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NASCAR Winston Cup Pepsi 400 Race Report -- #40 Robby Gordon

8 July 1997

 #40 Robby Gordon, Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo       
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 Pepsi 400 Race Report
 Daytona International Speedway


DAYTONA BEACH, FL - Coors Light driver Robby Gordon nearly dodged all
the bullets during Saturday's running of the Pepsi 400 at Daytona
International Speedway - except the one that just glanced off of him.
That was all it took to take a sure top-10 finish away from the driver
who had muscled the Coors Light No. 40 Team SABCO Chevrolet to as high
as 6th during the 160-lap event.
During Friday's first-round qualifying, Gordon earned the 26th
starting position. In the race he was able to drive to as high as 6th
early on due in-part to fast pit stops and some key drafting help
(drafting help eluded the rookie driver during the season-opening
Daytona 500 on the same 2.5-mile high-banked superspeedway).
With just five laps remaining, Gordon, who was fluctuating between the
8th and 15th swapping position after position in a tight draft, was
sideswiped by a spinning Ricky Rudd. Rudd went to the wall after being
tagged from behind by Michael Waltrip. Television replays showed the
Coors Light Chevrolet escaping virtually unscathed and narrowly
missing the pileup. But Rudd's car evidently inflicted a double jolt
to the No. 40 car: A caved in passenger-side body panel and flat tire.

It looked as though the race would end under caution. Gordon, locked
in at his position, was to stay out and finish the race with the flat
tire, even at the slow pace-lap speed. But NASCAR clean-up crews had
the track clear enough to create a one-lap shootout to green-flag the
race on lap 159. As the signal was given for one more (pace lap) to
go, Gordon headed for the pits for the new rubber. For the restart, he
had to start in the rear of the field at the tail end of the lead lap
(24th position). As the field screamed through the high banks for the
one-lap dash, mayhem broke loose up near the front as Mark Martin,
Dick Trickle and Ward Burton began a chain-reaction wreck that
collected at least eight cars. Going to the rear of the lead lap may
have been a blessing as Gordon was able to gain three positions and
completely avoid the mess, finishing 22nd.

"We really had a great car for a lot of the race," Gordon said. "The
Fords were strong and it took a lot of drafting help and great moves
by other Chevy drivers to finish up front. A top-10 was there for us
today. I saw it happening until I got caught up in that deal with
Rudd. Mike Hillman and the guys really gave me a good car and
lightning-fast pit stops. They deserve credit too because they worked
so hard all weekend long in this heat. On one of those pit stops I got
blocked in by another car and had to back up in order to get myself
out. That cost us a bunch of track position and we'd have earned a lot
of spots on that one. But we'll go get 'em next weekend for sure."

By Team SABCO Public Relations