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Weekly Racing Journal

Race/Date: Subway 400/Feb. 23, 2003

(Second of 36 races)

Location: North Carolina Speedway

Start Position: 19th

Finish Position: 29th

Race Recap:

The Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway let a little wind out of the sails of Robby Gordon and the No. 31 Cingular Wireless team Sunday, but they weren’t alone. Following a strong showing last weekend at Daytona, Team Cingular and several other Chevrolet teams struggled at Rockingham, with only two finishing in the top 15 (the highest-finishing Chevrolet was eighth).

Bad weather all weekend restricted the NASCAR Winston Cup teams to only one hour of practice Friday afternoon prior to qualifying. Saturday was a washout and Sunday’s weather was expected to be much cooler and windier than Friday’s conditions. So, the teams were forced to guess on their set-ups and the Chevrolet teams were at an instant disadvantage working with brand-new race cars that had not yet raced anywhere other than a 2.5-mile superspeedway.

The No. 31 Richard Childress Racing (RCR) machine was tight and hard to steer early in the race and Gordon fell to the 28th position by lap 22 of the 393-lap event. Team Cingular pitted under caution on lap 48 for four fresh tires, fuel and chassis adjustments to loosen up the car’s handling. During the next 80 laps, the team continued to work on the tight condition but Gordon radioed in the shocks were the problem as the car bounced around the track too much. As not many adjustments can be made to the shocks during the race, crew chief Kevin Hamlin continued to try to fine-tune the car in other ways. But Gordon had dropped as far 36th by lap 178 and had a lot of ground to make up.

The team got a better grip on the car’s handling during the second half of the race and Gordon began posting some of the fastest lap times on the race track. Unfortunately, he had already lost a lap by that time and heavy traffic prevented him from making up his lap. Gordon picked up a couple of positions in the closing laps to cross the finish line in the 29th position.

Robby Gordon Quotes:

"Rockingham was tough on the No. 31 Cingular Wireless team. We were loose in qualifying for the first time in a long time with this new car and thought everything would be good when we pulled the tape off in race trim. But we didn’t get any race practice and soon realized the shocks were all wrong. I was bouncing and sliding everywhere.

"The guys worked hard each pit stop with chassis adjustments and we slowly got a better handling car, but had already lost one lap. We were pretty good the second half of the race, but just couldn’t get in the position to get that lap back. There wasn’t anywhere for us to go.”