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Weekly Racing Journal

Race/Date: Checker Auto Parts 500/Nov. 2, 2003
(34th of 36 races)
Location: Phoenix International Raceway
Start Position: 31st
Finish Position: 32nd
Points Position: 16th

An ill-handling car started the race Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway for Robby Gordon and the No. 31 Cingular Wireless team, but brake failure ended up the main culprit of the team’s struggles and eventual finish outside the top 25. Still holding onto the 16th position in the NASCAR Winston Cup points battle, Gordon and his Cingular Wireless teammates continue to try to gain a few spots before the checkered flag falls at Homestead in two weeks.

Struggling with a finicky race car, the No. 31 Cingular Wireless team took advantage of the first caution to pit for right-side tires and fuel and to make air pressure adjustments. The quick stop, just under seven seconds, helped move the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet from 31st to 18th by the time racing was back to green on lap 44.

More than 100 laps later, Gordon was still running in the top 20 right behind Richard Childress Racing (RCR) teammate Kevin Harvick as the duo worked their way through lapped traffic and battled to gain track position.

Nearing lap 170, Gordon radioed crew chief Kevin Hamlin the No. 31 Chevy was losing rear brakes. By lap 205 of the 312-lap event, the Cingular Wireless Chevrolet was outside the top 25. The Cingular Wireless team pitted under caution on lap 213, making its fifth stop of the day to take four fresh tires and fuel, make chassis adjustments and tape up the brake ducts in an effort to alleviate the brake conditions. Gordon returned to the field in the 31st position.

By the time the seventh caution flag was displayed on lap 230, the brakes were shot on the No. 31 Chevrolet. The Cingular Wireless team decided it would work to replace the rear brake pads during the caution. Unfortunately, in the process of pitting two times under the same caution to replace the brake pads, Gordon went two laps down. The field was back to green on lap 238 with the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet in 34th place.

It was a tough day for Richard Childress Racing, as all three teams finished outside the top 25. Gordon finished 32nd with teammates Kevin Harvick and Steve Park, both with wrecked race cars, finishing 34th and 39th, respectively.

Gordon Quotes:
"We started this weekend with a tough day of qualifying, but by final practice Saturday, we had a good race car. Then, we come in here today and I don’t know what happened. The car was not handling well in the beginning and then the brakes failed. We fixed the brakes, but lost two laps in the process. The handling was off today and the brakes killed us. Not much more to say than that."