Tracy Gordon Runs As High As Second In NASCAR Showdown, Finishes Fourth Irwindale, Calif. (Oct. 21, 2006) - Tracy Gordon's 2006 racing season came to a close Saturday night with a story that echoed much of this year's NASCAR Grand National ...
Tracy Gordon Runs As High As Second In NASCAR Showdown, Finishes Fourth
Irwindale, Calif. (Oct. 21, 2006) - Tracy Gordon's 2006 racing season came to a close Saturday night with a story that echoed much of this year's NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series races. While not the fastest car in practice or qualifying, Gordon and the No. 33 Woodworks/Archer Corporation Ford team came together to have a car that raced for the win and finished in the top five, ending the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in fourth place.
The Showdown is an annual event that pits the top fifteen in Busch East drivers against the top fifteen drivers from the NASCAR Autozone West Series. Held at the half-mile Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway, the race boasts a half-million dollar purse and a live television broadcast on SpeedTV.
Gordon's weekend began with some struggles in Friday's practice sessions. The next step was a fifty-lap qualifying race rather than time trials. In that race, Gordon started on the pole but wound up sixth at the end.
"We weren't very good in the qualifying race so we have to make wholesale changes to the car," he said Saturday morning. "The guys are working hard and we banged our heads together half the night and all morning to figure out what we need to do to get our car better. We will work on it right up until we have to go through tech and then cross our fingers that it works because we don't have any more practice.
"The car's been extremely tight so we have to get the car to roll through the middle of the turns without being tight in the middle. We weren't rolling through the middle of the turn. I'm fairly confident that we know what the problem was so we'll hit it hard and get it right," Gordon continued.
Starting the 150-lap feature event from the twelfth position, the Woodworks car came alive after fifty laps were in the books. By the halfway mark of the event he was fifth and catching the leaders during a 43-lap green-flag run. On lap 90 he was fourth and catching the top three, and two laps later he was running side-by-side with the eventual race winner, Matt Kobyluck. When caution came out on lap 98, he was in second place.
That caution brought every car onto pit road for a scheduled ten-minute break for pit crews to replace tires, add fuel, and make adjustments. The Woodworks team elected not to tweak the suspension and just gassed the car and fired on a fresh set of tires.
Restarting on the outside of the front row, Gordon again had to deal with Kobyluck who moved up quickly to challenge for the lead. The two ran side-by-side for the top spot with West Series champion Eric Holmes and East Series driver Sean Caisse also joining the battle. Gordon fell to fourth and was in that position when caution came out on lap 127. For the next double-file restart, Gordon was behind second-place Holmes, who had no fourth gear. Slow on the restart, Holmes held up Gordon who fell to seventh. But in the final ten laps, Gordon raced back towards the front, avoiding a last-lap tangle among some of the leaders to get fourth.
"I kind of wish I was a little rougher on them when I got stuck on the outside, I wish I had tried to beat my way down to the inside," he said of the restart where he was stuck behind Holmes. "I think we could have won that thing. I was better than Matt, though I wasn't good enough to try going way down low on the track. We should have probably taken some wedge out during the break, I didn't think the new tires were going to tighten me up as much as they did."
The Woodworks Racing team put the wraps on an incredible season. The Showdown was a goal adopted after the season was under way and the team had already skipped three of the first four races. They stormed back to finish the season fifteenth in East Series points to earn the invitation to the Showdown.
"I'm proud to drive for these guys," Gordon said. "We had good support from The Woodworks and Archer Corporation, and Lennox came on to help us out as well. We had a good run this year and hopefully we can come back and run even more races."