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Hendrick Puts Two in Texas Top 10

 

FORT WORTH, Texas (March 31, 2003) – Jeff Gordon continued his march to the top of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings and Jimmie Johnson recorded his fourth top-10 finish of 2003 as Hendrick Motorsports visited at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday for the Samsung/Radio Shack 500.

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, earned a third-place finish at Texas, moving up four positions in the Winston Cup driver standings to sixth overall, just 21 points behind Johnson in fifth.

“We are doing everything that we can,” Gordon said. “I mean, the cars are awesome, the pit crew has been phenomenal. You know, I`ve made a couple of mistakes that I want to make up to the guys on, and today we were flawless. Absolutely flawless.”

In the past two events, Gordon has moved up nine positions in the driver standings, posting a pair of top-10 finishes.

Driving the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevy, Johnson also brought home his second consecutive top-10 and advanced one spot in championship points after qualifying in the fourth position and earning an eighth-place finish at Texas.

“We had a great qualifying effort,” said Team Lowe’s Racing crew chief Chad Knaus. “The car was great right out of the box.”

After suffering engine problems in practice on Saturday, Johnson was forced to the rear of the field, but worked his way through traffic to quickly join the top 10.

“I think we were running seventh by Lap 45,” Knaus said. “It was just awesome. It was a great team effort.”

Johnson is currently 205 points behind Winston Cup leader Matt Kenseth.

Two-time Winston Cup champion Terry Labonte finished 16th at his “home track” after starting from the outside of Row 6 on Sunday.

“We`ll keep at it,” said Labonte, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas. “We`ve got good cars and the guys are doing a great job on pit road, so we`ll keep working at it.”

Labonte, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg’s / got milk? Monte Carlo, has five top-10 finishes, including one victory, in seven career events at Texas Motor Speedway. He is currently 31st in Winston Cup points.

Driving the No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet, Joe Nemechek finished 35th on Sunday after a strong qualifying effort put him on the inside of Row 5 to start the event.

Nemechek, who won the NASCAR Busch Series race on Saturday, experienced handling problems before hitting the Texas Motor Speedway retaining wall on Lap 279 of the 334-lap event. He was taken to the infield care center and quickly released with no injuries.

“I’m doing just fine,” Nemechek said. “I just hate it for this team and the folks at UAW-Delphi. I think we had a tire go down and it put me in the wall. We’ll come back strong next week.”

The Lakeland, Fla., native is currently 17th in championship points, just 61 markers out of the top 10.

The NASCAR Winston Cup Series will next visit the 2.66-mile tri-oval of Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for the Aaron’s 499 on Sunday, April 6. The 188-lap event will be broadcast live on MRN Radio and the FOX television network beginning at 12 p.m. EST.

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