Event: Daytona 500
Charlotte, NC (February 22, 2011) -- When the green flag dropped on the 53rd running of the "Great American Race," Robby Gordon and the No. 7 SPEED Energy Dodge Charger started in the 30th position. After only nine laps, Gordon had advanced to 9th place with his eye on the leaders. Gordon radioed to the crew, "The car is running good by itself and in the draft. Today is going to be a good day for our team and SPEED Energy."
On lap 22, the No. 29 of Kevin Harvick blew an engine causing Jeff Gordon to get into the left rear quarter panel of the SPEED Energy race car. Pitting on lap 24, the SPEED Energy crew got to work on the car pushing the bumper bar up and the quarter panel out to repair the damage. Gordon would bring the car back in for more service on lap 25, taking right side tires and fuel. The No. 7 restarted the race in the 41st position.
On lap 29, the yellow flag was waved for the fourth time after a chain reaction wreck that would collect nearly half the field. It was a big break for the No. 7 team; Gordon pitted for left side tires and to continue working on the damaged bumper bar.
By lap 73, the Daytona 500 had already seen 26 lead changes. Making his way to the front, Robby Gordon found himself fighting for the No. 1 position. On lap 96, the No. 7 car got a push from Trevor Bayne and took the lead. After pushing back to the front on lap 105 with the help of Bayne, Gordon goes on to lead what becomes a total of seven laps of the 2011 Daytona 500. When the caution came out on lap 108, Gordon would bring the field into the pits. Taking only right side tires and fuel, the No. 7 pit crew serviced the car and got their driver off pit road first. As the green flag drops on lap 109, Gordon was in front of the field with the throttle hammered down.
With the new track surface, having a dancing partner to draft with was a key factor in Sunday's race. For the next 60 laps the caution flag would fly five more times for a record breaking total of 16 cautions in the scheduled 500-mile event.
In the final thirty-five laps of the race Gordon would find himself consistently fighting for a spot in the top ten. When the sixteenth and final caution came out, the No. 7 SPEED Energy Dodge would get pushed by the No. 34 car driven by David Gilliland. Gordon was able to save it, but got shuffled back to the 15th position. Finishing the day under a green/white/checkered, Gordon went on to record a 16th place finish in the 2011 Daytona 500.
"Daytona was a very exciting race this year. We had a very fast Dodge Charger, and the Penske power was awesome. I was really bummed that we spun our dancing partner, Brad Keselowski, because the two of us were very fast together," commented Robby Gordon. "We knew that we needed to be there at the end to have a shot at the win. With two laps remaining, I felt that since we ran in the top 10 for most of the day that we would easily finish there, but it is Daytona and anything can happen. Unfortunately, we got moved out of line with only one to go. I honestly have no idea how I saved that one, but did and went on to finish 16th. It was a good finish for our team, but we could have easily finished better had we not got moved out of line. The team did a great job, and I'm really looking forward to Phoenix this weekend."