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Gordon Seeking First Chicagoland Victory

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (July 10, 2002)—Jeff Gordon has had luck on his side recently.

Bad luck.

The defending NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion desperately wants some good fortune to come his way this Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., for the Tropicana 400.

Gordon completed the fifth race of the 2002 season trailing points leader Sterling Marlin by 161 points. Since that event at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, he wrecked at Bristol, Tenn., and lost the power steering to his DuPont Chevrolet at Martinsville, Va.

The four-time champion also went a lap down in the 10th race of 2002 at California Speedway thanks to debris on the car`s grill overheating the engine. He then broke a rear-end gear at Infineon Raceway while leading and lost a lap at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway due to a cut tire.

During that five-race span, he has still trimmed Marlin`s lead by 11 points.

“I`ve always believed you make your own luck,” Gordon said. “Good preparation, good decision-making and hard work allows you to be in a position where you don`t depend on luck.

“Things just haven`t gone our way recently. We`ve had some good runs and some good cars, we just haven`t had everything come together to get to victory lane.

“But I`m not concerned. There is still plenty of racing left and I know what this team is capable of.”

Last year in the inaugural Winston Cup event at Chicagoland, Gordon started 28th and was running in the top five before dropping a cylinder with only a handful of laps remaining. A win this weekend would snap his 25-race winless streak, the longest of his career, and give him a victory at a record 20th track, the most of any active driver.

Gordon has taken the checkered flag at 19 of the 23 tracks currently on the schedule, with Chicagoland, Homestead-Miami, Phoenix and Texas the only four venues where he has yet to visit victory lane in a Winston Cup car. Mark Martin is second with wins at 16 different tracks.

“We didn`t qualify well here last year, but we were good during the race before we lost a cylinder at the end,” Gordon said. “I don`t think we had the car to beat (eventual winner Kevin) Harvick, but we were in position for a strong top five.

“That`s all we are concerned about this year. We want to have a good, consistent top-five run and gain some points.

“If things go our way, we could be in a position to win—and winning sure does pay a lot of points.”

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