FORT WORTH, Texas (April 4, 2004) – Jeff Gordon picked up his first top-five finish of 2004 on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway with a third-place showing in the Samsung/Radio Shack 500.
Gordon was leading late in the event before a brief electrical problem with his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet dropped him from the top spot. He quickly switched to his backup battery and continued in the top five.
“At first, I thought it was the ignition box,” said Gordon, who started ninth. “I flipped that and that didn’t do it. I thought it was an engine.
“I ended up flipping batteries and, man, that thing came back to life. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to it soon enough.”
The result was Gordon’s fifth top-10 in seven NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races this season, tying him for the lead in that category.
“I’ve been saying that top-10s are OK, but we need to put some top-fives together,” Gordon said. “Texas is turning into a track that’s pretty good for us. It used to be the one we didn’t want to come to because we’d either crashed or had some kind of problems.”
The third-place showing moved Gordon solidly into NASCAR’s Top 10, as he vaulted three spots to ninth. The four-time champion has a 57-point cushion over 10th-place Ryan Newman and sits just 141 markers behind new NEXTEL Cup leader Kurt Busch.
Joining Gordon in the top 10 was teammate Jimmie Johnson, who finished ninth after starting eighth in the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevy. It was his fourth top-10 result of 2004.
With one victory and three top-five finishes, Johnson is sixth in points, just 109 out of the top spot heading into an off-weekend for the NEXTEL Cup Series.
After qualifying 13th, Brian Vickers picked up his best finish of the 2004 season on Sunday, crossing the finish line 12th in the No. 25 GMAC Financial Services Monte Carlo.
The 20-year-old rookie moved from 28th to 26th in the standings and sits just 200 points out of NASCAR’s Top 10.
Terry Labonte’s Texas homecoming was disappointing for the two-time Cup Series champion thanks to an engine malfunction (broken cam shaft) that ended his streak of consecutive races without a DNF (did not finish) at 48, just eight shy of Gordon’s all-time record.
A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, Labonte finished 41st after starting 30th in the No. 5 Kellogg’s/Delphi Chevy. He is now 23rd in points.
Elliott Sadler crossed the finish line just ahead of second-place Kasey Kahne for his first win of 2004.
The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will enjoy a rare off-weekend in observation of the Easter holiday before visiting Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sunday, April 18. Broadcast live on FOX and MRN Radio, the event is scheduled for a 1 p.m. ET green flag.