident) happen for the third time this season,” said Johnson while looking over this damaged Lowe's Monte Carlo. “The guys worked hard all weekend on this race car and preformed great stops all afternoon. We're looking forward to next weekend's race in Richmond so we can knock this thing off our backs.”
Johnson started the event in the 20th position and battled his race car all afternoon. Thanks to excellent driving by Johnson and fantastic pit stops, Team Lowe's fought its way into the top 10 and eventually into the top 5. On the final restart of the afternoon on lap 237, Johnson was in fourth position and looking to advance. Johnson had a solid restart and was contending for a top three position when the race car started to tighten up, allowing the rest of the field to gain ground on the Lowe's Chevy.
On lap 248, Johnson battled with a slew of drivers for position when he made contact with a couple of drivers and the wall coming back to the start/finish line. The result of the contact left the Lowe's Chevy looking like an accordion, and Johnson was forced to limp over the start/finish line the last two laps of the race.
While the end result might not have shown it, this weekend's race at California proved to many associated with Team Lowe's that this team will contend for the championship this season.
“It's a frustrating finish today, but this team continues to prove a lot to themselves each weekend,” explained crew chief Chad Knaus. “This team could have folded up this weekend and settled for a bad race. We didn't unload all that strong on Friday and, actually, all of the things that we worked so hard on last week at the shop we were forced to change at the track because they didn't work. The guys just buckled down and dedicated themselves to making sure that we had a strong race car for today's race. Jimmie did an unbelievable job this afternoon, and it was just a late race incident that cost us a top-10 finish. We'll pull things together for next weekend's event at Richmond and look forward to Lowe's Motor Speedway after our break.”
Johnsons went on to finish 16th on Sunday and fell to fifth overall in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings, 207 points out of first place.