Atlanta II: Robby Gordon preview

Pre-race Notes: * This Week's Race Car at Atlanta Motor Speedway is Chassis No. 103. It has been entered in five other NASCAR Cup events so far this year, including California Speedway in May when Gordon finished 12th after running out of gas...

Pre-race Notes:

* This Week's Race Car at Atlanta Motor Speedway is Chassis No. 103. It has been entered in five other NASCAR Cup events so far this year, including California Speedway in May when Gordon finished 12th after running out of gas on the last lap. The car also was run at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May (finished 20th), Michigan in June (finished 33rd), Chicago in July (finished 17th), and New Hampshire in September (finished 32nd).

* RCR and Gordon part ways in '05 ... It was announced Tuesday, Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and Robby Gordon will part ways at the conclusion of the 2004 season, with Gordon stepping up to the ranks of NASCAR Cup Series ownership in 2005. Gordon has earned three victories, eight top-five and 23 top-10 finishes in 114 races with RCR. He also won one of the Gatorade 125 qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway in 2003. The Southern California native has been with RCR since July 2001 when he was named interim driver for the No. 31 Chevrolet while Mike Skinner, the team's regular driver, recovered from injuries sustained in a crash at Chicagoland Speedway. Gordon was named the team's fulltime driver in September and in November at New Hampshire International Speedway, in just his 10th start with RCR, he claimed his first NASCAR Cup victory. Gordon is currently putting the pieces in place for his team in 2005 and hopes to make an announcement soon. An announcement on who will be the driver of the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet in 2005 will be made this Friday, Oct. 29, at 2 p.m. (Eastern) in the infield media center of Atlanta Motor Speedway.

* Andrews back to flying solo ... Team Cingular crew chief Chris Andrews will be back in charge of the No. 31 RCR team this weekend at Atlanta after sharing the leading ranks with co-crew chief Gil Martin the last couple of weeks. Martin came on board for both races at Lowe's Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway to work alongside Andrews and evaluate the team's performance. Andrews was named the crew chief of the No. 31 team toward the latter part of 2003, making this 2004 season his rookie year as a NASCAR Cup crew chief. Martin is now taking over the reigns of the No. 2 ACDelco Busch Series entry, replacing Butch Hylton. Martin will continue in that role with driver Clint Bowyer in 2005.

* Check it out ... The Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 NASCAR Cup race is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. EST Sunday, Oct. 31, and will broadcast LIVE on NBC, PRN and XM Radio. Qualifying for the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 is scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 29, and will broadcast LIVE on SPEED, PRN and XM Radio.

Team Cingular Quotes

R. Gordon on the Hendrick Motorsports tragedy:

"As racers we work hard 24 hours a day to make a living, but when a tragedy like this hits those in our sport that we know and respect, it makes all of our efforts seem meaningless. I knew and respected a number of the people involved, and it is hard to imagine what Rick and Linda must be going through at this time. It's almost cliche to talk about the entire NASCAR community in terms of family, but the people involved were people you saw every weekend and people that always had a kind word or a smile. It's tough when you think that a lot of those involved were so young, and even tougher when you think of how those left behind, specifically all of the employees at Hendrick Motorsports including Rick and Linda, will cope with this loss. All of us at Robby Gordon Motorsports share the pain felt throughout the community, and will never stop thinking of those lost or their friends and families who are still with us."

R. Gordon on racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway:

"The last time we raced at Atlanta, that weekend really helped pick up the morale of the Cingular Wireless racing team. We weren't having the best luck earlier in the season. When we got to Atlanta, things seemed to take a turn for the better. It was like we finally got the opportunity to give a glimpse of our capabilities as a race team. We not only posted our best finish (17th) at that point in the season but we also jumped up five spots in the standings after that race.

"The caution flags were scarce at Atlanta in March, and that forced a lot of teams to make green-flag stops, which resulted in many teams becoming at least one lap down, including us. After we fell one lap down, it was like the lucky dog position seemed to tease us, almost like it has done over the last few weeks. We would get so close to getting in position to get our lap back and then we would fall out of position. I guess you could say, since Kansas, I've been getting some pretty good practice at working my way back into the lucky dog position and returning to the lead lap. Sunday at Martinsville, I managed to work my way back to the lead lap and hold on to it, even after I had that late race spin with the No. 99.

"My pit crew was awesome at Martinsville, too. Those guys may've had me on pit road for more than 14 seconds one or two times, but the rest of our stops had to be less than that. That one stop we made was phenomenal and so crucial. I came down pit road not the first car one lap down, but by the time I left pit road I was the first car one lap down, gaining a total of three positions in the process. That really was a turning point in the race for us. The next yellow wasn't far behind and I was given permission to return to the lead lap and that is where we stayed. I had to fight traffic to hold on to that position, but those guys got me there. There is no question about that."

R. Gordon on not returning to RCR in '05:

"Driving for RCR has been an incredible honor and is an opportunity most drivers could only wish for. I've learned as much outside the car as I have in it with RCR, and Richard has taught me a great deal about the business of NASCAR. He's a man of his word and someone I will always respect immensely. But I think everyone knows what my long-term goals are, both as a driver and a car owner, and now is the time for me to start my future as an owner at NASCAR's highest level. If I can be half as successful as Richard has been, I'll be very happy. We have been putting the pieces in place for our own team for most of the past year, and although we don't have anything to announce yet for next season, we hope to make some announcements soon."

-rcr-

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