Charlotte, N.C. (March 9, 2009) – Robby Gordon and the No. 7 Jim Beam team fell victim to bad timing and luck during Sunday’s 500-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Despite having a strong car, Gordon and the team finished 26, 3 laps down to race winner Kurt Busch.
Starting from the 19th position, Gordon called into his crew to report the handling was good. However as the run progressed, loose handling issues caused Gordon to go a lap down to the race leaders on lap 45 of the 325-lap event.
The field started to make green flag stops around Lap 60. Gordon came down pit road on Lap 65 with only one lap of fuel to spare. During the stop, the crew made adjustments to tighten the car, helping to alleviate the loose condition that was slowing Gordon throughout the prior run.
Just two laps after the Jim Beam team visited pit road the caution came out, trapping Gordon two laps behind the leader. With only six cars remaining on the lead lap, the team knew it would be very difficult to rebound, but they kept on digging.
The team continued to adjust on the Jim Beam Camry with each stop, but Gordon continually reported the car developing a loose condition as the run progressed. By Lap 260, Gordon was struggling to hang on to the loose Camry when he brushed the wall in Turn 4, leaving debris on the track which caused NASCAR to call a caution. The car sustained minimal damage, and the crew was able to pull out the fenders for a quick fix. On the same stop, the crew made additional adjustments to tighten the car and serviced Gordon with four tires and fuel.
Just laps after the restart, Gordon had to dive into the infield grass to avoid a multi-car wreck off the exit of Turn 4. The splitter on Gordon’s car was filled with grass and the engine was quickly overheating. With water temperatures nearing 300 degrees, Gordon brought his car down pit road to have tape removed allowing the water to cool and protect the engine. The crew also utilized the opportunity to make their final adjustments and top off the fuel tank.
From there, Gordon and his team slowly fought their way back up the leader board.. Hoping to salvage the day with a top-20 finish, the Jim Beam team ran into another setback. With only three laps remaining, the right rear tire on Gordon’s car went flat and exploded, shredding the rear quarter panel of the Jim Beam Camry, causing caution 11. Gordon brought his car down pit road for fresh tires and repairs. The crew quickly fixed the car as best they could without losing any additional laps and sent Gordon back out to the track. Gordon crossed the finish line in 26th position.
“We had a really strong car today,” said Robby Gordon. “We were capable of running lap times similar to the leaders, and probably could have finished in the top 10. Our strategy hurt us when we lost a lap during the green flag pit stops, but things out of our control, like the blown tire, also hurt us. Our car was great, and we can learn from the strategy. We’ll go back to the shop, evaluate everything that happened, and come back stronger in Bristol.”
Gordon will travel to San Felipe with his Robby Gordon Off-Road team to compete in the SCORE International Off-Road Series race. After winning the Laughlin Desert Challenge earlier this year, the team has decided to compete for the 2009 SCORE championship.
The No. 7 Jim Beam Camry and the Sprint Cup Series will be back in action at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 22, 2009. Television coverage will be provided by FOX at 1:30 p.m. EST. PRN and Sirius Satellite radio will have live radio coverage of the event beginning at 1:00 p.m. EST. Qualifying for the event will be on Friday, March 20th at 3:30 p..m. EST on SPEED.