Ford 400/Nov. 16, 2003
(36th of 36 races)
Start Position: 39th
Finish Position: 30th
Points Position: 16th
The recent renovations to the Homestead-Miami
Speedway definitely resulted in some exciting racing Sunday afternoon
as the Cingular Wireless team wrapped up its final NASCAR Winston
Cup Series race of the season, holding onto 16th place in the 2003
championship point standings.
Robby Gordon and the Cingular Wireless crew started
the day with a strong run, moving from 39th place up to 20th after
an early-race caution on lap three.
From that point on, Gordon and crew continued
to gain better position on the track. Taking advantage of the second
caution flag of the day on lap 28, the Cingular Wireless team made
its first pit stop to take four tires and fuel and to pull a half
round of rubber out of the right front to try to loosen up the slightly
tight-handling No. 31 Chevrolet. The race was back to green on lap
30 with Gordon running in 19th place.
After staying in the top-25 for more than 50
laps, the Cingular Wireless driver pitted for the second time of
the day during the third caution to take right-side tires and fuel.
The quick stop projected Gordon into the 12th position. Less than
10 laps later, Gordon pitted quickly under the fourth caution to
address concern regarding the right-front tire. The team took four
fresh tires and fuel. Back to green-flag racing on lap 85, the No.
31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet was in 32nd place. With the fresh
tires on board, Gordon charged forward.
The No. 31 Chevy began to tighten up on Gordon
again, as he was approaching the 100th lap of the 267-lap event.
The Cingular Wireless Chevrolet began to fall back in the field
outside the top 25, then the fifth caution flag waved on lap 120
and gave the No. 31 Cingular Wireless team the little time they
needed to take right-side tires and fuel and to make minor chassis
adjustments to improve the handling of the race car. Just 7.22 seconds
later, Gordon’s team had him back on track and running inside
the top ten.
Five laps later, the entire mood of the Cingular
Wireless team changed as they watch the No. 31 Chevrolet fall back
through the field once more. Gordon radioed the team he was battling
a problem with the transmission, which did not want to stay in fourth
gear. Gordon returned to pit road, so the team could use a bungee
cord to tie back the stripped gear shift as the rest of the field
continued to lap the race track.
Gordon returned to the field with a little more
than 110 laps to go, eight laps down in 34th place.
The remaining laps Gordon and team worked to
gain as much ground as possible, hoping they could hang onto 16th
in the championship points and they did just that. Gordon finished
30th with his teammate Kevin Harvick finishing second and fifth
in points and teammate Steve Park finishing 19th and 32nd in points.
“I just want to thank the Cingular Wireless
team for this year. We had two great wins and three, if you count
the 125 in Daytona. They all worked so hard and continued to work
hard even when we weren’t running the best. I wish we could
have wrapped up the year on a less somber note, but I guess that’s
what we were dealt and we did the best we could. One thing for sure
is this track is fast and that’s the way I like it. I just
wish we could have had a little more fun with it today. But we did
hold onto 16th in the point positions so I’ll take it.”