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NASCAR SPRINT CUP > News > Race Reports

Mac Tools Martinsville Post Race

Robby Gordon

No. 7 Mac Tools Ford Fusion

Post Race Report

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (October 22, 2007) – Robby Gordon was one of the busiest drivers in the garage this weekend. He spent his time traveling between Martinsville, Va., where the NEXTEL Cup Series was racing, and Texas Motor Speedway for a Championship Off Road Racing event.

The No. 7 Mac Tools Ford Fusion looked like it would deliver an excellent performance in Martinsville on Sunday after both Gordon and Craftsman Truck Series competitor, Brendan Gaughan posted fast practice times. Despite the fast laps in practice, Gordon qualified 39th place for Sunday’s Subway 500.

Early Sunday morning the No. 7 team received shocking news. Peter Sospenzo, Gordon’s crew chief, had been taken to the hospital for further diagnosis after reporting symptoms of dizziness. Later in the afternoon, Sospenzo was moved to a hospital closer to his family. At this point, the diagnosis is still inconclusive.

The team pulled together and decided that car chief, Bill Henderson, would call the race in Sospenzo’s absence. At the start of the race, Gordon patiently worked to pass cars on the tight half-mile track. He came over the radio on lap 26 and told his car chief, Bill Henderson, that the car was tight in the middle of the turns.

By lap 27, the leaders caught the back of the field and began lapping cars. Gordon lost his first lap of the day on lap 34. A few laps later, Gordon told the crew that the car was way too tight. It wouldn’t turn in the middle of the corners, and it felt like it just wanted to go straight into the wall. On lap 43, Gordon radioed the crew and told them that the car was bouncing on the entry to the corners.

The yellow flag came out for the first time on lap 44. Unfortunately, the caution was for Gordon. The No. 7 hit the wall in the middle of turns three and four after cutting a right front tire. He struggled to get his Fusion around the track and down pit road, but he finally made it around for the crew to assess the damage.

After evaluating the damage, the crew told Gordon to pull into the garage. The team did major repair work to get Gordon back on the track to try to gain as many positions and points as possible. They fixed the sway bar, tie rod, steering arm, replaced the right front shock and made a few additional adjustments.

After making repairs, Gordon finally got back in the No. 7 Mac Tools Fusion and headed back to the track on lap 156 in the 43rd position, 113 laps behind the leaders.

After he returned to the track, the No. 7 Mac Tools Fusion was driving and handling good. However, by lap 183 Gordon came over the radio and told his crew that the car began bouncing through the middle of the corners.

Henderson called Gordon down pit road during the next caution period to get adjustments. The crew put two rounds in the right rear, raised the trackbar one round and packed the fuel cell.

On lap 207, Gordon had stayed out long enough to pick up a position, moving to the 42nd position. He was patiently waiting to pick up as many positions as possible.

The caution flag flew again on lap 214. Gordon told the crew that the No. 7 Mac Tools Fusion was still tight in the middle, but loose off the corners. Henderson called for one round to be put in the trackbar, and one round to be taken out of the right rear. Gordon came down pit road for the adjustments, four tires and fuel.

By lap 225, Gordon passed another car to move into the 41st position. He told the crew that the car was handling well and rotating around the corners pretty well.

The team came down pit road for the next time under the lap 257 caution period. The Mac Tools Fusion was given four fresh tires, a tank of fuel, and the trackbar was raised an additional round. Gordon was passed by the leaders while he was on pit road and was put an additional lap down. Even though he was 114 laps down from the leaders, Gordon knew that he could gain two additional spots from cars with recent engine failure.

Gordon came over the radio on lap 327 and told his crew that the car was developing steering issues. He said that it felt like the steering wheel was catching on something and predicted that it might be a tie rod that was causing the problem. A couple laps later, the team’s spotter, Nick Defazio, reported seeing smoke out of the left front. The smoke subsided by the next lap, and Gordon said that he could finish the race with the steering issues. Through all the commotion, Gordon was passed by the leaders one more time. The team continued on in the race, still in the 41st position, but now 115 laps behind the leaders.

The No. 7 Mac Tools Ford Fusion developed a vibration while braking on lap 356. Gordon felt out the vibration and decided to continue on until the next caution. Gordon picked up two more spots on laps 375 and 376, as he finally passed cars that had engine failures earlier in the day.

The caution flag finally flew on lap 394. It allowed the Mac Tools team an opportunity to fix the vibration that Gordon’s car developed during the previous run. They gave the car four fresh tires and took a round and a half out of the left rear.

Gordon came down pit road for his final stop during the caution period on lap 441. Gordon wanted his set of scuffed tires. While he was there, the team also packed the fuel cell.

The final 50 laps were filled with caution flags. The event was supposed to end with a green-white-checker finish, but the caution flag came out on lap 504, and the race ended under the yellow flag on lap 505. Gordon brought the No. 7 Mac Tools Ford Fusion home in the 39th position, 116 laps behind the leaders.

“First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers are with Peter and his family. Peter is a good person and I hate that he is going through this,” said Gordon.

“Today was really difficult altogether, especially with Peter not being here. The No. 7 team did a great job pulling together. Bill and the guys did great getting me back out on the track. It was the same thing as Charlotte, we were out there by ourselves making laps and trying to salvage a decent point’s day, but we weren’t really racing anyone. Even after we wrecked, we were fast when we were racing in the pack. It’s just frustrating when you know you could race well, but you’re not actually racing for position.”

The team left Martinsville in the 28th position in the NEXTEL Cup Series owner’s standings. They are just 133 points out of the 25th position and 377 points away from the team’s season long goal of 20th.

Next weekend, the series travels to the Atlanta Motor Speedway. The event will be broadcast on ABC with coverage beginning at 1:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, October 28, 2007.

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