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Weekly Racing Journal

Race/Date: Auto Club 500/April 27, 2003

(10th of 36 races)

Location: California Speedway

Start Position: 26th

Finish Position: 27th

Points Position: 16th

Race Recap:

Races are measured in laps and the difference in the Cingular Wireless team’s day at California Speedway was one more lap on the track before making a pit stop.

Robby Gordon and the No. 31 Cingular Wireless team had moved up to the 18th place by staying on the track during a round of pit stops on lap 208. Luck wasn’t on the team’s side, however, as the caution flag waved at the same time Gordon stopped in the pit box for his green-flag pit stop.

Fresh off a strong Happy Hour practice session Saturday, Gordon began Sunday’s 250-lap race with high expectations of a strong run. But he soon radioed in that the car wasn’t handling as it had done in practice. The Cingular Wireless Chevrolet was loose entering the corners and tight upon exit. California Speedway is a two-mile, flat track that lends itself to long, green-flag runs that allow the leader to put a good deal of distance between himself and the rest of the pack. Since Gordon was trying to manage an ill-handling car, that gap between him and the leader widened even more with each lap.

Team Cingular lost a lap on lap 82 but continued to make chassis adjustments during each pit stop. The race went green for a while and teams began making green-flag pit stops around lap 205. With Gordon running 18th, crew chief Kevin Hamlin kept Gordon on the track as long as possible in case the caution flag waved but was forced to call the driver into the pits on lap 208 for service. Unfortunately, the caution flag waved at the same time Gordon brought the Richard Childress Racing machine to a stop in his pit box. As a result, Team Cingular lost a second lap to the leaders.

The Cingular team continued to make chassis adjustments to improve the car’s handling and Gordon picked up a few more positions with about 30 laps remaining. But he got caught up in a caution on lap 230 when another car hit the Cingular machine in the rear and punted it into the infield grass. The car sustained no damage but the tires were flat spotted and Gordon lost several spots on the track. He made up as much as ground as he could in the closing laps and crossed the finish line in the 27th spot.

Gordon sits 16th in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings, a mere 96 points out of 10th place.

Robby Gordon Quotes:

“The Cingular Wireless team had a tough day, especially after running so well in Happy Hour. We almost got really lucky and got 16th or 17th but missed it by one lap. It was a long day because we could never get hold of the race track. We bounced on all sides of it but never hit the sweet spot. Then bad luck bit us again with about 20 laps to go when another car hit us and we lost a few spots we had just gained. It was a long day.”