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Gordon Leads HMS at Indy

INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 4, 2003) – Jeff Gordon earned his eighth top-five finish of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season on Sunday, coming home fourth at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In his 10th Brickyard 400, the result was Gordon’s eighth top-10 and sixth top-five at the historic 2.5-mile track. The four-time Winston Cup champion has three career victories at Indy, the most of any driver.

“I told the team before the race started that we were going to fight until the checkered flag fell,” said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. “We were digging all day long. I’m so proud of them.

“It was a great birthday for me (32nd). I know we didn’t get many points, but that’s championship form as far as I’m concerned for this race team. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Gordon remains third in the Winston Cup championship standings. He is currently 318 points behind leader Matt Kenseth and 32 back of second-place Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Driving the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevy, Jimmie Johnson finished 18th on Sunday, thanks in part to an accident at Lap 145 when the No. 97 of driver Kurt Busch made contact with Terry Labonte’s No. 5 Chevy, setting off a chain reaction.

“We had a good car and I wish we could have done better,” said Johnson, who started ninth. “A couple of things happened there at the end that just put us out of contention. We couldn’t make it up.”

Johnson is fourth in the standings, just one position behind Gordon.

In the No. 5 Kellogg’s / got milk? Chevrolet, Labonte finished 19th because of the accident, but managed to stay on the lead lap thanks to some quick work from his pit crew. The two-time Winston Cup champion was running in the top 10 before sliding sideways and getting partially airborne after his brush with the No. 97.

“It was kind of one of those chain-reaction deals,” Labonte said. “(Busch) got into the back of me and just turned me around. We were actually going to have a pretty good finish. It was just too bad.”

Labonte, who started 38th, slid one position in the driver standings to 14th overall, but remains just 75 points out of the top 10.

Joe Nemechek was also involved in the Lap 145 melee, which involved at least seven other teams. After starting seventh, the Lakeland, Fla., native ended up 37th because of serious damage to his No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevy.

As a result, Nemechek lost three positions in the standings, moving to 25th overall after 21 of 36 races.

Kevin Harvick won the Brickyard 400 for his first victory of 2003.

The NASCAR Winston Cup Series will next visit the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen International on Sunday, Aug. 10. Broadcast live on TNT and MRN Radio beginning at 1 p.m. ET, the event marks the second of two road course races on the schedule this season.

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