Originally created 05/16/04

Gordon struggles in opening to long day



RICHMOND, Va. - The race started for Robby Gordon 12 hours before the start of Saturday night's Chevy American Revolution 400 at the Richmond International Raceway.

Gordon had to sit through morning showers at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, knowing a delay in pole qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 threatened a precise timetable that included 400 laps of stock car racing 703 miles away later in the day.

After driving 249 laps Friday night in a NASCAR Busch Series race at Richmond, Gordon flew to Indianapolis to qualify his Chevrolet-powered Dallara for the Indianapolis 500, then he was back at Richmond in time for the 5:30 p.m. driver's meeting. If he had missed the mandatory meeting, he would have forfeited his sixth-place starting spot and started last.

Gordon will try for the third time to compete in two major races in the same day when he drives at Indianapolis in the afternoon on May 30, then at the Coca-Cola 600 at Concord, N.C., that night.

Indianapolis' unique qualifying process required Gordon to complete four time trial laps before 7 p.m. Once the rain left Indianapolis, Gordon posted a disappointing effort of 216.397 mph - well off his practice speeds.

"I'm already thinking about what we need to do for race setup," Gordon said. "I think we'll have a good car for the race and that's what's important."

TERRIBLE TONY: The past six races have not been good for Tony Stewart. He's been involved with run-ins and crashes in five of them and he was ordered to talk with NASCAR officials to explain his rough driving.

During Saturday night's pre-race show on FX, Stewart said the blame goes to the television commentators that work for FX and its parent company, FOX Sports.

"There's no hidden frustration," Stewart said. "I think the people that are blowing it out of proportion are Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip up in the (television) booth. Nobody else is complaining about it. I think it's funny. I keep watching replays of the race after I get home and listening to Darrell and Mike Joy and McReynolds, you keep watching the screen and waiting for Tattu to walk by in his little white tuxedo and say, 'Welcome to Fantasy Island.'"

Waltrip then told the fiery driver they were only telling fans what they've seen in the past six races. Stewart then took his criticism to a personal level.

"Darrell's memory kind of gets a little screwed up sometimes. I guess he forgets with all the rule changes he wants NASCAR to make, he forgets if they changed the rules and took the champion's provision away, he wouldn't have been able to race the last two years (of his career)," he said.