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Gordon Finishes Fifth at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. (Sept. 30, 2003) – Jeff Gordon led a race-high 47 laps and registered his third consecutive top-five result on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, leading Hendrick Motorsports in the EA Sports 500 with a fifth-place finish.

Driving the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, Gordon brought home his second consecutive fifth-place showing, marking the first time the four-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion has finished in the top five in consecutive races since June.

“I hope we’re on a roll,” said Gordon, who has 14 top-10 finishes on the season. “That was an awesome run for us. We had a strong car all day, led a bunch of laps.”

Gordon remains in sixth place in the championship standings, 520 points behind leader Matt Kenseth.

Terry Labonte maintained a position in NASCAR’s Top 10 despite finishing 22nd in Sunday’s race.

The opening laps of the 188-lap event saw Labonte’s No. 5 Kellogg’s / got milk? Chevrolet quickly advance to ninth place, but close-quarter racing took its toll at mid-race when his left-rear fender was damaged and began rubbing the tire. Repairs to the fender were made on pit road, but Labonte never was able to regain the track position.

As a result of Sunday’s finish, Labonte slid one spot to 10th in the standings.

Joe Nemechek didn’t get the 40th birthday present he had hoped for this weekend at the 2.66-mile track, driving the No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet to a 25th-place finish after getting caught up in an early race incident on Lap 9.

Nemechek was able to move up one position in the standings to 25th, just 78 points behind Jeremy Mayfield in 24th.

Team Lowe’s Racing driver Jimmie Johnson appeared to have a car capable of challenging for the win until things slowly began to unravel for the No. 48 team when, on Lap 142, contact from Michael Waltrip’s car sent Johnson spinning.

“I got hit from the right side by the No. 15 (Waltrip) and it turned us around,” Johnson said. “I guess the No. 8 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) got into the back of the No. 15, and the chain reaction turned us around.

“Luckily, we didn’t hit anything.”

Johnson remained on the lead lap despite several pit stops to repair damage to the nose of his Chevrolet. Determined to salvage a strong finish, he moved into the top five again before his engine gave out.

The El Cajon, Calif., native finished 34th and fell one spot in the standings to fourth overall, 476 points behind Kenseth.

Next up for the Winston Cup Series will be the Banquet Foods 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 5. Live coverage of the event will begin at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and MRN Radio.

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