Gordon says he wants to win for Hendricks

DALLAS -- Jeff Gordon said he is determined to win his fifth Nextel Cup championship for the 10 people who died in a Hendrick Motorsports plane crash last weekend.

"I've never been so inspired and driven in my life," Gordon said. "I can't think of anything that could drive us harder and make us stronger than this loss. We badly want this championship. This will make us dig a little deeper."

Gordon and some other competitors who work for NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick spoke Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was their first comments since the tragedy.

Hendrick lost four family members, including team president John Hendrick, Rick's brother. But the team also lost other key people in the organization, including engine builder Randy Dorton, general manager John Turner and team president John Hendrick, Rick's brother.

Gordon and teammate Jimmie Johnson are two of the 10 drivers in the Chase for the Nextel Cup. Gordon ranks second, 96 points behind Kurt Busch. Johnson, who has won the last two races, is 207 points back in fourth place.


Chad Knaus, Johnson's crew chief, said he is astounded at how well Hendrick employees have responded.

"It was a tough thing to walk into that shop Monday morning," Knaus said. "There was an emptiness and a void. It was like a ghost town. But when I came in on Tuesday, it was an amazing transformation. Those guys put their heads down and went to work."

Terry Labonte, a two-time Cup champion, said all 400 Hendrick employees are focused on making something good happen.

"We're going to get through this," Labonte said. "We are working together to get Hendrick Motorsports another championship in honor of the people we've lost. If we didn't, they would be mad at us."

Source:Knight-Ridder News Service

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