By JOANNE KORTH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 24, 2002
CONCORD, N.C. -- Rookie Jimmie Johnson's fairy-tale season continues.
Johnson set a Winston Cup qualifying record with a lap of 28.96 seconds, 186.464 mph, to win the pole for Sunday's Coca-Cola Racing Family 600 at 1.5-mile Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Johnson, who won his third pole in 15 career races, topped Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s record of 29.027 seconds set on May 24, 2000. Ryan Newman holds the track stock car record, 28.911 seconds in an ARCA car on Oct. 2, 2000.
"I guess it's reality, the stuff keeps happening to us," said Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet co-owned by Rick Hendrick and four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon. "It's been neat to run this strong week in and week out."
Johnson also won the pole for both restrictor plate races this season, the season-opening Daytona 500 and the Aaron's 499 at Talladega. His first career victory came April 28 at California Speedway, and he won the first two segments of the Winston all-star race Saturday at LMS.
The Fords of Elliott Sadler, Ricky Craven and Newman took the next three spots, with Bill Elliott's Dodge fifth. Among those who needed provisionals to make the field were series regulars Ward Burton, Dale Jarrett, Jeff Green, Steve Grissom and Brett Bodine. BUSCH FINED: Kurt Busch was fined $10,000 for "actions detrimental to stock car racing," NASCAR announced Thursday. Busch made comments after the Winston Saturday indicating he intentionally wrecked Robby Gordon to bring out a late caution.
Eventual winner Newman was pulling away from the field at the time of the accident, which forced a restart with five laps left.
"I never go out to intentionally take anybody out," Busch said Thursday. "An accident happened in Turn 2 of Lowe's Motor Speedway on the Winston night, and I felt as if I chose the wrong words to talk about it afterward. Now, we're going to have to take the penalties, whether it's from NASCAR or the media."
FAMILY MEMENTO: Proceeds from a book chronicling four generations of racing Pettys, The Petty Family Album, will go to the Victory Junction Gang Camp in honor of Adam Petty, the fourth-generation driver killed May 12, 2000, at New Hampshire International Speedway. The book, which sells for $35, was in stores Thursday.
"In all honesty, I saw a lot of the rough drafts of the book and a lot of photos and copy, but I really haven't brought myself to thumb through the book yet," said Kyle Petty, Adam's father. "It's still hard for me to look at some of the pictures of Adam and myself. But this is a special thing for our family."
The camp, being built in North Carolina, will offer programs year-round to children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses and their families. The project has a goal of $24-million.
In a related announcement, Ken Schrader said he will host at the dirt track he owns in Missouri a celebrity match race on July 31 to raise money for the camp.