Darlington II: Robby Gordon preview

NOTES: * This week's No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet at Darlington is Chassis No. 103. It has been entered in five other NASCAR Cup events so far this year, including California Speedway in May when Gordon finished 12th after...


* This week's No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet at Darlington is Chassis No. 103. It has been entered in five other NASCAR Cup events so far this year, including California Speedway in May when Gordon finished 12th after running out of gas on the last lap. The car also was run at New Hampshire in September (started 22nd, finished 32nd), Chicago in July (started 23rd, finished 17th), Michigan in June (started fifth, finished 33rd), and Charlotte in May (started 20, finished 20th).

* It's a girl! ... Team Cingular crew chief Chris Andrews is now the proud father of a baby girl. He and his wife welcomed their little girl into the world Monday evening. Andrews stayed home last weekend to be with his expectant wife. He will be back to racing this weekend at Darlington.

* Back to Baja ... For the second weekend in a row, Gordon left a NASCAR track and returned to the desert in Baja California, Mexico , to continue his preparations for the 2004 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 which will take place November 17 -- 21. Gordon will compete in the No. 31 Red Bull Trophy Truck. Last month, he drew to start eighth in the legendary race. He plans to run the majority of the race, but will have to hand over the wheel to Steve Barlow, so he can head to Homestead, Fla., to compete in the final NASCAR Cup and Busch races of the season. Gordon competed in the 2003 Baja 1000, but fell short on his quest for a third Baja 1000 victory when mechanical problems forced him to drop out of the competition. The 35-year-old racer is a legend in Baja after several SCORE championships and successful runs in the Baja 1000. He won the race in a solo drive in 1989 and in 1987 as a co-driver with his father Bob Gordon. In addition to his 1989 and 1987 wins in the Baja 1000, Gordon scored a third-place finish in the 2002 Baja 1000, a fifth-place finish in the 1999 race and nearly won the grueling race in a late charge in 1997 before finishing in the runner-up spot. Additionally, he won four of the seven events in the 1996 SCORE Trophy Truck Series en route to the series championship, including a third-place finish in the Baja 1000. Gordon also won five consecutive SCORE/HDRA Heavy Metal Off-Road championships between 1986 and 1990. To learn more about the 37th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, go to www.score-international.com.

* Cingular Chevy's new look ... This weekend the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet will continue to carry the new paint scheme that symbolizes Cingular's new status as the nation's biggest wireless carrier. Cingular now serves more than 46 million customers with the largest digital voice and data network in the United States. The special paint scheme will remain on the No. 31 Chevy for next weekend's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but is not the car's new look for 2005.

* Check it out ... The Mountain Dew Southern 500 NASCAR Cup race is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. EST Sunday, Nov. 14, and will broadcast LIVE on NBC, MRN and XM Radio. Qualifying for the Mountain Dew Southern 500 is scheduled to start at 3:10 p.m. EST Friday, Nov. 12, and will broadcast LIVE on SPEED, MRN and XM Radio.

R. Gordon on racing at Darlington Raceway:

"We had our best finish of the season at Darlington earlier this year. Well, I guess I should say so far this year that has been our best finish. It was a result of a solid car and an amazing pit-stop performance by the Team Cingular crew. I know I gained a lot of track position that day because of the over-the-wall guys. We gained four positions on pit road more than once that day.

"The funny thing is that weekend was a lot like other weekends we've had this year, where we have a mediocre qualifying effort and a tough two days of practice then come green-flag time, we nail it. The only difference between that weekend and all of the other similar weekends this year is we actually didn't run into trouble at the end of the race and actually got to finish where we ran the majority of the race.

"I'm not making excuses, but anyone can go back and watch some of the races this year, like Indy, where we've had some absolutely terrible luck. We've been running well and then we just fall off, or like this past weekend at Phoenix we fell out. The deal in Phoenix was tough because we were running so well and up till this past weekend, the last time I had a DNF was Rockingham in February. Once again, we had to walk away with a big ol' goose egg.

"The deal about Darlington is you have to be good to your tires. You have to finesse the track and drive a little more reservedly than a lot of other tracks. I also have to keep reminding myself to be patient. Patience is definitely a virtue when we visit the 'Lady in Black.' I do know the longer we ran in March, the better we got. So, the long runs were kind to us. We are going to be running 100 miles more this weekend than we did in the spring and that is always rough. It's tough enough to complete 400 miles, so 500 will definitely wear you down, but you can't let up one second. If you do, you are done."


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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Robby Gordon