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Cingular Wireless Racing
Weekly Racing Journal

Race/Date: Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500/Oct. 27, 2003
(33rd of 36 races)
Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway
Start Position: 16th
Finish Position: 21st
Points Position: 16th

Spending an extra day in Atlanta, after rainy weather delayed the completion of Sunday’s Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500, many teams were left wondering if the stay would be worth their wait. Unfortunately, a bad set of tires that led to a flat tire late in Monday’s race washed away the No. 31 Cingular Wireless team and Robby Gordon’s strong run in the final laps of the event. When racing returned to green on lap 46, the wait seemed to be worth it for the No. 31 Cingular Wireless team and Robby Gordon, as they worked their way up to a top-10 run by lap 200, but poor grip forced the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet to fall just outside of the top 20 by the time the checkered flag waved under caution on lap 325.

When racing resumed Monday morning, many teams reported tight-handling conditions including the No. 31 Cingular Wireless team. But Gordon and crew seemed to overcome the handling problems and recovered from being one lap down by the time the seventh caution flag was displayed on lap 171. Less than 20 laps later, the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet Monte Carlo was running inside the top 15.

The Cingular Wireless crew’s fast pit stops played a key role in moving the No. 31 Chevy up through the field Monday. Their fifth stop on lap 202, during which they took four tires and fuel and made chassis and air pressure adjustments to loosen up the race car, the Cingular Wireless pit stop clocked in a little over 13.5 seconds and put Gordon back out on the track in ninth place. Then, the Cingular Wireless team, taking four tires and fuel, pulled another quick 13.9-second stop during the ninth caution of the race. Racing returned to green on lap 230 with Gordon in fourth place.

With less than 100 laps remaining, the Cingular Wireless team was running for a top-five finish. Then, like a twist of fate, on lap 258 Gordon reported his car had no grip, making the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet Monte Carlo slide all over the race track. Gordon began losing positions in the midst of his struggle, falling from fourth to 27th place by the time the team completed their seventh and final pit stop on lap 286. After the Cingular Wireless team’s final stop, Gordon was black flagged for speeding on pit road. As a result, the No. 31 Cingular Wireless driver had to return to pit lane before joining the rest of the field.

The Cingular Wireless team then discovered the left-rear tire had gone flat, concluding a bad set of tires was the culprit to the No. 31 Chevrolet’s poor grip condition. Gordon finished the 325-lap event one lap down in the 21st position right behind teammate Kevin Harvick.

Gordon Quotes:
"I feel like I am starting to sound like a broken record. Lately, it seems like every week we work through some type of handling problem, we find our groove and then we are dealt a major setback. This weekend it was a bad set of tires and some confusing officiating, but I guess that was all out of our control today. The one thing in our control that could not have been executed any better was the Cingular Wireless team’s pit stops. Those guys continue to amaze me every week. The pit stops got us in position today for a top five finish, but other things happened and our chance for a strong finish was gone just like that."