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Weekly Racing Journal

Race/Date: Samsung/Radio Shack 500/March 30, 2003
(Seventh of 36 races)
Location: Texas Motor Speedway
Start Position: 21st
Finish Position: 18th
Points Position: 19th

Race Recap:
A sign of a strong NASCAR Winston Cup team is one that learns from the past and improves each week. Robby Gordon and the No. 31 Cingular Wireless team have struggled recently at mile-and-a-half race tracks similar to Texas Motor Speedway, but they finished up the weekend Sunday with a better understanding of the new Chevrolet Monte Carlo and an eye on the top 10 in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings.

The No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet was strong in the opening laps of the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 and Gordon steered it into the 11th position by lap 18. But as was the case with several other cars, it developed a tight-handling condition as the race progressed.

The second caution flag of the event waved on lap 43 and allowed Team Cingular the opportunity to work on the car the following lap. Gordon pitted for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments, but some teams took only two fresh tires and Gordon restarted the race in the 13th spot.

However, the tight condition continued to plague Team Cingular despite a couple of additional pit stops and Gordon fell as far as 30th by lap 123. Crew chief Kevin Hamlin’s hard work and experience began to pay off as the Cingular Wireless machine soon handled better and became one of the top-10 fastest cars on the race track. Gordon placed it in the 17th position by lap 236, although passing was at a premium Sunday on the virtually one-groove track. Unfortunately, several consecutive caution periods wreaked havoc on the Richard Childress Racing machine’s handling as it was very loose in the initial laps of a run and the caution flags were falling within five laps after a restart, disallowing the car to show its true potential on a longer run.

The final caution waved on lap 281 and Gordon came in for four tires and air pressure adjustments to tighten up the handling. A few teams took two tires and Gordon fell into 20th for the restart. The Cingular car was much better and Gordon ran as high as 16th before crossing the finish line in the 18th position.

He gained ground in the NASCAR Winston Cup points battle and moved into 19th, only 15 points out of 15th and 65 out of the 10th spot.

Robby Gordon Quotes:
"All the Richard Childress Racing teams have struggled on the mile-and-a-half tracks like Texas the past year. But Kevin Harvick tested here a couple of weeks ago and they figured out a lot of stuff that we were able to put to use. We still have some work to do on the Cingular Wireless car but we know what we’re missing and how to fix it. We had a pretty good day today and are fairly pleased with our finish. We really wanted a top-15 finish but we learned something about our car today and gained in the points a bit. We should be pretty good next time we run at one of these tracks."