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Johnson Nabs Another Top 10

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 16, 2002)—Jimmie Johnson earned his 16th top-10 finish of the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season on Sunday at New Hampshire International Speedway, bringing his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet to the checkered flag ninth in the rain-shortened New Hampshire 300.

The El Cajon, Calif., native is currently tied with series leader Mark Martin and fellow rookie Ryan Newman for the most top-10s this season.

“I wish we could run another 100 laps,” said Johnson after the race was stopped at Lap 207 due to inclement weather. “The car was really good. We were a little tight off there at the beginning. We made some great calls based on our run here last time, and the adjustments we needed, and way we needed to start the race, we were much closer.”

Johnson remains third in the Winston Cup driver standings, just 40 points behind Martin and 34 back of second-place Sterling Marlin.

Defending Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon finished 14th at New Hampshire after starting 21st in the No. 24 DuPont Chevy. He is currently 67 points out of first, with two victories, eight top-fives and 14 top-10s in 2002.

Driving the No. 5 Kellogg’s Monte Carlo, Terry Labonte started 31st and fought handling problems to finish 30th on the 1.058-mile oval. The two-time Winston Cup champion slipped to 22nd in the overall driver standings, less than 50 points behind 20th-place Robby Gordon.

Joe Nemechek finished 32nd at the Loudon, N.H., venue, but managed to pick up one spot in the driver standings after starting 34th in the No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevy. He’s currently 36th overall in just 24 starts this year.

Newman took the checkered flag for his first career Winston Cup victory after starting from the pole position.

The teams of Hendrick Motorsports will next visit the 1-mile oval of Dover (Del.) International Speedway for the MBNA All-American Heroes 400, scheduled for a 1 p.m. (ET) start time. The event will be carried live on TNT and MRN radio.

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