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Weekly Racing Journal

Race/Date: The Winston Open/May 17, 2003
(non-points, all-star event)
Location: Lowe’s Motor Speedway
Start Position: 14th
Finish Position: 14th

Race Recap:

The Winston Open is a driver’s last shot to get into The Winston, NASCAR’s annual all-star event under the lights at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Only the first team to cross the finish line at the end of the 30-lap shootout will transfer to The Winston and have a shot at $1 million. Robby Gordon and the No. 31 Cingular Wireless team battled hard to beat 26 other teams in the Open Saturday but came up short.

From the drop of the green flag, Gordon began to make his way toward the front. He picked up four spots by lap three to run in the 10th position and picked up another seven spots over the next three laps to take over the third spot.

On lap 16, Gordon radioed that the car was developing a tight condition and that the water temperature was reading 290 degrees. He kept the Richard Childress Racing (RCR) machine running in the top 10 until the mandatory caution was brought out at the completion of the first 20 laps, where all but the top-14 cars were eliminated, and advanced to the final 10-lap dash to the checkered flag.

Gordon came down pit road for right-side tires, chassis adjustments and to pull tape from the grill during the mandatory stop between the two race segments. Unfortunately, the car was dropped from the jack before the front-tire changer was able to move the air hose from in front of the car. Gordon ran over an air hose, a rules violation, and NASCAR brought the car back down pit road for a stop-and-go penalty. The Cingular team took on left-side tires and added water to the radiator during the second stop.

By the time of the restart for the 10-lap shootout, the RCR engine had begun to cool. Track position was at a premium, though, and the team, unsure if it could make it to the front, made the call on lap 26 to park the No. 31 Chevrolet Monte Carlo and not take a chance at damaging the engine.

Robby Gordon Quotes:
"I think right away we kind of got taken out of the Open, even if we would have made it, I don’t know if our engine would have made it. The thing ran 260 degrees before lap two. We don’t know why that was; we even took tape off of it. I think that when we broke the gear in practice yesterday we hurt the motor and we never had a chance to go back out and see if everything was okay.

"We went for it at the start but we just didn’t have the time or the power. At least we learned this week what we have to do for next week."