BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 20, 2004) – Jimmie Johnson started third and finished fourth on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, earning his series-leading 10th top-five result of the 2004 season.
The performance put Johnson and Team Lowe’s Racing into the lead in the NEXTEL Cup championship standings after 15 of 36 races.
Driving the No. 5 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet, Brian Vickers finished ninth after starting from the outside pole position, picking up his second top-10 finish of the year.
The Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate moved to 19th in points, a jump of three positions over last week.
After moving into the top-10 from the rear of the field, two-time Cup Series champion Terry Labonte came in 26th at Michigan in the No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevy. He qualified 31st, but started from the rear of the field following an engine change on Friday.
Labonte is now tied with Robby Gordon for 20th in points.
Jeff Gordon started from the pole position for the second time this season and dominated much of the early going, but finished a disappointing 38th because of engine problems.
“We blew up, which is a rare occasion for Hendrick Motorsports,” Gordon said. “We’re making such great power these days and we’ve got the reliability as well. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case today.
“What a great race team and race car I’ve got right now. It’s unfortunate we’re not going to be able to take advantage of it. I was coming down the back straightaway and started to feel it vibrate. I saw the smoke and popped it out of gear and shut it off. I’m pretty sure it’s something in the bottom end—a rod or something like that.”
Now sitting sixth in championship points, Gordon remains solidly in NASCAR’s Top 10.
The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will next visit the road course of Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Live coverage of the event will be carried on FOX (4 p.m. ET) and PRN Radio (3:15 p.m. ET).