Robby Gordon Battles Back at the Bullpen to Finish 26th BRISTOL, Tenn., March 27, 2006 -- Following 500 fast and furious rounds at the most famous short track on the NASCAR circuit and a 26th-place finish for the No. 7 Menards/Energizer team,...
Robby Gordon Battles Back at the Bullpen to Finish 26th
BRISTOL, Tenn., March 27, 2006 -- Following 500 fast and furious rounds at the most famous short track on the NASCAR circuit and a 26th-place finish for the No. 7 Menards/Energizer team, Robby Gordon decided he wasn't quite yet finished with his driving duties. After signing autographs for a steady stream of fans along the way to the parking lot at Bristol Motor Speedway, he took the keys to Kingsport, Tenn. resident Stewart Taylor's car and successfully saved his sedan from a mire of muddy gravel to the cheers of dozens of fans.
Off-road adventures aside, for Gordon it was an ironic culmination of hard day's work attempting to keep the fenders of a car intact despite his surrounding circumstances.
Earlier in the day at the legendary oval, he was able to do just that until late in the race.
"My crew gave me another fast race car," Gordon said. "But when a couple of cars started shuffling around in front of me near the end, my car was so fast I had to get on the brakes and got into the back of Denny Hamlin and the rest is history. We got a hole in the radiator and knocked the front fender off our car."
Beforehand, Gordon was able to keep the No. 7 Chevy considerably free and clear of damage and take advantage of several long green flag runs to charge through the field.
"The car turned really good in the corner," Gordon said. "Within 100 laps I moved from our starting spot of 37th all the way up to 12th-place and was on my way to the top-10 when the caution came out. Some of the leaders came to pit road, and NASCAR said that I crossed the pit road commitment line when I ducked in and back out on track, so I went on and brought the car down pit road for tires and fuel. I guess they didn't like what I had to say about the call, because they held me for a lap on pit road."
Returning to the track one lap down, Gordon quickly maneuvered from 37th past several competitors and was the beneficiary of the lucky dog, four fresh tires and fuel on lap 162 during the sixth of 18 caution flag's canvassing the race. Restarting near the back of the pack (33rd), Gordon aptly avoided a multi-car collision in turn four atop the banking.
Following a 15-minute red flag delay to clean up the debris, Gordon again picked off more than half the field before a stop for tires and fuel on lap 340. Blocked in by the No. 29 of Kevin Harvick on pit road, the No. 7 Menards/Energizer Chevy went from 13th to a frustrating 22nd-place in a matter of seconds.
Turning towards the track, Gordon again flew past six cars on the bottom posting two-tenths faster lap times than the leader with 100 laps to go. After two additional trips to pit road for fresh tires and fuel to go the distance, Gordon finally ran out of luck when a mid-pack shuffle led to contact with the No. 11 of Denny Hamlin breaking a bleed line off the top of the radiator.
Forced to make a lengthy and unexpected pit stop to mend the damage and cap the radiator, Gordon raced back to the high banks attempting to catch up to the field but was assessed his second commitment line penalty. Driving down the length of pit road on the backstretch, the No. 7 Menards/Energizer team lost three laps in addition to the driver's penance.
Returning to a tense game of catch-up, Gordon managed to salvage another respectable finish before the final wave of the checkered flag.
"It was a decent run for a pretty rough day at Bristol and another 26th-place finish for our team," Gordon said. "We easily had a top-10 car. We recovered time and again from pit lane calls and problems on pit road and still came up with a decent finish. We're still on track with fast race cars and great sponsors. And we're going to continue to work hard and get the best results we can from each race."
Heading into another action packed, fender scrubbing race this weekend in 20th-place in NASCAR Nextel Cup standings, Gordon can finally breath a sigh of relief taking his focus from qualifying to the task at hand -- setting up the No. 7 Menards Chevy for a win.
"We're going to Martinsville inside the top-20, and that's finally a huge advantage for our team," Gordon said. "We won't have to worry as much about qualifying and can work on race setup the whole time. I'm pretty confident we'll have a good run there."
Although the final run down of several races this season hasn't been a true reflection of his team's competitive achievements, this owner/driver feels the team's first trip to victory lane is right around the corner.
"I've had extremely fast race cars this year," Gordon said. "We're hooked up, and we're going to have a good season. If we didn't have bad luck, we'd have no luck at all. We just have to keep plugging at it and put ourselves in a position to win races and in the race for the chase."