Gordon hopes to continue hot streak Winston Cup leader seeks 4th victory in row

THE BALTIMORE SUN

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Jeff Gordon Express is set to check out of the Charlotte Motor Speedway "station" today at 1: 10 p.m.

Forty-two other NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers will be trying to derail the run in the UAW-GM Quality 500.

With Gordon as the engineer and crew chief Ray Evernham serving as the conductor/fireman, the Hendrick Motorsports team's Chevrolet has been running as smooth and fast as a bullet train the past six weeks.

Gordon, 25, has won three Winston Cup races in a row and four of the past five. In a six-event span he also has two runner-up showings for an average finish in the period of 1.33.

This has let Gordon build a 111-point lead over teammate Terry Labonte toward a second straight Winston Cup championship, with only today's 334-lap race on the 1.5-mile track and three other races left in a 31-event season.

Gordon, who has a season-leading 10 victories, starts in excellent position to add another.

He will line up on the front row alongside the Chevy of Bobby Labonte, who qualified Wednesday night at 184.068 mph. Gordon clocked a lap of 182.574 mph.

"Charlotte has and hasn't been good to us," said Gordon, who scored the first of his 19 career victories at the track in the Coca-Cola 600 of 1994. "It can go both ways. I hope, of course, it goes toward the good side Sunday.

"We had a fourth place in the 600 in May, and I'm hoping for another top-five finish this time. I'm not asking for too much. We're not expecting to go out and win the race, but we know we're better than having a 30th-place car."

1. (18) Bobby Labonte, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 184.068. 2. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 182.574. 3. (37) Jeremy Mayfield, Ford Thunderbird, 182.451. 4. (43) Bobby Hamilton, Pontiac Grand Prix, 182.272. 5. (27) Todd Bodine, Ford Thunderbird, 182.272. 6. (29) Jeff Green, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 182.260. 7. (99) Jeff Burton, Ford Thunderbird, 182.217. 8. (41) Ricky Craven, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 181.947. 9. (28) Ernie Irvan, Ford Thunderbird, 181.849. 10. (88) Dale Jarrett, Ford Thunderbird, 181.720.

11. (21) Michael Waltrip, Ford Thunderbird, 181.708. 12. (6) Mark Martin, Ford Thunderbird, 181.635. 3. (14) Robby Gordon, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 181.629. 14. (22) Ward Burton, Pontiac Grand Prix, 181.598. 15. (75) Morgan Shepherd, Ford Thunderbird, 181.093. 16. (5) Terry Labonte, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 181.087. 17. (30) Johnny Benson Jr., Pontiac Grand Prix, 180.796. 18. (1) Rick Mast, Pontiac Grand Prix, 180.693. 19. (16) Ted Musgrave, Ford Thunderbird, 180.687. 20. (9) Lake Speed, Ford Thunderbird, 180.650.

21. (94) Bill Elliott, Ford Thunderbird, 180.632. 22. (11) Brett Bodine, Ford Thunderbird, 180.602. 23. (2) Rusty Wallace, Ford Thunderbird, 180.355. 24. (8) Hut Stricklin, Ford Thunderbird, 180.234. 25. (77) Bobby Hillin Jr., Ford Thunderbird, 180.090. 26. (7) Geoff Bodine, Ford Thunderbird, 180.078. 27. (25) Ken Schrader, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 180.000. 28. (23) Jimmy Spencer, Ford Thunderbird, 179.970. 29. (90) Dick Trickle, Ford Thunderbird, 179.844. 30. (97) Chad Little, Pontiac Grand Prix, 179.832.

31. (98) John Andretti, Ford Thunderbird, 179.796. 32. (78) Billy Standridge, Ford Thunderbird, 179.754. 33. (4) Sterling Marlin, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 179.706. 34. (3) Dale Earnhardt, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 179.164. 35. (40) Greg Sacks, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 179.611. 36. (12) Derrike Cope, Ford Thunderbird, 179.545. 37. (15) Wally Dallenbach Jr., Ford Thunderbird, 179.253. 38. (19) Loy Allen Jr., Ford Thunderbird, 179.122. 39. (10) Ricky Rudd, Ford Thunderbird, provisional starter. 40. (42) Kyle Petty, Pontiac Grand Prix, provisional starter.

41. (81) Kenny Wallace, Ford Thunderbird, provisional starter. 42. (33) Robert Pressley, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, provisional starter. 43. (17) Darrell Waltrip, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, provisional starter.

Pub Date: 10/06/96

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