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Rockingham Race Recap

Robby Gordon and the No. 31 Cingular Wireless team lost the shot at a top-10 finish Sunday at Rockingham when a lapped car spun out the Cingular Wireless Chevrolet at the end of the race.

Starting from the 16th position, Gordon began steering the Richard Childress Racing machine through the field and into the 10th position by lap 59. He radioed the crew that the car was very good but its handling was tight in the middle of the corners, causing the nose of the Cingular Wireless Chevrolet to push up the race track. Gordon brought the No. 31 Chevy down pit road for a routine pit stop on lap 100, and the crew gave him four fresh tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments to loosen up the car. Those changes solved a bit of the problem but the tight condition lingered for much of the 393-lap race and Gordon learned to compensate for it.

He continued to focus on hitting his marks on the racetrack and held the Cingular Wireless Chevy in the top 15 until a big accident on lap 157 handed the No. 31 car a hint of front-end damage. The wreck broke out in front of Gordon and spotter Tim Overby did a great job of coaching Gordon around the track to avoid the pile-up. Nevertheless, Gordon lightly rear-ended another car who stopped suddenly amidst the thick cloud of smoke that left the drivers picking their way down the track. The Cingular Wireless team lost several positions during the melee and was running in the 19th position when Gordon pitted for fresh tires and quick sheet metal repairs.

The Cingular Wireless Chevrolet was never quite as strong after that incident but Gordon still managed to keep it in the top 12 during the next 100 laps. The crew continued to make slight air pressure adjustments to loosen up the car’s handling in the turns and Gordon nabbed the 10th position on lap 288. He fought lapped traffic and worn-out tires and claimed the ninth position by lap 372. But all that perseverance didn’t matter much when a rookie driver in a lapped car pushed down onto Gordon’s Cingular Wireless Chevrolet, spinning it around and into the retaining wall on lap 387.

Gordon’s car sustained a flat tire and moderate sheet metal damage, but most importantly, he lost a lap to the leaders while trying to turn the car around and get it re-fired. NASCAR threw the caution flag after Gordon went down one lap to the leaders, so he ducked onto pit road for four fresh tires. The crew sent him back out to complete the remaining laps under caution and Gordon crossed the finish line in the 24th position.

Robby Gordon Quotes:
"I’m extremely disappointed about what happened to the Cingular Wireless team there at the end. We had a great car all day, although it was a little tight, and we were going to finish in the top 10 and move way up in the points race. Another car pushed down on me on the race track and spun me out. I really hate it for the guys on the Cingular Wireless team. They worked so hard this week and gave me a great race car. They were patient with me and made smart calls in the pits and we were headed for probably an eighth-place finish. That’s all gone now but hopefully we can pick up the momentum again at Las Vegas next week."