BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 28, 2004) – Jimmie Johnson and Team Lowe’s Racing turned in a third-place performance Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway, leading the Hendrick Motorsports contingent at the half-mile oval. Coming off a practice mistake Friday and a difficult string of three consecutive DNFs, the team rallied with a strong effort at one of the most difficult venues on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule. “It was a great day for the Lowe’s Monte Carlo,” said Johnson, who started the race 11th. “I’ve just got to thank these crew guys and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and all the Lowe’s employee owners for not giving up on me. “It’s been a tough month. I made a mistake (Friday) and crashed the car (in practice). To bring out a backup car and have a third-place finish with it is really good.” Johnson, now one of just three drivers to clinch a spot in NASCAR’s “Chase for the NEXTEL Cup,” remains second in the standings, 24 points behind teammate Jeff Gordon. Driving the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, Gordon finished 14th after starting from the pole position. The four-time champion now has six poles, five victories and 17 top-10 finishes through 24 NEXTEL Cup events this season, putting him first on the circuit in each category. Gordon was followed closely by Terry Labonte, who finished 15th after qualifying 12th in the No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevy, and rookie Brian Vickers, who started and finished 20th in the No. 25 GMAC Financial Services Monte Carlo. Labonte and Vickers remain 23rd and 24th in the standings, respectively. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Bristol on Saturday, earning his fourth victory of 2004. The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will next visit the two-mile oval of California Speedway on Sunday, Sept. 5. Broadcast by NBC and MRN Radio, the event is scheduled for a 7 p.m. ET green flag.