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Labonte Leads Most Laps, Gordon Fifth in Shootout

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 7, 2004) – Hendrick Motorsports helped kick off NASCAR’s portion of Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday evening with the annual running of the Budweiser Shootout, a non-points special event for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series pole position winners from the previous season.

Determined by a random draw, the 19-car Budweiser Shootout starting grid featured Jeff Gordon in the second position, Terry Labonte in the sixth slot and Jimmie Johnson in 17th.

Gordon, a two-time winner of the event, finished fifth after leading 16 laps of the 80-lap race in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet.  He took the lead for the first time at Lap 1, pacing all but one of the first 17 circuits.

As a former Shootout winner, the four-time Cup Series champion was automatically entered in Saturday’s race.  He also won pole positions at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (2), Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway last season.

Driving the No. 5 Kellogg’s / got milk? Monte Carlo, Terry Labonte finished eighth, but managed to lead the most laps (17) with one of the strongest cars in the field.

Labonte qualified for the race by virtue of his 1985 Shootout victory.  He also earned the pole at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in May of 2003.

Starting near the back of the field, Johnson quickly worked his way toward the front in his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevy, going from 17th to fourth by Lap 20.  He finished ninth overall, putting three Hendrick Motorsports teams in the top 10.

Johnson earned a Shootout bid by picking up pole positions at Pocono Raceway and Kansas Speedway last season.

Dale Jarrett earned his third career Shootout victory on Saturday, taking the lead for the first time on the event’s final lap.  He also won in 1996 and 2000.

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