Fuel Mileage Mishap Foils California Kid's Charge Despite Finish, Single-Car Organization Defies Odds, Stands Strong in Points FONTANA, Calif., February 27, 2006 -- Sunday's performance in the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway could be summed...
Fuel Mileage Mishap Foils California Kid's Charge
Despite Finish, Single-Car Organization Defies Odds, Stands Strong in Points
FONTANA, Calif., February 27, 2006 -- Sunday's performance in the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway could be summed up in two words for Robby Gordon and the Jim Beam Chevrolet -- fuel mileage.
Struggling with rear gear problems during Saturday's practice at the two-mile oval, crew chief Greg Erwin and the No. 7 team were not able to attain an accurate fuel mileage reading with only 10 laps of practice in race trim before the 250-lap event.
As the green flag fell over the 43-car field, Gordon's Monte Carlo SS charged past the competition climbing as high as 13th before the first round of green flag pit stops on lap 78, but the one-lap miscalculation on fuel ultimately relegated the team to its 26th-place finish.
"I crossed the start/finish line at lap 79 and was heading to pit road the next time by when it started to bobble and the fuel-pressure gauge started to fluctuate," said the Jim Beam driver. "Between losing fuel pickup on that lap and then stalling it when we got to pit road before the guys could push us off caused us to lose so much track position."
"We had a top-10 car and one that could easily keep up, but with the guys out front in clean air running such fast laps, the loss of track position ultimately put us two laps down," Gordon said. "Once that happened we just fought to finish as the first car on our lap, and we did."
Despite the poor finish, Gordon and his team are in an impressive position as the bright lights of Vegas loom on the horizon. As driver and owner of a dying breed in NASCAR's elite division -- a single-car organization --- Gordon stands solid in 17th-place in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series points, well within the goals the team established for itself at the beginning of the season.
"I know we're only two races into a long season, but we've now had two cars that were well prepared and capable of running at the front in two different types of races (Daytona and California)," he said. "If the guys in the shop and the guys on pit road keep doing what they've done for the first two races, we'll be able to run with some of the bigger teams, and that was our goal coming in."
"The Wood Brothers' car and ours are the only one-car teams in the top 25 (in points), and I'm very confident that we'll be able to stay there," Gordon said. "It's not about how many cars you field that determines where you'll finish, it's how well prepared each of those cars are, and I believe we're as well prepared as most."
After a week's hiatus and NASCAR Busch Series competition south of the border, Robby Gordon and the No. 7 team return to racing action debuting the Harrah's colors for the first time this season at the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 on March 12. Gordon currently sits 146 points outside the coveted top-spot in 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup points.