Confidence Runs High at Atlanta after Final Practice Sessions for Robby Gordon and No. 7 Harrah's Chevrolet ATLANTA, Ga., March 18, 2006 -- After the final NASCAR Nextel Cup Series practice session at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Robby Gordon and...
Confidence Runs High at Atlanta after Final Practice Sessions for Robby Gordon and No. 7 Harrah's Chevrolet
ATLANTA, Ga., March 18, 2006 -- After the final NASCAR Nextel Cup Series practice session at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Robby Gordon and the No. 7 Harrah's Chevrolet sat in fifth atop the board and the team's confidence is high for tomorrow's Golden Corral 500.
"We did probably some of the longest laps that we've ever done in practice," Gordon said. "I think that's the first time we've ever run 30 laps here which is a long ways. I feel pretty good about where we're at in general. The car posted a good lap, not only just on the short run, but I feel pretty good 20 laps in as well."
Crew Chief Greg Erwin was equally pleased with the outcome of today's final practice sessions.
"Happy hour today was probably one of the better practices we've ever had as an organization," Gordon said. "We were the 10th car out on the track to start practice which helped Robby get settled in a groove because he was with other good cars. We knew everyone we were around was on equal tires and that was probably the best long run that we've made in a long time in practice. We had a small concern with too much right front tire wear, so we made a couple of adjustments and went back out. After that, the car was even better on the second run than it was on the first. Robby is very comfortable with the No. 7 Harrah's Chevy, and we're looking forward to another repeat performance for Chassis 103. We're just hoping for another day with no mechanical issues."
Mechanical issues aside, a day without rain is an unlikely possibility with a forecast calling for a 60 percent chance of showers on Sunday.
"It's supposed to rain tomorrow so it will be interesting to see how that works out," Gordon said. "I'm sure the cool weather helps the tires on the long run, but we should be good here tomorrow as well. Atlanta has so many lines you can race on, and that's why I like racing here. You can go up high or stay down low and find your car's sweet spot, the spot on the track where the car has the balance that you want it to have."
"Depending on how hard it rains, it could wipe off whatever rubber the Busch cars put down tonight and that may change it a bit," Erwin said. "But if you race car is good, your car's good. You're not going to lose the handle on it because of the rain. The biggest problem would be if the clouds start coming towards the halfway mark then everyone will be jockeying for position. Some guys may stop short and stay out when the rain comes. The problem with that is when it goes green again, you've added one more extra stop, and then everyone that stopped during the rain caution has four tires and fuel and you're on the short end of the stick."
"As far as tomorrow goes, I don't suspect any surprises short of the weather," Erwin said. "That's going to be a question mark for everyone. But in his normal style, Robby will go hard from the very beginning of the race and as far as he can go in as little time as possible. He's not one for holding back."
Looking past Atlanta and next week's Bristol race, the deadline marking the final events that NASCAR will use 2005 car owner points to lock in the top-35, before switching to 2006 points for the same purpose, Gordon won't be holding anything back on Friday's as well.
"With qualifying every week, I have to be a little conservative," Gordon said. "If I get sideways coming off turn four on lap one, then it messes up both laps and we'll be in trouble. We'll be putting our car up on the hauler and heading back home to Charlotte. And that's not what Harrah's, Jim Beam, Menards and CarLoan.com signed up for. They signed up to be competitive and so far this year we've been competitive. Just one more week...I've got one more nail-biting Friday. And trust me, we'll stress out about it for four days leading into it. We'll leave Atlanta and that will be on the top of the agenda come Monday morning."
"A couple of more weeks with this car, and we'll run even harder," Gordon said. "Right now, we have no room for mistakes. It's going to be important to run good tomorrow and finish and score as many points as we can and climb the ladder. I think we fell to 17th after California and then we climbed back up to 14th after Vegas, and my goal is to position ourselves to get inside the top-10."
Gordon and team will take the green flag at tomorrow's 500-mile event in an already impressive position, 14th-place in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series points.