Las Vegas is known for gambling, and that is what the No. 7 Jim Beam team did with its setup for Sunday's 285-lap race -- gamble. After tuning on the No. 7 Toyota during both practice sessions on Saturday, the car still was not suitable to driver...
Las Vegas is known for gambling, and that is what the No. 7 Jim Beam team did with its setup for Sunday's 285-lap race -- gamble. After tuning on the No. 7 Toyota during both practice sessions on Saturday, the car still was not suitable to driver Robby Gordon's liking. The team knew that they needed to make drastic changes to the race car before the green flag fell. However, this decision was risky as both practice sessions had expired. Since the team was in Las Vegas, they decided to roll the dice and completely change the setup with no additional practice laps left to evaluate the car. Luckily, the decision paid off as the team finished 15th at the 1.5 D-shaped oval -- the team's best finish thus far in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Gordon took the green flag from the 32nd-position. At the beginning of the race, the car was loose. After a series of early cautions, Kirk Almquist decided to call the No. 7 Jim Beam Toyota to pit lane for a chassis adjustment aimed to tighten the car's handling. After the stop, the car went from loose to extremely tight. Due to the team's decision to pit during the caution, Gordon was able to stay on the race track longer than the leaders when they started to pit around Lap 51. Eventually, he picked up five bonus points for leading Lap 57 before coming to pit road to continue the adjustments on the No. 7.
Throughout the race, the team attempted to correct the tight condition, but nothing that they did really ever fixed the problem entirely. The team eventually lost a lap to the leaders, but kept trying to get themselves in a position to get the Lucky Dog. On Lap 138, the No. 7 team finally earned the free pass and was scored on the lead lap. This set the tone for the rest of the day. Despite not being able to find the handling of the No. 7, the team continued. This persistence paid off with a 15th-place finish when the checkered flag fell on the 285-lap event.
"I am very happy with today's result, especially after not knowing how the No. 7 Jim Beam Toyota would run today. We couldn't find a setup on Saturday that I could drive comfortably, so we decided to go back the drawing board. Late Saturday afternoon, we decided to basically change everything on the No. 7. Honestly, we changed about everything except the chassis and the driver, a pretty risky move considering there was no additional practice sessions. We figured that we were in Vegas so why not take a chance. Luckily, everything worked in our favor and we finished the race in 15th-place and on the lead lap, which is great considering how competitive the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series really is. I am excited to go to Atlanta this weekend. I think that the No. 7 Jim Beam Toyota team will have another good finish there as well," commented Robby Gordon.
The Sprint Cup Series will travel to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 8.