Race/Date: Carolina Dodge Dealers 400
(Fifth out of 36)
Location: Darlington (Darlington, S.C.) Raceway
Start Position: 30th
Finish Position: 28th
Points Position: 21st
Darlington Raceway remains the track "Too Tough to Tame"
for Robby Gordon and the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Team. In the Carolina
Dodge Dealers 400 it was all about being in the right place at the
right time and Team Cingular did not have that luck this week.
After running 19th fastest in practice, Gordon
qualified in the 30th spot for Sunday’s race. Using notes from previous
Darlington races, Team Cingular found a good race trim package and
picked up two spots in the first three laps. However, the No. 31
Cingular Wireless Chevrolet was caught behind some trouble on lap
12 and again on lap 23. Extensive damage was done to the nose of
the car, forcing Team Cingular to make repairs throughout the race.
Quick, accurate work by Team Cingular’s pit crew
allowed Gordon to remain on the lead lap for almost the entire first
half of the 293-lap event. Excellent pit strategy permitted him
to move up and run in the 23rd spot. Gordon was also able to pick
up five championship points for leading a lap during a caution.
However, once the repairs began to deteriorate,
so did the car’s handling. Unfortunately, on lap 78, Gordon radioed
in that the car was tight and had no front downforce. Crew chief
Kevin Hamlin made several adjustments and repairs over the next
40 laps before losing a lap to the leaders.
By lap 124 Gordon had fallen back into the 35th
spot. Hamlin made several green-flag stops during the next 100 laps
to improve the aerodynamics of the Cingular car. After several adjustments
and replacing the right nose of the car, the conditions began to
improve. With 13 cars two laps down and only nine cars on the lead
lap, Gordon was still able to battle for position and pick up seven
spots to finish in 28th place.
Robby Gordon Quotes:
"It was a tough day for Team Cingular. It’s all about track
position at Darlington and we just didn’t have it. Early on we got
into a few other cars while trying to check up after a spin out
and did a lot of damage to the nose of the car. The guys did all
they could to repair it but the damage was done. The Cingular car
grew real tight and I just couldn’t get any downforce going into
the corners. I think if we had stayed out of trouble we would have
had a good shot at a top-ten finish."