The 16th-place finish was the best posted by Robby Gordon's No. 7 Harrah's Chevrolet this year but there was little reason for celebration. The team came to Sonoma with guarded optimism knowing that its racecars have been getting better and that...
The 16th-place finish was the best posted by Robby Gordon's No. 7 Harrah's Chevrolet this year but there was little reason for celebration. The team came to Sonoma with guarded optimism knowing that its racecars have been getting better and that Gordon excels on road courses.
On Friday, Gordon went out early in the qualifying session and laid down a conservative lap that was adequate for the fifth starting position. "We ran a lap that was much quicker in testing but being outside the top 35 in points we just had to get in safely," said Gordon.
Saturday's practice session confirmed what the team already knew. The car was fast. In the final practice session before the race Gordon and eventual race-winner Tony Stewart were head and shoulders above the remainder of the field -- bettering the next closest times by more than one-half second.
Shortly after the drop of the green flag in the Dodge/Save Mart 350 on Sunday, Gordon eased his Harrah's Chevrolet up to the third spot behind Jeff Gordon and Stewart and radioed in to his crew on lap 11 that he was "just cruising."
On lap 13, crew chief Greg Erwin suggested to Robby that it was time to start racing. Gordon turned up the wick and started to turn some impressive lap times. On lap 19, Erwin radioed back to Gordon that his lap times were three quarters of a second faster than the leaders. Gordon's response was that the "car is really good. I haven't spun the tires or anything. I've been nice to it."
A caution on lap 21 tightened up the field. After racing hard for several laps a frustrated Gordon called in that the transmission was stuck in third gear. Gordon limped around the track losing position after position, unable to shift out of third gear, and hoping for a caution.
Gordon lost a lap to the leaders but a lap 43 caution allowed the team to come in and fix the transmission.
Yet another yellow flag on lap 64 was the break the team needed to get the lucky dog pass and get back on the lead lap and back into the race. Re-starting a distant 36th, Gordon proceeded to put on a road racing clinic, moving up to 12th on the final lap. On the last corner of the race the No.7 Monte Carlo ran out of fuel and Gordon coasted home to a 16th-place finish.