DOVER, Del. - In the span of 11 days, Jimmie Johnson won two races and $1,289,504. His crew chief was fined twice for breaking rules. His sponsor, Lowe's, extended its agreement with the Hendrick Motorsports race team through the 2007 season.
Johnson won both The Winston all-star race and the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 - both at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte - but both wins were somewhat tainted by violations.
Chad Knaus, his crew chief, was fined $1,000 after the all-star race for an unapproved air directional device. A week later, he was docked $2,500 before the Coca-Cola 600 for the unapproved use of refrigerant near the fuel system.
Given what happened at Charlotte, a liberal interpretation of the rulebook was worth every penny.
Now Johnson heads into Sunday's MBNA Armed Forces Family 400 at Dover International Speedway on a roll. He and Knaus have a new contract, and they will be competing at a raceway where they won both races a year ago.
"Every team looks at the calendar and hopes that the tracks they run well at previously will be the same ones that they can be contenders on again," Johnson said. "We knew that the Lowe's Motor Speedway was one of those tracks that we knew we would hopefully get some good points. With the success we've had at Dover, we have that same mindset."
Johnson's surge has helped him erase the memory of crashing on the final lap of races at Las Vegas; California; and Talladega, Ala. He's now fifth in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series points standings, 31 points away from one of his bosses, third-place Jeff Gordon. Rick Hendrick and Gordon are co-owners of Johnson's team.
"One thing we're trying not to do is get too caught up in the pressures of repeating the wins and all that," Johnson said. "Every week we've been competing in the top five and hopefully at Dover, we'll still have the magic there and be able to pull into Victory Lane again."
NADEAU ON THE MEND: Jerry Nadeau was transferred to a rehabilitation center in Charlotte, N.C., as he continues to recover from critical injuries suffered May 2 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
Nadeau, who suffered head, shoulder, ribs and lung injuries after his Pontiac slammed into the wall on the driver's-side door, now is able to talk to his family.
"He is doing great, and we know that we are going to another excellent facility at the Charlotte Institute of Rehabilitation," said his wife, Jada. "I join Jerry and all of the Nadeau family in extending a sincere thank you to the fans and everyone in the racing community for the heartwarming support that we have received."
Doctors at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center Hospitals in Richmond said Nadeau's rehabilitation would consist of physical, recreational, occupational and speech therapy.
OUTLAWS TROUBLE: The World of Outlaws mightneed an infusion of new money to rescue it from trouble.
The racing organization had at least three trailers, a souvenir rig and a truck seized by Cabarrus County, N.C., deputies as part of a court order. Wheeler Television, which produced taped highlights of last year's races for the Speed Channel, had the equipment seized as it tries to recover payment.
A judge will determine whether the property seized will be enough to pay off Wheeler Television if it wins its lawsuit against the racing group. Until it's resolved, the court will hold onto the equipment.
The troubles have prompted at least two parties - defending NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman O. Bruton Smith - to look into buying the World of Outlaws. The reported price would be about $5 million.
PIT STOPS: Although having seven of the 10 finalists in the American Idol competition sing the National Anthem before the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday was a good move, somebody probably should have told three of them it's customary to remove baseball caps, including the ones worn sideways, while they sing it. ... Bill Davis Racing has dropped its plan to race Busch Series driver Scott Wimmer at Sunday's Winston Cup Series race at Dover. The team still plans to make selected appearances later in the year. ... Budweiser extended its deal with Dale Earnhardt Jr. His team will receive $18 million in sponsorship in 2004, $20 million in 2005 and $22 million in 2006.
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