Daytona 500: Robby Gordon race report

Charlotte, N.C. (February 15, 2010) -- The 52nd Running of the Daytona 500 marked the debut of the No. 7 Monster Energy Camry in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. With Robby Gordon behind the wheel, it appeared as though the Monster Energy team was ...

Charlotte, N.C. (February 15, 2010) -- The 52nd Running of the Daytona 500 marked the debut of the No. 7 Monster Energy Camry in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. With Robby Gordon behind the wheel, it appeared as though the Monster Energy team was poised for a great finish in Sunday's Daytona 500. The team was among the fastest cars in practice sessions throughout Speedweeks, and they knew the Monster Energy Camry was capable of a great finish in Sunday's race.

When the green flag fell to start the Daytona 500, Gordon immediately began charging through the field in his No. 7 Monster Energy Camry. By the time the first caution came out on Lap 7, Gordon had already raced his way up to the 17th position. Gordon's Camry was handling perfectly throughout the opening laps, so when he came down pit road during the first caution the crew simply serviced the car with four fresh tires and fuel.

Gordon was happy with the Monster Energy Camry and called into the crew to say, "It does drive a lot better today than it did on Thursday." For most of the first half of the event, Gordon was able to pick whichever lane looked fast and move with the pack toward the front of the field.

Gordon waited longer than most of the front runners to make his first pit stop under green. In doing so, he lost valuable time to the leaders, but he was also able to gain five bonus points. Gordon passed Joey Logano when entering the pits on Lap 51 and was scored as the official lap leader.

When Gordon left pit road after his stop, the cars he pitted with were spaced too far apart and the Monster Energy Camry struggled to return to the lead pack. Gordon caught up with a few other drivers just behind the lead draft, and they were able to form their own pack to avoid losing too much time to the leaders until the caution came back out.

When the third caution came out on Lap 77, the No. 7 Monster Energy Camry was holding its own racing in the top 20. During the next run, most of the field began complaining about a loose handling condition around the 2.5-mile tri-oval and Gordon was no exception.

Real havoc ensued around Daytona International Speedway when a pothole opened up in the lower groove of the racetrack between Turns 1 and 2. With just 78 laps left in the 2010 Daytona 500, NASCAR displayed the red flag while crews worked to repair the track. After an hour and forty minutes, drivers were given the command to once again fire the engines. Gordon brought the Monster Energy Camry back down pit road for a chassis adjustment to help tighten the entry.

After just 38 laps, the red flag was once again displayed for the same pothole which reopened. The second red flag period lasted approximately 45 minutes and guaranteed that the Daytona 500 would finish at night, which meant many crews had to make major changes to alter the handling of their racecars. The Monster Energy team made another chassis adjustment to Gordon's car and sent Gordon back on to the track.

When the race was restarted on Lap 168, Gordon raced his way back through the field to once again return to the top 20. Going into the second, and what turned out to be the final, attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, it appeared that Gordon was going to have a strong finish in the Daytona 500. He had avoided all of the on-track incidents and was solidly racing inside the top-15.

Unfortunately when the No. 24 got loose in Turn 3, the No. 7 Monster Energy Camry had nowhere to go. Since it was the final lap and near the back of the pack, NASCAR did not call a caution for the incident. As a result of the last lap accident, Gordon finished the Daytona 500 in the 28th position.

"I am obviously disappointed with our finish today," said Gordon. "I was so excited to make the 2010 debut with Monster Energy on the hood of our car, and I really wanted to bring home a great finish for them. My guys put a lot of hard work, time and effort into building us a brand new Camry for the Daytona 500, and I'm really upset that we're bringing it home damaged. Our car was capable of a much better finish than 28th. I really believe that I could have raced the Monster Energy Camry into the top 15 before we reached the stripe, but instead we got caught up in an accident. We didn't do anything wrong; we just got caught up in someone else's wreck. Unfortunately that happens at Daytona."

Next weekend, NASCAR will make its 2010 season debut on the West Coast, as the stars and cars of the Sprint Cup Series travel to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

-source: rgm

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Robby Gordon