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Weekly Racing Journal

Race/Date: Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500/March 9, 2003

(Fourth of 36 races)

Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway

Start Position: 18th

Finish Position: 17th

Points Position: 17th

Race Recap:

Robby Gordon and the No. 31 Cingular Wireless team battled a finicky race car but time became their biggest foe Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Having run well under overcast skies Saturday in Happy Hour, Team Cingular anticipated a strong run in the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500, but the sun came out and changed the car’s handling. Gordon radioed in that the Cingular Wireless Chevrolet was tight and would not grip the race track. Due to a caution-free run early in the race, the field became spread out behind the leader. Without the chance to pit to work on the car, Gordon fell to the 30th spot by lap 46 and made a green-flag pit stop on lap 57 for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments. Good work on pit road moved him up three spots to 27th and Gordon steered the Cingular machine into 25th by lap 76 but lost a lap to the leader in the process.

Team Cingular continued to struggle with the car’s handling as it shifted back and forth between tight and loose conditions. Crew chief Kevin Hamlin adjusted the car accordingly during the next several rounds of pit stops and Gordon began posting much faster lap times to claim the 15th spot by lap 192. Gordon came down pit road for service on lap 211 but air pressure adjustments made on that pit stop caused the Cingular Wireless Chevrolet to become too tight and Gordon dropped into the 23rd spot.

The team pitted on lap 268 to correct the air pressures that had caused Gordon so much trouble. He soon radioed in that the Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was running very well and immediately began posting quick lap times and passing cars. Although he had a strong race car, Gordon was unable to position himself on the track to make up his lap and move into the top 15. The leader had such a lead on the strung-out field that only nine cars were running on the lead lap at the end. Team Cingular ran out of time just as the car was hitting its peak and finished in the 17th position.

Gordon holds the 17th position in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings, just six points out of 15th and 42 out of 10th.

Robby Gordon Quotes:
"We had an up-and-down day all day today. The Cingular Wireless Chevrolet was really tight when we started and then would get loose. The guys worked hard on making adjustments each time we pitted and we made up some ground and got up to 15th. We really had probably a 12th-place car there at the end but we couldn’t get our lap back and could only move up so far as a result. If I could have just restarted next to the leader that last time, we could have gotten our lap back and it would have been a different ball game. We had a car to run with them there in the end.”