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Gordon Gunning for Another Atlanta Highlight

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 5, 2003) – With only three of 36 races completed, Jeff Gordon knows it is not time to hit the panic button.

Gordon, a four-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion, finds himself 20th in the standings, 159 points behind leader Michael Waltrip heading into this Sunday`s Bass Pro Shops/MBNA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He believes a fifth championship this season is still a possibility.

“We haven’t finished as well as I had hoped, but we’ve been running strong and working well as a team,” said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. “I’d be worried if we weren’t running well.

“We had a good car that led a lot of laps at Las Vegas, but a problem in the pits cost us valuable track position. Robbie Loomis made a great call for two tires that regained that needed track position. Unfortunately, I got caught up in a wreck between two lapped cars and finished 37th.

“As I told the crew, it just wasn’t our day and we’ll get them next week.”

Gordon may not be concerned because he has been in this situation before during a championship year. In 1997, he trailed by 184 points six races into the season.

“With 33 races to go, there are still a lot of points that can be won or lost,” Gordon said. “We can’t focus on what teams are ahead of us, how they are running and what they do during the race. Our focus needs to be on what we, as a team, can do. Everything else will take care of itself.

“I know we are capable of putting a string of wins and top 10s together that will get us back into the chase.”

Gordon’s record at Atlanta includes three wins, eight top-fives and 12 top-10s in 21 starts. He’d like to add career win number 62 to a list of memorable moments at the 1.54-mile track.

“So many great moments come to mind when I think of this track,” Gordon said. “My first Winston Cup race was here in 1992, although I’d like to forget our 31st-place finish.

“We’ve clinched championships, won races and had some dramatic finishes here. Some, like when I finished second in a photo finish to Kevin Harvick in 2001, were on the losing end.

“This Sunday, I’m hoping we’re on the winning side—and I don’t care if it’s by three feet or three seconds.”


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