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Labonte Paces Hendrick at Michigan

 

  • Aug 18, 2003

BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 18, 2003) – Terry Labonte inched closer to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series top 10 after finishing 13th at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, leading all four Hendrick Motorsports teams.

The two-time Winston Cup champion, who started fifth after a stellar qualifying effort on Friday, fought a tight-handling chassis throughout much of the 400-mile event.

“We never got the car freed up all day long,” said Labonte, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg’s / got milk? Chevrolet. “It was just tight, tight, tight. We never could get it loosened up.”

Labonte picked up 124 championship points at Michigan and moved to 13th in the driver standings, an improvement of one position. The Corpus Christi, Texas, native is currently 152 markers behind 10th-place Robby Gordon.

Driving the No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevy, Joe Nemechek finished 20th at the two-mile Brooklyn-based oval after starting in the 25th position. The veteran has one victory, one outside pole position and four top-10 finishes in 2003.

Nemechek remains 24th in the rankings after 23 of 36 events this season.

Team Lowe’s Racing led the most laps at Michigan on Sunday, but ended up with a disappointing 27th-place finish after qualifying 15th. The result moved driver Jimmie Johnson from fourth to sixth in championship points, just 15 markers behind fifth-place Michael Waltrip.

Johnson has been ranked in the top 10 in driver points following every race this season, one of only two drivers to do so.

In the No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo, Jeff Gordon endured a frustrating day at Michigan, going a lap down early after visiting pit road before an untimely caution period. The four-time Winston Cup champion finished 30th after starting 21st and slid one spot in driver points to fourth overall.

Ryan Newman won on Sunday for the fifth time this season.

The NASCAR Winston Cup Series will next race under the lights at the famed .533-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 23. Carried live on TNT and PRN Radio, coverage of the 500-lap event will begin at 7 p.m. ET.

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