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1999 500--what could've gotten Robby Gordon to the finish

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  • 1999 500--what could've gotten Robby Gordon to the finish

    Just watched it again. On a day when 30-32 laps was the standard fuel window, and 34-36 was an extreme stretch with work and luck, Gordon extracted 37.8 laps out if a tank, with 4 laps of caution. Of course he needed 39. It's even more incredible since it seems that Gordon and the Menard team did practically nothing to save fuel in that last run to the finish. He led the entire way, often pulling out 4+ sec. leads. He consistently posted the fastest or second fastest lap times of all cars on the track. He careened his way through traffic (brilliantly) instead of using tows anywhere.

    I wonder if, had his crew used any strategy other than trying to dubiously keep him blissfully ignorant, if he could've made it. Turned the fuel setting down, let other cars lead, etc. Robby had doubts the whole time, and the team kept telling him not to worry. Not good.
    I live my life 4.048 miles at a time.

  • #2
    Nothing.That is why he did not win.

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    • #3
      I guess he could have used an auxiliary fuel tank, like the nitro tanks some used back in the day.
      Have a very blessed day!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by dalz View Post
        Just watched it again. On a day when 30-32 laps was the standard fuel window, and 34-36 was an extreme stretch with work and luck, Gordon extracted 37.8 laps out if a tank, with 4 laps of caution. Of course he needed 39. It's even more incredible since it seems that Gordon and the Menard team did practically nothing to save fuel in that last run to the finish. He led the entire way, often pulling out 4+ sec. leads. He consistently posted the fastest or second fastest lap times of all cars on the track. He careened his way through traffic (brilliantly) instead of using tows anywhere.

        I wonder if, had his crew used any strategy other than trying to dubiously keep him blissfully ignorant, if he could've made it. Turned the fuel setting down, let other cars lead, etc. Robby had doubts the whole time, and the team kept telling him not to worry. Not good.
        He needed more caution laps. 37.8 laps with 4 of caution is 35.8 laps. 39 laps is 35.8 laps if you have 7 laps of caution (32 green plus 3.5 green equivalent = 35.5).

        I think the team did not have him do anything to save fuel because they knew that he could only win with yellows. Yes, he was "close" by lap count, but extracting 2.5-mile laps at speed isn't exactly close.

        I'd speculate the team figured that, to save the fuel to make it, Robby would have had to have gone so slowly that he could not have maintained the lead. Then, had the yellow come out late, he would not have been leading. Whereas if he pushed it and had the lead, and the yellows hit right, it's his. He could have saved a little more fuel and still led, but it would have been immaterial. To need even one fewer caution lap would have been costly to speed.

        And not being in the points race with that car, and only four cars being on the lead lap, there was really no reason to compare "optimal finishes" and try to be third instead of fourth (or worse if he ran out at a less convenient part of the track).

        We have seen something like this at Indy in years since, where cars don't top off on the last lap of yellow. Topping off might be the difference to actually making it to the end. But the strategy is to be the first car in line when the late yellow hits. Topping off requires the race staying green long enough that only you make it, but you going fast enough under green that you actually (1) overtake the cars when they pit and (2) keep them behind you after they pit. You can see these are competing forces—hard to pull off. Not topping off means you won't make it without yellow, but you can actually be in a position with a non-zero chance of winning, which is great if you had a zero chance of winning on pace. Of course, the use of "show reds" (rather than finishing under yellow) has made all types of fuel strategies totally pointless, and I hate that with all my heart. Alas, the point is that it can be a better strategy to know you can't make it without luck than to try to stretch it if your objective is winning, rather than optimizing your finishing position, and many teams with more modern software have made that kind of call over the years.

        Also, I am not sure the narrative that they did nothing to save fuel was exactly true, which is the assumption behind the post and my first thoughts. Bräck was eating into the lead for a few laps.
        Scott Speed was third fastest in FP2 at the 2007 French Grand Prix.

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        • #5
          All of this makes you even more impressed about what Rossi pulled off in 2016 guided by Bryan Herta

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          • #6
            A downpour.
            Live like Dave

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            • #7
              Originally posted by KevMcNJ View Post
              A downpour.
              Happened right after the checkered, 1 caution would have gave Robby the victory for sure
              "Paff has been closer to the mark than anyone will give him credit for."

              Richard Kimble 11/18/2010

              "Paff is far more right than any of you will EVER give him credit for.

              As non politically correct and un IndyCar friendly as it is, it's the truth. "

              SeeuInMay 12/29/2010

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              • #8
                He needed more yellow laps. Which during that era was not too much to ask. There were more engine/mechanical failures during that period. After Gordon pitted, they went back to green and four laps later it’s yellow again. One more caution after that and it probably works.

                I don’t think Gordon could have done much in saving. Brack was charging and was less than 2 seconds behind at the critical time. Had RG been saving, he would have lost the lead anyway.
                Doctorindy.com

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Chris Paff View Post

                  Happened right after the checkered (rain), 1 caution would have gave Robby the victory for sure
                  Thanks to all for the input. Yeah, it clouded up quickly. All those final stops happened in blazing sunshine, and the finish was under heavy overcast.

                  He may not have needed the strategy that played out if he would've came in with everyone else during the final brief caution. Although he was near the tail of the pack, he could've gotten a splash of fuel and been one of the first cars out. Even if he wasn't, it sure looked like he had a very good chance to race his way to a win. I don't know if anyone was his match in pure speed after Arie and Greg Ray dropped out.
                  I live my life 4.048 miles at a time.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    With the cars evenly matched, track position was most likely very important. I've often wondered if they were counting on another caution-which didn't come.
                    "For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children's future, and we are all mortal".

                    John Kennedy at American University 1963

                    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power"

                    A. Lincoln

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dalz View Post

                      Thanks to all for the input. Yeah, it clouded up quickly. All those final stops happened in blazing sunshine, and the finish was under heavy overcast.

                      He may not have needed the strategy that played out if he would've came in with everyone else during the final brief caution. Although he was near the tail of the pack, he could've gotten a splash of fuel and been one of the first cars out. Even if he wasn't, it sure looked like he had a very good chance to race his way to a win. I don't know if anyone was his match in pure speed after Arie and Greg Ray dropped out.
                      Actually Kenny Brack and Jeff Ward were the two fastest cars after Luyendyk & Ray retired. Gordon was among another group of cars behind those two - I think Cheever, Dismore, and maybe Billy Boat were in that mix too; but none of that group was catching Brack or Ward.

                      Gordon gambled to get track position ahead of all of those guys and almost pulled it off.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Shadow101 View Post

                        Actually Kenny Brack and Jeff Ward were the two fastest cars after Luyendyk & Ray retired. Gordon was among another group of cars behind those two - I think Cheever, Dismore, and maybe Billy Boat were in that mix too; but none of that group was catching Brack or Ward.

                        Gordon gambled to get track position ahead of all of those guys and almost pulled it off.
                        Agreed with this.. Cheever blew an engine and Dismore crashed off T2 before the final laps
                        "Paff has been closer to the mark than anyone will give him credit for."

                        Richard Kimble 11/18/2010

                        "Paff is far more right than any of you will EVER give him credit for.

                        As non politically correct and un IndyCar friendly as it is, it's the truth. "

                        SeeuInMay 12/29/2010

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by KevMcNJ View Post
                          A downpour.
                          was that the year the famous weatherman said there was no shot the race would get run that day?
                          RHR: "I'm a proud American boy right now!" -2014 Indy 500 Victory Lane
                          Ricky Stanzi: "There is nothing better than being an American! This is the greatest feeling, if you don't love it, leave it. USA #1!"
                          Ricky Bobby: "We're just a bunch of big, hairy, American winning machines!"

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by RHR Fan Always View Post

                            was that the year the famous weatherman said there was no shot the race would get run that day?
                            No, that was 1998
                            "Paff has been closer to the mark than anyone will give him credit for."

                            Richard Kimble 11/18/2010

                            "Paff is far more right than any of you will EVER give him credit for.

                            As non politically correct and un IndyCar friendly as it is, it's the truth. "

                            SeeuInMay 12/29/2010

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RHR Fan Always View Post

                              was that the year the famous weatherman said there was no shot the race would get run that day?
                              Others here say no. I dont remember.

                              I'm just saying a gullywasher that made them go red/checkers with a handful to go would have been his best bet.

                              Not suggesting it was in the works.
                              Live like Dave

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