Rookies Head Back To Dover

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This weekend the rookies of the Winston Cup Series head back to Dover International Speedway for the MBNA America 400. In the last nine Winston Cup races at Dover, the average finish of the top Raybestos Rookie is 5.44. Since 1999, the highest finishing rookie at Dover has collected a total of five top-fives (including two wins by Jimmie Johnson in 2002) and seven top-10 finishes in nine races.

Last weekend, Jamie McMurray was the top rookie in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. McMurray placed 10th, his eighth top-10 finish of the 2003 season. He took top Raybestos Rookie honor for the 13th time this season and has been the highest finishing rookie in six of the last seven races. McMurray adds to his lead in the Raybestos Rookie standings for the third consecutive race. Entering this weekend's event at Dover, McMurray holds a 16-point advantage (249-233) over Greg Biffle.

So far this season at least one Raybestos Rookie has led a lap in 12 races this season, including two of the past three, entering the Dover race. Biffle has led more miles than any other Rookie entering the MBNA America 400: eight times in six races for 245.97 miles (136 laps).

McMurray was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race at the MBNA Armed Forces Family 400 at Dover in June. McMurray finished 13th, the final car to complete 400-lap distance. No rookie led a lap in the race.

One year ago, Raybestos Rookie Jimmie Johnson won the MBNA All American Heroes 400 at Dover. Johnson was the second rookie to win in as many weeks on the Winston Cup tour (Ryan Newman won the previous week at New Hampshire). Johnson led the most laps in the race (four times for 170). Even more impressive is the fact that Johnson didn't lead the race until lap 204 of the 400-lap event. Johnson also won the spring race at Dover and became the first Raybestos Rookie in Winston Cup history to sweep both races at a single venue.

Qualifying for the MBNA America 400 is scheduled to start at 2:35 p.m. Friday, with television coverage on TNT.

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