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Hendrick Motorsports Ready for Stretch Run

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (June 28, 2002)—After 16 races, the NASCAR Winston Cup Series goes into its final off-weekend of 2002 as the four teams of Hendrick Motorsports gear up for the season-ending stretch of 20 consecutive events.

Just 82 points behind leader Sterling Marlin, defending Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon leads the charge, hoping to add a fifth title to his résumé.

Though winless this season, Gordon has been one of the most consistent performers throughout 2002, racking up 10 top-10 finishes, five top fives and no DNFs in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet.

Gordon is currently third in the Winston Cup driver standings going into race No. 17 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, where he’s won four times.

Rookie Jimmie Johnson has been impressive in his first full season behind the wheel of the No. 48 Lowe’s Monte Carlo, racking up 10 top-10 finishes and four top fives, including victories at California Speedway and Dover (Del.) International Speedway.

The 26-year-old is four points behind No. 48 team owner Gordon in the standings and ranks first in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year race, 23 markers ahead of second-place Ryan Newman.

Terry Labonte has endured an up-and-down season in 2002, with three top-10s, one top-five and multiple DNFs, though the team has shown promise with 10 top-20 finishes, including a sixth-place showing at Martinsville, Va., and a season-best third at Sonoma, Calif., in the No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevy.

“Texas Terry” jumped two spots in the driver standings to 17th overall after his third-place performance at Sonoma, just 44 points behind 16th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Joe Nemechek joined Hendrick Motorsports in May, making his debut in the No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., with a solid 12th-place performance in The Winston, a non-points event.

Crew chief Brian Pattie joined the team in June, leading the former NASCAR Busch Series champion to 18th place at Sonoma, his best points finish of the season in the No. 25.

Nemechek is currently 38th in the Winston Cup standings after starting just 13 of 16 races in 2002.

The NASCAR Winston Cup Series will resume with the Pepsi 400 on Saturday, July 6 at Daytona International Speedway. The race, scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. EDT green flag, will be broadcast live on MRN Radio affiliates and the FOX television network.

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