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Gordon ‘On a Mission’ at Bristol

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 20, 2003) – After a disappointing 33rd-place finish at Darlington, S.C., Jeff Gordon feels like he “owes” the No. 24 DuPont team a good finish in this Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

Gordon was leading with 23 laps remaining in last Sunday’s race at Darlington Raceway when he tagged the wall and knocked the “toe out” on the right-front of his Chevrolet. He finished seven laps down after sustaining suspension damage when a cut tire sent him into the wall a second time.

“The pit crew did an excellent job of giving me the lead for the last restart, but the car was just too tight,” Gordon said. “I had to hit every line perfect to stay out front. I didn’t and I hit the wall.

“My mistake, and I’m going to make up for it this weekend at Bristol.”

In 20 career starts at Bristol, Gordon has five wins including four straight Food City 500 victories from 1995 through 1998, 10 top-fives, 13 top-10s and has led 1,917 laps at the high-banked short-track. He swept both pole positions in 2002 and ended a 31-race winless streak with a perfectly executed “bump-and-run” on Rusty Wallace to capture the Sharpie 500 last August.

“The short tracks have been really good to me over the years and Bristol certainly tops the list,” Gordon said. “It’s such an impressive place for the teams, the drivers, the fans, the sponsors and everybody involved. It seems like it always comes down to an exciting finish and last year’s win at the night race was one of the most exciting wins I’ve had in a long time.

“All of us love racing here even though it’s like a game of Russian roulette. You can get caught up in a wreck pretty easily.”

Robbie Loomis, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet, knows first-hand that when Gordon is on a mission, watch out.

“Jeff and I were talking before the Bristol race in August,” Loomis said. “He scared me to death because he said the last time we were here (March 2002) we sat on the pole and led a lot of laps. If we didn’t crush them during the night race, we were in trouble.

“I knew the driver was going to get it done, so I was the one that would be in trouble if we didn’t win.

“It sounds like he is on a mission again and we plan to give him a car to accomplish it.”

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