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Gordon Seeking Fourth Martinsville Win

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Oct. 16, 2002)—During the NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in April, Jeff Gordon demonstrated that race car drivers are, in fact, athletes.

Halfway through the race, Gordon was running second when he was caught up in an accident that caused the power steering in his DuPont Chevrolet to go out. With the tight corners and hard breaking at the .526-mile oval, it would make completing the event a real challenge for any driver. Despite the setback, Gordon elected to continue the race.

“That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in a race car,” said Gordon. “It was like running five or 10 miles. The first one or two are a killer and then you get numb and do what you can to get to the end. But I didn’t want to get out because we had such an awesome car.

“It’s one thing to lose power steering at any track, it’s a totally different monster at a short track like Martinsville where you’ve got cars leaning on you almost every lap.

“I had to double-grip the steering wheel,” he continued. “I had to take two handfuls. I’d just get into a rhythm and get tugging on the wheel and grab another handful and go.”

Gordon finished 23rd and it was only the second time he has finished outside the top 12 in 19 career Winston Cup races at Martinsville. Overall, he has three wins, two poles, 10 top-fives and 14 top-10 finishes.

“What’s helped me at a place like this or Bristol, is that it’s just the type of racing I grew up doing—a lot of short track and sprint car racing. Racing on so many different types of tracks as a kid has helped me learn and adapt to tracks like Martinsville.”

Gordon finished fourth at Lowe’s Motor Speedway last Sunday and moved from seventh to sixth in the Winston Cup point standings, 211 behind leader Tony Stewart. After 31 races in 2002, he has three wins, three poles, 10 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes.

“Tony is going to be hard to catch, especially with the way he performs at the tracks left on the schedule,” said Gordon. “But we’re only 211 points out and with the way this season has gone, I think that anything is possible.

“We’re going to pull out all the stops and give these last five races everything we’ve got. I think this team has shown that we don’t give up easily.”

Judging by Gordon’s performance in the last race at Martinsville, neither does he.

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