Race/Date: Brickyard 400/August 3, 2003
(21st of 36 races)
Location: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Start Position: 13th
Finish Position: Sixth
Points Position: 11th (from 12th last week)
A combination of great pit strategy and timely
cautions gave Robby Gordon and the No. 31 Cingular Wireless team
exactly what they needed to complete the Brickyard 400 with a sixth-place
finish Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, posting Gordon’s best
stock car finish at the historic track and moving him to just 25
points out of the top 10.
After qualifying 13th and running the fastest
in Happy Hour Saturday, Gordon knew the No. 31 Cingular Wireless
Chevrolet could help him get good track position and he was right.
Less than one lap into the race, Gordon moved up to eighth place.
Nearing lap 30, Gordon told his crew he thought
he had a flat right-rear tire after the No. 31 and No. 48 Chevrolets
made brief contact. It was not flat, but to avoid a blown tire the
team opted to pit early on lap 35, taking four tires, fuel and making
a slight track bar adjustment to loosen up the car. A problem with
the catch can prolonged the stop, returning Gordon to the field
a lap down in 25th place.
Gordon was not a lap down for long, as the second
caution of the day came out around lap 46, giving him the opportunity
he needed to get back on the lead lap, and for the No. 31 crew to
make a smart yellow-flag pit stop for gas only.
The No. 31 Chevy was running 17th by the time
the third caution was displayed. Having pitted earlier for fresh
tires around lap 85, the Cingular Wireless crew made another yellow-flag
pit stop for gas only and Gordon was back on track in second place
and took the lead when the field returned to green on lap 110.
By lap 137, the Cingular Wireless driver was
still in the top five, but old tires were challenging his control
of a very loose race car. Then, debris on the track brought out
a fourth and fortunate caution for the No. 31 Richard Childress
Racing (RCR) team, as they pitted for right-side tires and fuel,
completing the stop in less than 10 seconds.
Back to green with less than 10 laps to go, Gordon
was second with teammate Kevin Harvick in the lead. Struggling with
a tight race car, the Cingular Wireless driver fought to maintain
a top-10 position and to hold off the competition so Harvick could
extend his lead to claim his first Brickyard victory.
"It was a decent run for us all and all. I am very pleased
my teammate Kevin Harvick won and that we could bring another top-10
finish home for the Cingular Wireless team. I thought we were going
to be one and two there for a while, but the car just kept getting
tighter and tighter and didn’t want to turn. I’m a little disappointed,
but that’s the way things go around this place. For some reason
we don’t have the best luck. We got lapped earlier and we had to
fight back. I’m very pleased with all the guys, because it was great
strategies that got us back in great position. I’m a little disappointed
we didn’t win, because we came here to win, but that’s the way the
ball bounces sometimes."