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Harrah's 500 - Texas Motor Speedway

Jeff Gordon will start 9th in Sunday's race after turning a lap of 28.564 sec (189.049 mph). Dale Earnhardt, who won this, his 13th Winston Cup race, last year, will start on the pole position. Earnhardt, Jr., who was the fifth qualifier took the provisional pole away from Dale Jarrett and held onto it for the remainder of the session. Bobby Labonte, Jarrett, Bobby Hamilton, and Steve Park, who was fastest in practice, round out the top-five.

Texas Motor Speedway hasn't been kind to Jeff Gordon. In the four years of its existence, Gordon has never finished better than 25th. All that changed on Sunday, as Gordon drove the #24 DuPont Chevrolet to a 5th place finish at TMS.

Gordon raced in the top-5 for most of the event, but a late-race two tire change moved him into second behind Johnny Benson. It appeared that Jeff would drive right by Benson, who didn't change tires on the last round of pit stops. And with the nearest cars to take 4 tires back in 6 with only 18 laps to go, it looked like Gordon had a shot at winning. However, his car tightened up and he couldn't get around the slower car of Benson. Soon, Dale Jarrett, who had taken four tires, had caught up to them both and blew by Gordon out of turn 2. Soon Jarrett took the lead, which is where he stayed to go on and win the event, which moved Benson back to second and left Gordon to challenge him. Gordon went high to make a pass, but that left a window for Steve Park to move his car into third. Gordon had been shuffled back to fourth, but was still trying to get past the now third-place Johnny Benson. After one last try allowed Kurt Busch to get past him, Gordon was content to finish fifth.

"Considering our track record here, fifth is like a win for us," said Gordon, who had never fared better than 25th at Texas prior to Sunday. "The car was so tight, I couldn't get by Benson. The guys with four tires blew right by us."

With his fifth place finish and Jarrett's(1) win, Gordon(2) lost a little ground to Jarrett in the points standings. Dale Jarrett now leads Jeff Gordon by 75 points.


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