Ford Racing drivers Robby Gordon and Marcos Ambrose held a joint press conference today at Robby Gordon Motorsports to formally announce their alliance for this weekend's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International. Gordon and ...
Ford Racing drivers Robby Gordon and Marcos Ambrose held a joint press conference today at Robby Gordon Motorsports to formally announce their alliance for this weekend's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International. Gordon and Ambrose will be teammates thanks to the suggestion of a race fan, who e-mailed Gordon with the idea earlier this week.
ROBBY GORDON - No. 7 Jim Beam Ford Fusion
Robby Gordon Motorsports is proud to announce Marcos Ambrose as my teammate. I've been looking for a teammate in Nextel Cup for a while and I'm looking forward to getting together. We were actually planning on getting together sometime Wednesday anyway. It's funny that we actually get together for a press conference on Wednesday because when I reached out to Marcos early Monday night, before any of these ideas even came up, I said, 'So does this mean we're not getting together on Wednesday?' And that's how the conversation started.
"The idea got broached to me by an e-mail from a fan. I called Camping World immediately after I talked to Marcos and they said, 'Yeah, we're in. We'd be proud to sponsor Marcos in a race.' We have two of these purpose-built road racers that were ready to go to the race track, and with the car of tomorrow, it's not hard to build another one, so the guys at Robby Gordon Motorsports burned some midnight oil last night and got another car ready so we'll have a back-up car to share between the two of us as well so we're going there fairly prepared.
"We wouldn't be able to do this without the support of his race team, and I think at the end of the day, we race cars for a living. I think sometimes everybody takes this a bit too seriously. We're having fun doing what we like to do and putting on a good show for the fans. Unfortunately, last weekend I took it over the edge and I appreciate Marcos accepting my offer to make it good for him and participate in a second car here at the Glen and give him an opportunity to go out and win the race."
MARCOS AMBROSE - No. 59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion
"We're all bitterly disappointed about last week. I'm sure if Robby could have wound the clock back, he would have done things differently. I was just so thrilled for me and my team in the Busch Series ran so great. It's a shame to end the race that way. We've been able to turn this thing around from a disappointment into something positive for my team and my sponsor, Kingsford, to be able to come into this Watkins Glen Cup race as a bonus. It's a real thrill for me. I appreciate Robby coming to me with this gesture. It's part apology and part compliment as far as I'm concerned. I think it's a big thing for him to ring me up on Monday and give me this opportunity and I'm looking forward to it. I hope we don't run one-two with five laps to go because it could get quite interesting.
"I feel like he's gonna give me the chance to have a good race car and it's gonna be a real challenge to just qualify the car in having never driven it before and it's the first time at the Cup level. It's just a real bonus for me and my team. After a really disappointing Saturday, we've been able to turn this thing around and turn it into a good news story. It's pretty exciting."
WHY DID YOU TAKE ROBBY'S PHONE CALL? A LOT OF GUYS INVOLVED IN OTHER INCIDENTS LATELY HAVEN'T BEEN DOING THAT.
MARCOS AMBROSE: "Well, I didn't know his number before he called (laughter). In all seriousness, I've been down this road before and I've been mad at drivers. Afterwards I've regretted saying things I shouldn't have said and regretted doing things I shouldn't have done, so I guess I'm not a rookie in that sense. I've been challenging for championships and race wins before and bad things have happened, and I'd like to think I've got an element of learning from the past is what got me to this position today. I didn't get on TV and blow up against Robby, even though I felt like I'd had a bit of miscarriage of justice on the race track, but I'm not gonna carry that across to Robby personally. I'm just gonna drive my car as fast as I can and just deal with it when I get out of the car. I would have taken Robby's phone call. I was probably only half-an-hour from giving him a call myself just to try and clear the air because I don't want baggage going into the following races. There's no good in that for me or for my sponsors or the fans, really. So it's great that he cleared the air and then three hours later he gave me a phone call back with a brainstorm idea and here we are."
WAS THERE ANY HESITATION WHEN HE CALLED WITH THE OFFER?
MARCOS AMBROSE: "Well, there were some issues to work out. Firstly, with the sponsor from the weekend - Kingsford, they had to be happy with it. Would my team allow it? We also have to consider the 21, which has to qualify in on time, so there was a balancing on what I was doing compared to potentially hurting the 21 and getting in the show. Those were things we had to work through, but I think we've got a great compromise. It's a real thrill for me and a real opportunity for me to get into the Cup level with no points worries, no owner points worries, and the championship is not even in the equation here. It's just about getting to the race track, having a good time and seeing if we can make the show."
IF YOU MAKE THE RACE AND THE 21 WAS LIKE THE FIRST ONE OUT, WOULD YOU HAVE TO STEP ASIDE?
MARCOS AMBROSE: "Let's not go there until something like that happens. It's not even worth thinking about really at this point. The 21 qualified great at Sonoma. It was in the top 10. If they repeat that performance on the road course this weekend, we're not gonna have to worry about it."
A FAN REALLY CAME UP WITH THIS IDEA?
ROBBY GORDON: "Truly, a fan did come up with the idea and, like Marcos said, it was more of a peace offering. It was like, 'Hey, do you want to run our car? We'll figure out how to make it happen.' It's not just Marcos. His team had to accept my apology or make-good offer as well because we're a small team here and we can't obviously pit the thing, so his pit team, that really suffered from the consequences last weekend, is gonna get an opportunity to move up and pit the car in Cup as well. His crew chief is gonna get to call the race on Sunday. His crew is gonna pit the car. It's a Robby Gordon Motorsports entry, but it's really a joint venture between the two of us. I'm just trying to give him an opportunity to go out there and have some fun, and I'm confident. I've seen him race for a long time. I've followed his V-8 Super Car career. Obviously I'm a fan and I've got a lot of respect for his driving ability."
DID YOU THINK THE OFFER WAS A JOKE AT FIRST?
MARCOS AMBROSE: "I actually sort of half thought about it. If NASCAR was going to give Robby an extended hold, I was gonna pick up the phone and see if he wanted a driver for it."
ROBBY GORDON: "I was gonna stick him in it."
MARCOS AMBROSE: "It's just worked out good. Great minds think a like, and I've got to thank the fan whoever wrote in to suggest it because it's a good idea."
DO YOU THINK NASCAR'S PENALTY WAS THEIR WAY OF ADMITTING THEY WERE WRONG BECAUSE THERE WERE NO POINTS AND IT WASN'T LIKE $100,000 OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
ROBBY GORDON: "I don't think NASCAR is ever gonna admit doing wrong things. It's a judgment call. There are a lot of ways to look at this. I think there's a hole here in the rulebook that they need to take a look at and I've voiced my concerns with both Joe (Balash) and with John Darby about the yellow flag situation. I was pretty confident that he didn't turn me on purpose because as soon as I made the pass, I looked up out of the corner of my eye and I saw the yellow flag. I was like, 'Oh man, did I get it done before the yellow or after the yellow?' The first thing I thought of was, 'lift, slow down to a cautious speed,' and then all of a sudden I'm going backwards. From that point on, the rest of the day was set from the stage that happened right there that was a judgment call. Unfortunately, I got put in a position to do things that I probably wouldn't do next time around and wouldn't do what I did. But I had mental emotions at the time. 'OK, if I'm going to appeal this thing, how are you gonna appeal it if you don't win the race?' That's basically what I went through at the time and, obviously, looking back at it that was the wrong thing to do. As far as running Marcos in a car as well, I had to consult with my sponsors to make sure they were cool with it because we're running Verizon Wireless in the Busch car and we're gonna run Jim Beam in the Nextel Cup car this weekend with the 7 car, and this is a good opportunity for us to pull into Victory Lane with our first Nextel Cup win as an owner and a driver. When I approached it with Jim Beam they're like, 'Man, that shows true character that you're willing to put him in a car and go to one of your current sponsors with Camping World and say, hey, are you guys up for this?' And Marcus from Camping World too, he was great. He's like, 'I think that's a great idea. I'm in. Count me in.' I've got to be honest, on Monday night I didn't sleep all night long. It's like, 'Alright, we've got to make sure that we can get engines. We've got to make sure that the Wood Brothers are gonna be cool with it.' I went through all the scenarios all night long on Monday because I was actually kind of excited about giving him an opportunity to go out here and perform and compete against the best racers in America."
WHAT ABOUT THE PROBATION CLAUSE ABOUT ACTIONS DETRIMENTAL TO STOCK CAR RACING?
ROBBY GORDON: "I've obviously seen some of the e-mails that have come and things like, 'Oh, Robby put people at risk.' Well, I can tell you that at no point at anytime did I ever lose control of the car, except for when I was spun out. I'm sorry to say that, but all the rest of the time I had perfect control of my race car. I'm a professional at driving these race cars and I have control of my car all the time, so it wasn't a risk thing. It was such a huge disappointment. I'm sure his team is looking at the same thing because we hear it from the media everyday. 'How does a single-car team compete? The day of the single car teams competing against the super teams isn't gonna happen.' Well, when you look in the Busch Series, the super teams actually win the Busch races too. With Kevin Harvick winning the race, both of our teams were in a position to beat that big super team. Ray Evernham had cars in the race. Jack Roush had cars in the race. We can compete and we can compete at the level against the best teams out there. Now, because we've only got one car doing it and not four cars, it's harder for us to get our team into Victory Lane, but it is possible to do so. I think maybe this weekend if I don't get the opportunity to, I hope that Marcos will get the opportunity to put our car in Victory Lane."
HOW CLOSE ARE YOU TO BECOMING A TWO-CAR TEAM?
ROBBY GORDON: "When you pulled in the driveway you probably saw that we are expanding our building. We're in a position now where a lot of our policies and procedures are in place. Everybody says, 'What do you mean by policies and procedures?' I'm talking about just the basics. When you go to hire an employee, now we can hand an employee a book and say, 'Here, this is what your job is gonna be. This is what your job is gonna be. Here's how you do it here at Robby Gordon Motorsports.' And having something like that allows us to grow. For the last two-and-a-half years, we've been just building our books, building our policies and building our procedures. I've got to be honest, if I would have brought on another car, that would have put me in the hole longer because we wouldn't have had our I's dotted and T's crossed. I think we're organized as a race team now to be able to run a Busch car and a Cup car on the same weekends. This weekend is gonna push us. As a team it's gonna push us, but, like I said, I went to my sponsors and they were good with it because they felt it was the right thing to do."
Continued in part 2