Sunday, July 31, 2011

CUP: Robby Gordon Gets First Brickyard Last-Place Finish, Falls From Top 35

Robby Gordon picked up the 10th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s 18th Annual Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when his #7 SPEED Energy Dodge fell out with engine problems after 5 of the race’s 160 laps.

Gordon, an owner-driver still fighting to make it through another Sprint Cup season, came into Sunday’s race in the coveted 35th spot in Owner Points, just 7 markers ahead of 36th-ranked TRG Motorsports, which fields rookie Andy Lally’s #71. Coming into the weekend, it appeared that Gordon, a ten-time starter of the Indianapolis 500, would have the advantage in padding this lead over the rookie. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

Scott Wimmer, who has helped keep Gordon’s #7 in Top 35 contention, was unable to qualify the team’s backup #77 on Saturday, joining a list of four other DNQs that included the #55 Front Row Motorsports team that came home 43rd at New Hampshire. Gordon, 41st on the grid at a speed of 177.866 mph, was destined to run a short race on Sunday. Five laps into the race, Gordon pulled behind the wall.

It was the eighth time his #7 was forced to “start-and-park” in 2011 and the first time this season that it has resulted in a last-place finish (joining part-time teammate P.J. Jones’ finish at Sonoma in the #77).

As a result of the finish, Gordon’s team has fallen outside the Top 35 and now stands 10 points behind Lally’s #71, which came home on the lead lap in 26th. Gordon must now attempt to qualify on speed this Saturday at Pocono, where co-driver Scott Wimmer parked his Dodge 51 laps into the June race.

Paul Menard went on to score his first Sprint Cup victory in a stunning upset. In 167 series starts since 2003, Menard has just one last-place finish: an engine failure 22 laps into the 2007 Aaron’s 499 at Talladega. At the time, Menard was driving Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated’s #15 Chevrolet in his rookie season, a year in which he qualified for 30 of the season’s 36 races. The Wisconsin native has never finished last in his 174 combined Nationwide and Truck Series starts.

*Gordon and the #7’s most recent last-place finish in Cup came last year at the spring race at Atlanta, where his #7 Warner Music Nashville / Blake Shelton Toyota lost a tire and crashed after three laps of the 2010 Kobalt Tools 500.
*This was Gordon’s first-ever last-place finish at Indianapolis - including his 10 open-wheel starts at the fabled Brickyard.

43) #7-Robby Gordon / 5 laps / engine
42) #50-T.J. Bell / 10 laps / brakes
41) #23-Terry Labonte / 15 laps / transmission
40) #60-Mike Skinner / 16 laps / electrical
39) #37-Scott Speed / 19 laps / rear gear

Current 2011 LASTCAR Cup Championship leader Michael McDowell turned in the 12th-fastest speed in Friday’s second practice session and timed in 35th for Sunday’s race. Still without sponsorship, however, McDowell also exited the race early and came home 37th.
1st) Michael McDowell (5)
2nd) Joe Nemechek, Mike Skinner (3)
3rd) Kevin Conway, J.J. Yeley (2)
4th) Landon Cassill, Robby Gordon, Jeff Green, P.J. Jones, Scott Riggs (1)

1st) #66-HP Racing LLC (5)
2nd) #60-Germain Racing (4)
3rd) #87-NEMCO Motorsports (3)
4th) #46-Whitney Motorsports, #97-NEMCO Motorsports (2)
5th) #7-Robby Gordon Motorsports, #55-Front Row Motorsports, #81-Whitney Motorsports, #77-Robby Gordon Motorsports (1)

1st) Toyota (14)
2nd) Chevrolet (3)
3rd) Dodge (2)
4th) Ford (1)

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