Robby Gordon ...
Robby Gordon #22 Johns Manville/Panasonic/Menards Toyota-Reynard
FIRESTONE FIREHAWK 500 Round 2 of 20 in the CART FedEx Championship Series At Twin Ring Motegi - Motegi, Japan
In what can only be described as a "wild" finish for Team Gordon, Robby Gordon coasted home across the start/finish line with an eighth-place finish, stuck in first gear, in Saturday's Firestone Firehawk 500 at the Twin Ring Motegi Circuit in Motegi, Japan. Gordon's Johns Manville/Panasonic/ Menards Toyota-Reynard lost sixth gear on his second pit stop, lap 101, and was forced to run the rest of the race in fifth gear. Gordon had another fantastic start, moving from 14th to fourth on the race's first lap. He eventually moved to third, before encountering some bad luck on his first pit stop where he accidentally hit the kill switch instead of the fuel reset. Seconds were lost and Gordon moved down to 13th. Luck came into play late. After a routine stop on Lap 145, Gordon's telemetry showed the car would run out of fuel with three laps to go. Faced with a last[minute decision on Lap 194, Max Papis solved the dilemma with a spin, bringing out a yellow which allowed Gordon to pit for a splash of fuel. On exit of the pits, Gordon had trouble shifting up from second as he passed Christian Fittipaldi and blew all the gears in the gearbox, leaving only first gear to finish the race. When the green flag dropped, Gordon was forced to circle the track at only 100mph. Yet another yellow, on Lap 198, saved the day for Gordon, enabling himm to keep his track position and finish in the points in only the second race of Team Gordon's CART series existence.
ROBBY GORDON - "What a day! I'm sitting here elated to finish eighth, mad that I didn't finish third, and confused as to what actually happened. I lost the gearbox midway through the race, radioed to the guys that we were done, and then like magic I found fifth gear and ran it the rest of the day. Solid. We turned the rev limiter off, held onto our pants and the engine came through. Nobody pulled me out there. I had power all day long. The Toyota was definitely on it! On the last stop, I was in fourth place leaving the pits when I passed Christian -- I guess for third place. I shifted into second, trying to skip to third quickly because I had trouble with that gear all day, and the whole gearbox blew. Nothing. I radioed to the guys again - 'it's all over boys, the gearbox is dead.' But as I said that, Kenny (Anderson) told me to find a gear and stay out. So I did. It was first gear. Next thing I know, there's a yellow and we're cruising around to a points finish. It was a great job by everyone here at Team Gordon. Nobody quit today and I'm proud of that."
MIKE HELD (Co-Owner) - "What an incredible day! We had the guns to win and we definitely raced to win. Finishing the way we did with the gearbox stuck in first was simply gravy to a beautiful visit to Japan, and there is nothing sweeter than that."
KENNY ANDERSON (Race Engineer) - "This is the first time Toyota has fought for the win straight up, head to head. We ran strong with the leaders all day and we raced to win. There were problems. We stalled a few times in the pits, but the motor and Rob pulled us back each time. It feels great to be back in the game. Finishing eighth is a perfect cap to a great weekend of racing."