CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Oct. 28, 2002)—Joe Nemechek earned his best finish of the season on Sunday as Jeff Gordon posted his 17th top-10 finish of 2002 in the rain-shortened NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Behind the wheel of the No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet, Nemechek led 57 laps after starting 36th and finished second at the Hampton, Ga., race track, his top performance of the season and best finish since winning at North Carolina Speedway last fall.
“My UAW-Delphi Chevy was just awesome,” Nemechek said. “We had great pit stops and great power—everything was right on the money. Peter (Sospenzo, crew chief) made some great calls on pit road and the guys just worked their guts out all day.
“This team has really come together and I think it’s exciting to everyone involved.”
Nemechek moved up one position in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver standings, from 36th to 35th overall, 32 points behind 34th-place Steve Park and 134 back of Casey Atwood in 33rd.
Four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon finished sixth on the 1.54-mile oval after starting seventh in the No. 24 DuPont Chevy. Gordon, who led 41 laps, dropped from sixth to seventh in the standings despite earning 155 championship points.
After starting from the outside pole, Jimmie Johnson finished 22nd in the No. 48 Lowe’s Monte Carlo, followed by 25th-place Terry Labonte in the No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevy.
Johnson dropped one place to third in driver points, just 150 behind leader Tony Stewart, while Labonte, a two-time Winston Cup champion, remained 23rd overall.
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series will next visit the 1.017-mile oval of North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C. Scheduled for a 1 p.m. ET start, the Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 will be broadcast live on both TNT and MRN Radio.