Weekly Racing Journal
Race/Date: Daytona 500/Feb. 16, 2003
(First of 36 races)
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway
Start Position: Third
Finish Position: Sixth
Points Position: Seventh
Robby Gordon and the No. 31 Cingular Wireless
team opened the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season Sunday with
a strong car and a sixth-place finish in the Daytona 500. Good equipment
and the know-how to use it are keys to success on the 2.5-mile superspeedway
and Cingular Wireless Racing was up to the task Sunday.
Armed with a victory in Thursday’s Gatorade Twin
125 and a third-starting position, Gordon quickly hooked up to the
draft and moved into the second spot by lap three. He carefully
chose his line and remained in the top 10 until the first green-flag
pit stop on lap 34. Team Cingular pitted for four tires, fuel and
air pressure adjustments to loosen up the car’s handling. Unfortunately,
the rear-tire changer slipped while running around the rear of the
car and lost valuable seconds on pit road. Gordon returned to the
track in the 23rd spot, the furthest back he would run the rest
of the day.
The Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was back in the fifth position
following a fuel-only pit stop under caution on lap 44. NASCAR displayed
the red flag after the completion of 63 laps for rain, with Team
Cingular holding the fifth spot. The race resumed under caution
roughly one hour later and Gordon brought the Cingular Wireless
Chevrolet down pit road for two tires and fuel. Quick work in the
pits moved Gordon into the fourth position. The green flag waved
to begin racing on lap 68 and Gordon tried the high and low grooves
on the track to find the best spot for his car to draft.
He soon hooked up with teammate Kevin Harvick
and the two powered back into the top five again. Gordon continued
to draft behind Harvick until the rain began returned on lap 109.
NASCAR officials displayed the red flag and tried several times
to dry the track but continuous rain forced them to call the race
after the completion of 109 or 200-scheduled laps. Gordon was credited
with the sixth position.
Robby Gordon Quotes:
"We had a great car today. I think I had
a fast enough car and Kevin had a fast enough car, and I tried to
work with him a lot there and we moved up through the field. Tony
Stewart was also fast behind us. It looked like guys were getting
tight and that’s how we were able to pass cars on the outside late
in the run, but the biggest thing was staying on the bottom and
protecting your line.
"The Cingular team is really happy with
our finish today. It was pretty hairy out there so we’re glad the
car is in one piece. I just wish we’d had a little more time because
I think Kevin and I could’ve made a move for the lead and one of
us won the race. But we showed that the Cingular team is strong
and we’ve worked out all of the kinks from last season. It looks
like RCR is back. We just need to keep running like this the rest
of the year."