CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Gordon Ready for Montegi

TEAM GORDON READY FOR NEXT BIG TEST IN JAPAN AT FIRESTONE FIREHAWK 500 MOTEGI, Japan (April 2, 1999) - Forever there will be no place like Homestead for Robby Gordon, who got his first official taste of life as the CART FedEx Championship...

TEAM GORDON READY FOR NEXT BIG TEST IN JAPAN AT FIRESTONE FIREHAWK 500

MOTEGI, Japan (April 2, 1999) - Forever there will be no place like Homestead for Robby Gordon, who got his first official taste of life as the CART FedEx Championship Series' only owner/driver at the South Florida season opener.

But just as quickly as the weekend came and went for newly created Team Gordon - with a stellar team effort and no major dramas, thank you - the focus of attention switches to half a world away for the Firestone Firehawk 500 at Japan's ultra-state-of-the-art Twin Ring Motegi 1.5-mile oval.

"It was one of the proudest weekends of my entire life," said the 30-year-old Gordon of his new team's performance at Homestead.

"The guys certainly showed everyone what they're made of. This is a collection of some of the best racing people in the business, and the feat we pulled off in fielding a solid race car just a little over a week after making a chassis switch (from Swift to Reynard) was nothing short of stellar. That bodes incredibly well for our outlook this season. I can't wait to get to Motegi."

Gordon's 19th-place finish at Homestead after a run cut short by oil pressure problems wasn't exactly what the team had hoped for, even though the No. 22 Toyota-powered racing machine, sponsored by Menards, Johns Manville, Panasonic and Duracell, didn't get its initial shakedown until the Friday-morning practice session.

Nonetheless, the team comes to Japan with a handle on what it will take to run with the leaders during its first - and Gordon's first - visit to Motegi.

"From all indications, the pieces are in place for Team Gordon to mount a charge to the front of the pack," Gordon said. "We showed everyone at Homestead that we are for real. From there, we know it's essential that we keep pushing ahead and make significant progress every time we hit the track. Having top-notch racing people in our camp is one thing. But the best part about Homestead is that we showed we have that all-important chemistry to be effective as a unit. And these guys are tough as nails."

"We're a very confident and highly ambitious bunch, there's no mistaking that," added co-owner Mike Held, who with Gordon and John Menard began putting together the pieces of Team Gordon late last year. "The feeling is that if you're ambitious about your goals, you're way more likely to achieve great things. Of course, there's this thing called reality, which among other things teaches you that all great things take time. It's up to us to take control of reality and accelerate the process to the best of our ability."

The Firestone Firehawk 500 is set for Saturday afternoon (April 10), Japan time, with practice on Thursday (April 8) and qualifying on Friday (April 9). The 500-kilometer race will be broadcast live on ESPN early the morning of Saturday (April 10) beginning at midnight EDT. A tape-delayed re-broadcast is set for 5:30 p.m. EDT Sunday (April 11) on ESPN2.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon