CHAMPCAR/CART: Detroit Team Gordon Preview

FORMER DETROIT WINNER ROBBY GORDON HOPES THE MAGIC RETURNS ON BELLE ISLE THIS WEEKEND DETROIT (Aug. 2, 1999) -- If there's an extra little bounce in Robby Gordon's step at this weekend's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, it's likely ...

FORMER DETROIT WINNER ROBBY GORDON HOPES THE MAGIC RETURNS ON BELLE ISLE THIS WEEKEND

DETROIT (Aug. 2, 1999) -- If there's an extra little bounce in Robby Gordon's step at this weekend's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, it's likely because the 30-year-old owner-driver returns to the scene of a past CART FedEx Championship Series victory.

"There's nothing like coming back to a race as a past winner -- except for being able to leave the track on Sunday as the current champion," said Gordon, who'll once again be piloting his familiar #22 Johns Manville/Panasonic/Menards Toyota-powered Champ Car.

Gordon enjoyed a three-year streak of success here on the scenic 2.345-mile temporary street circuit on Detroit's Belle Isle that culminated with a commanding victory from the pole while he was hired gun for Walker Racing in 1995. That followed up another podium finished -- third place -- in 1994, and another top-10 finish -- eighth -- in 1993.

"I've always liked this place," said Gordon, who also holds the distinction of being the only owner-driver on the competitive CART circuit after having formed Southern California-based Team Gordon in partnership with John Menard and Mike Held.

"It's definitely the best of Detroit -- a lush, tree-lined circuit in the middle of a beautiful park on an island in the middle of the Detroit River. It's a fairly narrow track, which makes it tough to pass as the race wears on. But it's a momentum track, and we had a stretch there where we had the place figured out pretty well."

Gordon and his Team Gordon crew have been working diligently in trying to get their Toyota/Swift/Firestone package dialed in for the challenge this weekend, and the closing stretch events this season. Two days of tests at Mid-Ohio last week proved to be remarkably productive as they hope to regain the momentum of points-producing finishes at Cleveland and Road America, as well as their run among the leaders until the final laps of the season's second race at Motegi.

"Yeah, we would have loved to have been on the podium already this year -- and we will. But let's be realistic. I think the guys are doing a great job under all the circumstances surrounding the fact this is a first-year effort in the most competitive open-wheel racing series in the world," Gordon said. "The key, as the season wears on, is to keep pushing ahead, to keep the spirit alive, to remember why we got into this to begin with."

Practice and qualifying for the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, Round 13 of 20 on this year's CART FedEx Championship Series, begins Friday (Aug. 6) and resumes Saturday (Aug. 7). The green flag falls Sunday (Aug. 8) at 3 p.m. EDT with a one-hour tape-delayed broadcast by ABC-TV set to begin at 4 p.m. EDT.

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Series IndyCar