Wed, May 14, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Robby Gordon gets front-row position, then heads to race

AP , INDIANAPOLIS

Robby Gordon spent little time celebrating his position on the front row of the Indianapolis 500. After all, he had another race on another series to prepare for.

As soon as a picture of front-row starters was snapped Monday, Gordon was off again.

He left the Indy garages for Charlotte, North Carolina, site of NASCAR's Winston Cup Coca-Cola 600, which will be run May 25, the same day as the IRL race at Indianapolis. Time will be as tight as his racing suit, because he'll be back at Indy later this week for another practice run before returning to Charlotte.

"It's not that big of a deal," said Gordon, a full-time NASCAR driver. "It seems to all flow into place once you get the logistics figured out."

The planning seems to get easier every year, because double duty is becoming routine for Gordon. This is the third time he is preparing for racing's "Double."

In 2000, he tried to run both races, but rain delayed the start in Indy and Gordon didn't make it to Charlotte in time for the start. He replaced substitute P.J. Jones when he arrived, however, and finished 35th.

Last year, Gordon finished eighth at Indy despite a pit fire that put him behind early. He then flew to Charlotte and wound up 16th there.

The Indianapolis 500 is the only Indy Racing League event Gordon drives in, with the permission of Winston Cup car owner Richard Childress.

"We negotiated it into my agreement in the beginning and he's stuck to it the whole time," Gordon said.

Gordon, subbing for injured Dario Franchitti, already knows where he'll be for Indy -- on the outside of Row 1. He finished third Sunday in pole qualifying with a four-lap average of 370.479kph (230.205mph). He was behind Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan and two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves.

Gordon's first lap was 368.265 kph (228.829 mph).

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