Gordon Narrows Points Gap, Lands Another Top Five
- Jun 17, 2002
- 24 Team
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (June 17, 2002)—Jeff Gordon was the first Hendrick Motorsports driver to take the checkered flag at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, finishing fifth in the Sirius Satellite Radio 400 and closing the gap between himself and NASCAR Winston Cup Series points leader Sterling Marlin.
Gordon started 24th and rallied from a one-lap deficit for his 200th career top-10 finish and his fifth top five of 2002. The defending Winston Cup champion is now tied with teammate Jimmie Johnson for second in the overall standings, just 110 points behind Marlin.
“I`m real happy,” said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. “I felt like we had a fifth or sixth-place car and for us to lose a lap was pretty disappointing. We just needed to keep freeing the car up.
“The caution fell and got us a lap down. But then we got up there in the clean air, and man I`ll tell you that thing was flying. Then we got our lap back and went to the back of the pack and then I was just junk. And again, that dirty air back there—the cars just do not drive the same when you get behind a bunch of cars.
“Luckily, we were able to get four tires there at the end or we would have never finished where we did.”
Team Lowe’s Racing and driver Johnson finished 14th after leading many of the race’s final laps until having their momentum broken by a late-race caution. The rookie started the event in 14th and ran in the top 10 throughout most of the afternoon in the No. 48 Lowe’s Monte Carlo.
Johnson picked up points on first-place Marlin in the championship chase, but fell into a second-place tie with Gordon.
Driving the No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevy, Joe Nemechek spent much of the afternoon fighting a tight-handling race car. The team started the event in 29th and remains 38th in the standings after a 29th-place finish.
Terry Labonte endured a frustrating afternoon in the No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet after a fuel mileage miscalculation put the team two laps down. The two-time Winston Cup champion started 38th and advanced briefly into the top 20 before losing track position.
Team Kellogg’s finished the race in 31st, slipping from 17th to 19th in the overall driver standings.
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series next visits the road coarse of Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. The race, scheduled for a 3 p.m. EDT green flag, will be broadcast live on the FOX television network and Performance Racing Network radio affiliates.