CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston Robby Gordon Preview

GORDON GOES FOR THE WHOLE ENCHILADA AT TEXACO GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON HOUSTON (Sept. 20, 1999) -- Standing on the podium after Sunday's Texaco Grand Prix of Houston, as it is at every stop on the CART FedEx Championship Series tour, is a goal for...

GORDON GOES FOR THE WHOLE ENCHILADA AT TEXACO GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON

HOUSTON (Sept. 20, 1999) -- Standing on the podium after Sunday's Texaco Grand Prix of Houston, as it is at every stop on the CART FedEx Championship Series tour, is a goal for eight-year veteran driver and first-year team owner Robby Gordon.

But this weekend, he's got another serious piece of business to take care of downtown -- find that same Mexican restaurant he stumbled upon at last year's inaugural event.

"I have no idea where it is or what it was called, but the best Mexican food I've ever had was that meal in Houston," the 30-year-old Gordon said, which is a lot coming from a native of Southern California, where authentic Mexican cuisine is as much a part of the culture as surfing and star gazing.

Seriously, though, Gordon's primary goal will be to bring home his #22 Johns Manville/Panasonic/Menards Toyota-powered Eagle at the front of the pack on the 1.527-mile downtown street course.

"The streets of Houston were tough last year, but for a first-year event, I thought it was a great success," Gordon said. "Like all downtown races we have on the schedule, attendance was incredible. I always get a good feeling from the street races. People are happy, there's a lot of action everywhere you look, and the racing is fun and demanding."

Among the many reasons Gordon and his first-year teammates are feeling optimistic is a strong showing here last year by then-Toyota teammate Max Papis, who netted a fifth-place finish. That, and the fact his troops now have 17 races under their collective belt with a handful of top-10 finishes, add to the confidence that the first, big breakthrough finish might be just around the corner.

"Houston is by far the tightest street course we run," Gordon said. "It's very narrow and all about torque. Every corner, it seems, is a 90-degree, stomp-on-the-brakes, then air-it-out-quickly type of corner. We have one straight on the back section, which is pretty fast. We get up to about 185 mph. But everything else is a series of short blasts and hard braking.

"Toyota had a great run there last year, and hopefully we can improve upon that this year."

Practice and qualifying for the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston begins Friday (Sept. 24) and continue Saturday (Sept. 25). Race time is 3 p.m. CDT with a live broadcast set for ABC-TV.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Max Papis