INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — 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, N.C., site of NASCAR's Winston Cup Coca-Cola 600, which will be run May 25, the same day as the IRL race at Indianapolis.
Back later this week 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 230.205 mph.
He was behind Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan and two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves.
Gordon posted his time early and thought it would be fast enough to last for the pole. When it wasn't, Gordon considered withdrawing his entry and trying again in a backup car. There was one problem — the backup was being shipped to Colorado Springs for testing by another driver.
Gordon's first lap was 228.829, considerably slower than the rest of his run, and that was enough to cost him the pole — and a $100,000 check.
"He just kept getting better and better," team owner Michael Andretti said. "It's a shame he missed that first lap, because I think he would be a solid pole."
Questioning Indy's run Gordon was disappointed with third and questioned Indy's unique four-lap, 10-mile qualifying run on the historic 21/2-mile oval.
"The day is diluted. It's too long," he said. "You need to go out, line up your cars and qualify. With those guys being able to work on their cars, they were able to come out and beat me. I went when it was my turn to go."
He's hoping this year is his turn to win the 500. Gordon has five top-10 finishes in eight career starts at Indy. He led laps 171-198 in 1999 before running out of fuel on lap 199, allowing Kenny Brack to win.
Gordon, 13th in this year's Winston Cup points standings, plans a few more practice runs in his No. 27 Dallara-Honda before the Memorial Day weekend race.
"I'll run 100, 125 miles, then put the car away," he said. "It's my race car. You can't really take a chance of hurting it."