Pit Strategy Played a Factor for Robby Gordon and the No. 7 Jim Beam Black Chevy's 9th-Place Finish CONCORD, N.C. (May 20, 2006) -- Starting 14th in the Nextel Open Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Robby Gordon's first two laps in...
Pit Strategy Played a Factor for Robby Gordon and the No. 7 Jim Beam Black Chevy's 9th-Place Finish
CONCORD, N.C. (May 20, 2006) -- Starting 14th in the Nextel Open Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Robby Gordon's first two laps in the No. 7 Jim Beam Black Chevrolet were among the most exciting of any laps run this season in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series competition.
In a 30-lap sprint race where only the winner transferred to the night's main event -- the Nextel All-Star Challenge -- patience was thrown out the door by all 29 team's that began the first 20-lap segment. Thanks to a race car that Gordon said was "perfect," he was able to make several breath-taking three-wide passes on the outside picking off seven cars in the first two laps before the first caution fell on lap three when Casey Mears made contact with the fourth-turn wall.
Believing that fuel mileage would play a factor at the end, and knowing that the hard Goodyear tires would not give up much, if any, in a short race, Crew Chief Greg Erwin and Gordon decided to pit during the first caution assuming they would cycle to the front of the field when everyone else stopped for fuel later in the race. Hoping for a long green-flag run, which would have required the other cars to pit for fuel, what the field got instead was nine of the first 20 laps run under caution, which allowed every car to make it to the end on fuel, thus effectively ending any chance for Gordon to transfer into the All-Star Challenge despite having a very fast race car.
"Track position was key in both our race and the All-Star Challenge," Gordon said. "We were able to pass pretty easily back in the pack, but I think it would have been very difficult to pass the leader on the race track in clean air, that's why we hoped to pass them on pit road.
"If the gamble had gone our way, we would have been a serious contender for the win," Gordon said. "When I was able to pass five cars on the first lap I knew we had a car as fast as anyone's in the field. Even though we didn't see the results that we wanted or hoped for, we're pretty confident heading into the Coca-Cola 600 next weekend. I like our chances."