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Hendrick Puts Five in LMS Field

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 10, 2003) – Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson each qualified in the top three on Thursday during UAW-GM Quality 500 time trials at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, while 19-year-old Brian Vickers earned a spot in his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series event.

Gordon, a four-time Winston Cup champion, will start on the outside pole in Saturday night’s race, posting a lap of 186.675 mph in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet.

“I’m pumped because we went from about 11th place on the board after practice to second in qualifying,” Gordon said. “I wasn’t really expecting to get the pole today. I just got my hopes up when I ran that lap.

“We’ve got a car that’s basically brand new. We’re going to go out there tomorrow night and just really work hard on getting the balance.”

Driving the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, Johnson will start in the third position, marking his fourth top-three start in the past two years at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, including a pair of poles and two third-place starts.

Saturday’s event will mark the first night running of the fall event at LMS.

“Night racing, I think, brings the best out in everyone,” Johnson said. “It’s neat to see the sparks, the race track all lit up and everything that goes along with it. I think night racing is a great thing to have happen.

“Also, we’re close to home, and that means we get Sunday at home, and we get to watch football on Sunday for once. That’s going to be nice to hang out and hope my fantasy football team does better.”

Brian Vickers opened some eyes on Thursday, earning the 20th starting position in his first-ever Winston Cup qualifying attempt. The Thomasville native turned a lap of 183.374 mph in the No. 60 Chevy.

“We want to run every lap on Saturday,” Vickers said. “That’s been our goal in both Busch and Cup. We want to stay out of trouble and stay on the lead lap. Everything else will take care of itself.”

Two-time Winston Cup champion Terry Labonte will start 21st in the No. 5 Kellogg’s / got milk? Monte Carlo, one position behind Vickers. In 50 races at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Labonte has 18 top-10 finishes, including one victory.

In the No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevy, Joe Nemechek will start 40th after a lap of 179.892 mph. Saturday’s race will mark his 19th career start at the Concord-based track.

Ryan Newman earned his eighth Winston Cup pole position of 2003 with a track-record lap of 186.675 mph on Thursday.

Saturday’s event will be broadcast live on NBC and PRN Radio beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

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