Robby Gordon Motorsports announced today that it Robby Gordon will reunite with Ford and race Ford Fusions beginning in 2007. Gordon, along with Ford Racing Technology's Director, Dan Davis, made the announcement in the media center today at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
MARC WILLIAMS, ROBBY GORDON MOTORSPORTS WELCOME
"I'd like to thank everybody for coming, Marc Williams of Robby Gordon Motorsports and no introductions needed, but I'd like to take this chance to introduce Dan Davis of Ford Racing Technology and Robby Gordon, owner/driver for to No. 7."
ROBBY GORDON, ROBBY GORDON MOTORSPORTS
"Thanks for coming guys, I guess I'm going first. So, I'm really excited about the opportunity to reunite with Ford Motor Company. They helped me build my career in the early days they were one of the first opportunities I've ever had in racing. While I was at Ford, we had great relationships and had a lot of fun, obviously everybody in this room knows that at one point I ended up switching to a different manufacturer but I'm very excited about being back at Ford and getting back into our winning ways. When I was with Ford Motor Company back in the Roush days, and a lot of the Indy Car stuff, we produced a lot of victories especially in the GTO, TransAm, 24 hours Daytona, 12 hours Sebring off road races and we had great relationships there and we produced a lot of wins. Hopefully we can do the same with our Nextel Cup team. I think the last two years we've made big improvements with our team. Our car was on top of the board most of the practice sessions and I think that it's a sign of what's to come in the future."
DAN DAVIS, FORD RACING TECHNOLOGY DIRECTOR
"Cool Robby. First off, I want to say that I'm so pleased that this program came together. We've been working on this for a little bit. I want to give you a jacket to start with to welcome you."
ROBBY GORDON: "Good, it's gonna get cold again I guess starting tonight."
DAN DAVIS (Davis puts Ford Racing jacket on Gordon) "This jacket is kind of symbolic. In January every year when we start a new season, Ford does a custom jacket for all of our team owners and drivers and crew chiefs so Robby this is welcoming you back into our program. You started your career with Ford. I think you came to Dearborn [Michigan] and you were 19 or 20-years-old and now you're back where you belong, so it's really good. I want to start right away by saying there is a famous incident between Robby and Ford, a car kicking deal if I remember right, I think I might have been there actually. I think it might have been Valvoline on the side of this car along with the Ford and I just want to tell everyone here that that is behind us. That was a different Robby Gordon and that was a different Ford Motor Company. It's behind us, there are no hard feelings; we're done. Let's bury it and forget it. And I don't want to hear about it anymore."
ROBBY GORDON: "Thanks Dan."
DAN DAVIS: "To me it's a forgive and forget world so let's move on, okay. We're pleased you are with us. We've been working on this for a little bit. We got it put together which is really, really good news. I think Robby's got in my opinion, the top single-car effort out there in a world of multi car teams. It's really hard to compete effectively with a one-car team and you are doing the job. We're really looking forward to working with Robby as he expands his efforts. We want to help him make his program be more competitive and consistent and a force to win week in and week out. Robby's got a background of using technology. He understands the value of engineering, he understands the value of technical expertise and we've pledged to work with him to take some of Ford Motor Company's expertise and technology and put it into his race team. He knows how to use these tools, he's shown it in the past, he's got a passion for doing that sort of thing, he has a passion for making sure that the people that work on his car utilize these tools so I'm really, really excited about having Robby back. I think it's been a little bit too long, I just welcome him back to Ford, Robby, thanks so much."
ROBBY GORDON: "Well thanks Dan, and Dan hit on it there. The relationship with Ford is obviously to grow Robby Gordon Motorsports and I guess this will be one of those Bold Moves as your current campaign promotion that you're doing. I appreciate you guys having the faith with us. We will use their tools, their engineers, their support, their wind tunnel time, their 45 percent model and all of their engineering staff to help us improve our program. Obviously these are some of the tools that Hendrick and Everham are using today and we've been working on building our cars to this level. Right time is the right time to change manufactures, like we did, especially building all of our car of the future cars. We'll have a bit of a conversion rate turning some of the Chevrolets, or making new Fords, but we'll be able to use a lot of those tools to optimize it right from the get go. We're talking about what proper frame heights these frames need to be at and they are starting to run stuff for us today in their wind tunnels so that we can come back into 2007 with Ford at Daytona, it's not starting over again. We have already started building Ford Fusion race cars in our shop today. We've got a speedway car probably ¾ of the way done, two car of the future cars and a mile and a half car in the buyer department right now waiting on a few answers from some of things that we learn in the tunnel and the expertise that they have."
Q: HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT FOR YOU TO A BIG FISH IN A SMALLER POND COMPARED TO CHEVROLET'S ROSTER?
ROBBY GORDON: "Well we've had a relationship, for a long time. Even when I've been driving other manufacturer's vehicles, we've still had a relationship. Ford has obviously some good drivers. If you look at Carl Edwards today and Matt Kenseth, they've got their fleet of good drivers as well. Roush has more cars than most teams. There was an opportunity for us I think to a faster step to the top with Ford Motor Company. Chevrolet has obviously strong teams and Ford is going to need strong teams to compete against them and the other manufacturers competing in the sport today."
DAN DAVIS: "I guess the only thing that I would say that it isn't as much about quantity as it is about quality. It's about using some of the engineering expertise that is available now. It is very hard to do a good job in NASCAR because there isn't a lot of data that gets taken, we have to rely on drivers telling us what the cars are doing and that sort of thing, so any ability to use tools that improve technically your program, we need to take advantage of. Robby has shown a propensity to want to do that and draw on that and work on that really, really hard. This is not about numbers and that sort of thing, it's about who wants to do the kinds of programs that we want to do in the future."
Q: GOING WITH FORD, YOU DO A LOT OF OFF ROAD RACING AND HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH HUMMER. WAS THAT A FACTOR AT ALL?
ROBBY GORDON: "We have a relationship for Hummer for 2007. I will currently still race a Chevrolet off road car. We will see how things change in the future, but today those programs are already kind of in place and you're probably going to ask, 'How can you have those cars in place and drive a Ford,' probably no different than how Roger Penske drives a Honda in Indianapolis or a Porsche in the American Le Mans Series. We are growing Robby Gordon Motorsports and Ford is I guess excited to be with us and we're excited to have them as a partner with our business."
Q: WILL WE SEE TWO CARS FROM YOU IN NEXTEL CUP NEXT YEAR?
ROBBY GORDON: "Well right now today, we have started to break ground on our new facility and we're a bit out of space where we're at. I would like to be able to run two today, but I'll be honest, if a sponsor came, we'd have to figure out how to do it for about five months. We're talking about May/June the new facility to be open. Obviously if we found something and a proper driver and a team that Ford would be excited about, we would try to do it earlier. At worst case would be in 2008 to grow the program to two cars and we're also looking at some Busch cars for next year as well."
Q: YOU LEFT RCR TO DO YOUR OWN TEAM. IN THE TWO YEARS, ESPECIALLY THIS YEAR, IS THIS PROOF THAT YOU ARE DOING IT AND DAN, WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF TAKING ON A DRIVER/OWNER? (Gordon)
ROBBY GORDON: "I can start that and say that there was a guy named Alan Kulwicki that won a championship in a Ford Motor Company vehicle with the No. 7 on it and he was a driver owner. We talk about this and it's a team here in Nextel Cup and I've got a good group of guys that have been working very hard for a very long time to build our organization, that believe in our organization and that continue to work to be competitive. On the marketing side of things and the performance side of the vehicle we continue to grow every day. You may not see it in the media everyday us growing, but we do grow and make improvements."
DAN DAVIS: "I guess I would add to that is that to me it's about attitude, it's about approach, what you are trying to get done. Some owner/drivers feel that they have to do everything. The marketing, the engineering, Robby has shown me that he doesn't have to do everything. He lets his people do their jobs so that he's not controlling everything every single day, but he does knows what he wants and he works really hard at those things that are important to his team and we agree on the things that are important. To me, that is the most critical thing to me, that we agree on how to win, what's important and how to build a winning organization. And with that, it doesn't matter to me, owner/driver, whatever. What is more important is that the attitude is right."
Q: WHAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP WILL YOU HAVE WITH OTHER FORD TEAMS?
ROBBY GORDON: "Well we have received support from Chevrolet when we made the switch [before]. Nextel Cup is more competitive than the Busch series. We came Nextel Cup racing and we had a steep curve to catch up. I think that we're not caught up year, but we're better than we were. I would give ourselves a 15th place car is about where we are at and what we're working to build with Ford is how to get back winning again and how we get back in the top five consistently and how we get in the top 10s. The instant relationship obviously is the Roush-Yates engine program, which will be about what our DEI relationship is, maybe a little bit more right from the get go. Basically from DEI, the motors show up in a box and put them in the car and go racing. I know that Ford is wanting all of their teams to work together and build a stronger Ford platform out on the race track."
Q: ROBBY, COMMENT ON YOUR BUSINESS ABILILTY TO SURVIVE AS A DRIVER/OWNER IN NEXTEL CUP RACING.
ROBBY GORDON: "We are running this like a business. There are a lot of things out in the garage that we would like to have, but we don't have it in our budget to have it. Right now, we look at what's important for performance and go after those items first. We have done that for the last year and a half. We live by our budgets and I think that's the business side of our race team. We know the value of each person and what it takes to do each job. One thing that I will tell you that compared to probably every driver in the garage area, I may have forgotten a few, I know what it takes to do every job on those race cars and about what it should take to get that job done. I think that is the part that lets me be a good team owner, I understand what it takes to weld parts, build bodies, assemble, preparation, mileage parts, those things I've been fortunate enough to drive for some great race teams. And driving for these race teams, you learn a little piece about the business and why they are successful. We've tried to integrate those things into our race team to make us more reliable and more effective on the race track."
Q: ROBBY WAS THERE CONSIDERATION FOR RGM TO FORM AN ALLIANCE WITH RYR? DAN, HOW CONCERNED IS FORD ABOUT RYR SHRINKING?
DAN DAVIS: "We're always concerned when our top teams aren't doing as well as they could. There was some discussion with some sort of alliance with RGM and Robert Yates Racing organization and right now that's not working out, doesn't to say that it won't in the future. Robby is doing what he needs to do for his team and we support him 100 percent."
ROBBY GORDON: "We've been having discussions for months now, we did have long discussions with Yates today, and we're both racing Fords. I guess we got a closer parallel because we are both racing Fords. We are using their engines and we're excited about racing their engines. They've produced many wins with that combination of Roush and Yates in both cars and we're looking forward to some of that success as well."
-credit: ford racing