Newcomer Tina Gordon finishes tenth in ARCA at Talladega

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 24, 2001

?;? attention went to Bobby Gerhart in Victory Lane following Saturday's ARCA Re/Max Food World 300 in Talladega, but it was Alabama native Tina Gordon who shared the spotlight.

The race, which lasted two hours and four minutes and had six cautions in 27 of the laps, sustained average speeds of 144.955 miles per hour.

Hailing from Cedar Bluff, Ala., a mere one-hour drive from Talladega, Tina Gordon, who has only been racing on blacktop since 1998 when she began at Birmingham International Raceway (BIR), said after finishing tenth in a field of 41 that she was still just overwhelmed with the scene at Talladega.

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"Starting on asphalt at BIR in 98, and here I am you know a few years later racing at Talladega Superspeedway; this is great," Gordon said. "This is a very exciting time for the team and me right now. I can hardly describe the feeling. It's unbelievable to be here at this track and to be with such a good team, and to have such a good car under me; it's a dream come true. This is the best opportunity I have ever had in my racing career."

Driving the number 22 "Sticks N' Stuff Furniture" Ford, Gordon began the race in the fifth position, but after some problems with her engine flattening out a bit, fell back, losing the advantage of the draft effect.

"I tried to hang in there, and catch the draft, but just couldn't hold it," she said after the race.

Gordon said she received a lot of advice in the days leading up to the race from teammate Bob Strait.

"Bob n you surely could not ask for a better teammate. Yeah, I asked him a ton of questions n I'm sure his ear is a little bit sore from me being right there all weekend, but he has been great," Gordon said. " The team has been really wonderful."

Gordon drove the same car Strait brought through the checkered and Victory Lane in Talladega in 1999.

Bobby Gerhard, from Lebanon, Pa. started out on the pole, and after leading in 105 of the 113 laps in the ARCA series' longest race took his second career victory, and the second of two, both at superspeedways.

In 1999 Gerhard won at Daytona International Speedway, finishing again under caution.

Gordon's teammate, Strait finished second driving the number 66 "Midway Island" Ford tailed Gerhart until the very end, but said he just ran out of laps.

Jason Jarrett took the fire out of Strait's run, running out of gas and stopping on the apron of turn two.

"I was going to make one more run and back up Rick (Carelli, third place finish) a little bit and try to run on Gerhart and get a pretty good run with Rick, but then the caution came out," Strait said.

Gordon, who by finishing in the top ten in her first race at ARCA has done what many drivers have never done after racing 20 or more years, said she hopes this race will boost her team.

"Hopefully now we can get some more sponsorship, and put some more money into the program," she said.