DOVER, Del. (Sept. 22, 2003) – Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson earned top-10 results on Sunday at Dover International Speedway, leading Hendrick Motorsports in the MBNA America 400 with fifth and eighth-place finishes respectively.
Driving the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, Gordon brought home his ninth top-five finish of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season and held steady in the driver standings at sixth overall.
“This feels good,” Gordon said. “I knew if we just kept working at it that we’d have a good strong day. I’m glad it came here in DuPont’s backyard, down the road from Wilmington (DuPont’s headquarters).”
Gordon started the race in sixth after NASCAR lined up the grid according to owner points due to the threat of Hurricane Isabel. On the season, the four-time Winston Cup champion has one victory, nine top-fives and 13 top-10 finishes in 28 races.
Johnson’ performance marked the 13th top-10 of the season for Team Lowe’s Racing and moved him from fourth to third in Winston Cup championship points, just 37 markers behind second-place Kevin Harvick.
In the No. 48 Chevy, Johnson has three victories this season, including last weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway, along with eight top-fives.
Two-time Winston Cup champion Terry Labonte finished 20th at Dover in the No. 5 Kellogg’s / got milk? Monte Carlo after fighting an ill-handling race car on Sunday.
Labonte remains ninth in the standings, just 78 points behind eighth-place Kurt Busch.
Joe Nemechek finished 43rd overall, but avoided injury when his No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet made contact with the Turn 1 retaining wall after blowing a right-front tire going into the corner early in the race.
“I’m good,” Nemechek said. “I’m not sure what happened there. We lost a right-front tire going into the corner. I don’t know if I ran over something or what. We’d been just a little bit tight and I’d been taking it real easy on that right front. It just let go going into the corner.
“It’s one of those deals where when it let go, there was nothing I could do. I just tightened my HANS up and it was the best I’d ever felt after I hit something.”
Due to extensive body damage, the UAW-Delphi team was unable to return the No. 25 Monte Carlo to the race track.
Ryan Newman won at Dover to earn his seventh victory of the 2003 season.
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series will next visit the 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Sunday, Sept. 28. NBC and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of the event beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.