Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Transcript April 29, 2003 Robby Gordon Part 1 of 3 K. Johnson: We certainly welcome everyone to the Indy Racing teleconference for this week, Tuesday, April 29th. Today we will take a look toward the...
Indy Racing League
Weekly Teleconference Transcript
April 29, 2003
Part 1 of 3
K. Johnson: We certainly welcome everyone to the Indy Racing teleconference for this week, Tuesday, April 29th. Today we will take a look toward the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 with veteran Indianapolis 500 driver Robby Gordon. Gordon competes full time in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, but next month he will the drive No. 27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Andretti Green Racing in Indianapolis 500. He was named April 25th as a replacement driver for the injured Dario Franchitti. Robby has eight career Indianapolis 500 starts and has attempted the Indianapolis-Charlotte "double" three previous times, that being in 1997, 2000 and in last year's 2002 event. He will attempt to compete in the 500 as well as the Coca-Cola 600 Winston Cup event at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina, again this year. Last year, he finished eighth in the Indianapolis 500 and placed 16th in the Coca-Cola 600. His previous best Indianapolis 500 finish was a fourth-place effort back in 1999. Robby, good morning and welcome. Thanks for joining us today.
R. Gordon: Good morning, everybody. How are you today?
K. Johnson: Doing good. Drivers talk about wanting or sometimes not wanting to pull an Indianapolis-Charlotte 'double'. You are in the process of doing it for the fourth time over the last seven years. What is your thought process about all that?
R. Gordon: One, I am thankful because for a while here I did not think I was going to get a real strong effort. There were some opportunities to do it, but nothing with a team like a Michael Andretti, Barry Green or -- sorry, excuse me now. -- Kim Green, wrong team. So Andretti Green, they have a good history there at the Speedway. Paul Tracy almost won the race there last year for them, and I feel that Michael and those guys have given me a good opportunity to show up at the Speedway and be real competitive. Over the last few years, you know I have got, what, five top-10 finishes there now?
K. Johnson: Right.
R. Gordon: We have always been at the right place, and it has not been the right time for some reason. We have lead the race and run out of fuel in 1995, could have won the race and thought I had a flat tire, still finished fifth, but been through some disappointing finishes. One thing that I do understand is what it takes to be around at end to have a shot at winning the thing.
K. Johnson: Now you mentioned your success, five top-10 finishes in seven starts. You also mentioned being around at the end. Is there one item you can put your finger on that has kind of helped you get in that position?
R. Gordon: I think just starting at a young age, watching how Rick Mears has won that race before and the guy is always around at the finish and that was something that I did not learn the first year. And actually my two DNFs were not because of crashes, but because of blown engines. And you know, its unfortunate, but what I have learned is you have to be around at the finish to be able to race at the finish for the win. And I have seen Rick fall down a lot before, come back and win the race and work on his car all day long. So, I have tried to do that and got a good feel for the Speedway. I have always run good there and always qualify well there. I think with this effort we have a good shot at possibly winning the race, and that is what everybody goes to the '500' for is to win, and that is our goal.
K. Johnson: Now something that race fans and journalists alike tend to do as they get close to May is take all the various racing series' calendars, lay them side-by-side and see how they match up as far as the schedule is concerned. What kind of juggling do you have to do with your schedule to be able to get track time both at Indianapolis as well as Richmond or Charlotte or wherever you are running this month?
R. Gordon: Yes, it is funny you say that. That is actually two questions, and I have two answers for you on that one. One, for myself, the Indy 500 falls on good time with the Winston Cup schedule. Basically, now they have moved Richmond to a Saturday night race so I will not even miss Opening Day at the Speedway. We do not have a lot going on that week and the following weekend, Pole weekend is an 'off' weekend so I can stay in Indianapolis all week and test there and then qualify on the weekend. The following week is the Winston weekend, but those are all night events at Charlotte, so I can still participate, even during practice are night events. So I can participate during the day practice at the Speedway, fly over to Charlotte and participate in the night practices and not miss out or dilute either effort because of track time. The most important thing is going to be getting good night sleeps and being alert and as good physical shape as I can be possibly in. You also mentioned something else when you said race fans go off and look at how they can match their schedules and stuff like that. One thing we offered last year and we are going to do it again this year is offer a package out of Charlotte that allows a race fan to do the 'double' with us. We do corporate airplanes to chartered buses with police escorts, to tickets to both events to scanners and everything else. And last year I think there were 60, around 60 race fans joined us for the "double," and this year we are hoping to get that number around 200.
K. Johnson: You mentioned 'we'. Is this something that you and Richard Childress Racing have put together?
R. Gordon: It is actually something we do through -- I have a marketing group internally at Team Gordon, and it is something that we have done over the last couple of years, and it is already in place this year. I think we have 30 of them signed up as of today, and we have only put it on the site on Friday, so I am sure we will reach our number. But it is something unique for the race fans is to get to both races. And it is posted on our Web site to be able to do that so they could register and sign up.
Q: Hi Robby. Tony Stewart made it pretty clear that Joe Gibbs was not all that supportive about him trying to do the "double." What is the reaction with Richard Childress, the owner, and the rest of the team?
R. Gordon: Well, the last two years Richard has been part of my Indy 500 effort, not this year but in 2001 and 2002. Richard is a fan of open-wheel racing and does not have a problem with me doing both events.
Q: Robby, this is pretty hard effort on your part to do. What do you consider, even though you have done it four times, what do you consider the hardest part for you?
R. Gordon: I think the hardest part last year, I will be honest, I did get a cramp in my stomach. I did not expect to get a cramp under my left rib section in my stomach. And I am sure that was because of the g-force and dehydration. Last year, I did not take the IV between the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600. I felt so good after Indy and had that adrenaline running. I felt I was fine and I refused it. This year I will take that. But since I had those cramps in Charlotte, I have also gone on to rehydration, I guess like a salt solution drink that I drink before the race, and that helps keep water in my body, and I have not had cramps ever since I started doing that, as well. But I still will take the IV. Eleven-hundred miles is a long ways. I have done the Baja 1000 by myself many times. I do not ever have time for a two-hour break or three-hour break. So with the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 'double' I do have that break time and I think, I think if I am, one, in physically good enough shape when that time comes, and two, eating right, getting good sleep and take the IV, I do not foresee a problem doing the effort this year like I did last year.
Q: Do you feel it's more of a physical thing than a mental thing?
R. Gordon: Mentally, I was completely all there. Physically, like I said, I had cramps in my stomach.
Q: I am wondering, which is more important to you, doing the "double" and going for the double win or just making sure you are racing at Indy for the win and getting the win at Indy?
R. Gordon: Man that is a really, really tough question. You know, obviously we want to go for the win at Indy, at the same time we fell two positions in points last weekend to 16th in Winston Cup points. And I thought we would have a good run at Fontana and get ourselves up higher in the points, possibly into the top-10 before we did the "double". And we fell a couple of positions, so it is going to be important for us to perform real well at the Winston Cup race because of the championship points.
Q: Given your history at Indy it is almost ironic that your history and the history of the Andretti's are almost identical, just so close but not able to pull it off. Do you see the irony in that?
R. Gordon: Yes I do a bit. In one sentence, it is very nice to be driving for Michael because he understands like I understand how close -- he has been close many times to winning the race. I look at myself and say, 'God, if we had done this or done this the last couple years we could have probably won that race.' And for both of us to be teaming up with a team like Andretti Green now, since Michael is an owner in that organization, those guys know how to win that race, also. And I think they are going to help us, hopefully one of us win this race. And the most important thing is that at the end of the day one of our two cars come home in Victory Lane.
Q: And I was interested in your opening statement about being there at the end because I have heard over the last three weeks talking to three drivers that are going to be in the Indy 500 and it is interesting that they say, 'This is a 500 mile sprint', yet hearing you talk about it, it almost sounds like an endurance race, a marathon race, you just pace it and make sure that you are there for a sprint at the end.
R. Gordon: Well, what I do is I make sure the car is comfortable for most of the race. You can only hang on to a loose car for so long, and you need to know what those adjustments are to make the car very free and fast at the end. But there is no reason to be hanging on to a loose car 10 laps into the race, and I think that is where a lot of people go wrong, and that is something I have caught on to over the years, how to trim the car out for the end of the race and not so much for the beginning.
Q: Yes, look for that flag, right?
R. Gordon: For sure. What do they say, 'You must first finish to finish first?'