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Gordon Second, Johnson Fourth at Chicagoland

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (July 15, 2002)—Jeff Gordon nearly ended his 26-race winless streak at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday, coming in a close second to winner Kevin Harvick in the Tropicana 400.

Driving the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, Gordon had one of the quickest cars on the Joliet, Ill., track after starting in the 15th position.

“We had a good car all day,” said the four-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion. “If we could just get in clean air, man, we could fly.

“It was just real hard to get track position and (crew chief) Robbie (Loomis) and those guys in the pits just did an awesome job.”

Gordon advanced one position in the Winston Cup standings to fourth, closing the gap on leader Sterling Marlin to just 95 points. He’s six points behind third-place Jimmie Johnson and 46 behind second-place Mark Martin.

Johnson scored his 12th top-10 finish of 2002 with a solid fourth-place performance in the No. 48 Lowe’s Monte Carlo after starting back in 37th.

“It’s incredible,” he said. “These guys at Hendrick Motorsports on this Lowe’s No. 48 car have been giving me great cars, and to come out here, we don’t really have backup cars, but we had to unload one we didn’t intend on racing, come back to finish fourth.

“We passed more cars than anyone all day long. Fastest in a lot of segments, but we just didn’t have the track position. We’re not upset at all. To come back and finish fourth through this, it’s an incredible day for the Lowe’s Monte Carlo.”

The rookie remains third in the Winston Cup points race, just 89 out of first.

Terry Labonte piloted the No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevy to yet another top-15 finish, earning 13th at Chicagoland Speedway. It was the two-time champion’s eighth top-15 and his third in the last three races.

The veteran is 17th in the overall standings, just 93 markers behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip, who are tied for 14th with 2,020 points each.

Joe Nemechek endured another rough outing in the No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet, starting in 10th and finishing a disappointing 33rd after fuel and tire problems.

“First we ran out of gas, which cost us two laps,” said No. 25 crew chief Brian Pattie. “Got back where we were one lap down. And then just had two flat tires and the last one finally put us in the fence.”

Nemechek is currently 38th in points, 170 out of 35th place.

The NASCAR Winston Cup Series will visit New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N.H., this Sunday for the New England 300. The race will be televised live on TNT and broadcast on MRN Radio beginning at 1:30 p.m. EDT.

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