ROBBY GORDON, NO. 7 JIM BEAM CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO Q. HOW IS TESTING GOING FOR YOU? I like the way they're doing this testing - the way you can all come down together - but they're going to have to figure something out for getting cars on the...
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 7 JIM BEAM CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
Q. HOW IS TESTING GOING FOR YOU?
I like the way they're doing this testing - the way you can all come down together - but they're going to have to figure something out for getting cars on the track. You sit in line for hours. the biggest thing I got done yesterday was my email. I'm all caught up now. I saw Greg Biffle out there on his cell phone and I thought tomorrow, I'm taking my Blackberry out there and getting some stuff done! (laughs) Seriously, it just doesn't seem like you could get as much done as an open test. Hopefully the other racetracks won't be like this one where everybody is looking for that 'one-lap-wonder'. This whole Daytona 150 is kind of a waste. I'm not excited about the way they're running the program down here. For Daytona, I finished 7th there last year and any other year you start Daytona 500 14th. What is it going to be, seven spots? You have to race for seven spots and qualify and everything else. I think Daytona should be the one race maybe that is on the old system: the fastest cars get in the race and that's just the way it is. The agony of defeat. There are other cars that aren't inside the top 35 that have great sponsors too; we've got some of the best sponsors in the business. You handicap yourself because you know you are better than some of the teams that are inside the top 35.
Q. SO HOW DID THE DAKAR RALLY GO?
Dakar went okay. We ran through stage one and stage two and we knew that was a full-blown WRC rally course. That's why Carlos Sainz did very well. We knew our H3 would come into play once we got into the desert of Africa and it did. We were very good on stage three - we came fifth - and we got lost for five minutes. Stage four we started fifth and we were the second car on the road at the time, leading by three or four minutes. About 100 kilometers (80 miles) from the end, the bolt that holds the drive flange on backed off - it's unfortunate because my team did a good job and we don't build the gearbox in-house, we get it from an outside source in Austrailia - and the bolt backed off and the whole drive flange itself that holds the CV joint fell out of the car. So we got it back together and got to the finish line. I think we finished like, 91st that day. Put us way back in the overall standings.
The next day we had a great run and finished 11th-- passed about 75 cars. It was a good stage for us. The next day was another good stage where we finished 7th. On stage eight which was the halfway point we came over a sand dune and struck the front bumper into a mound of sand. Broke the front bumper and it being a front-radiator vehicle, the bumper punctured the radiator. It's not like your standard Hummer where a Hummer H3 would have this kind of problem, this is a purpose-built race car. Some of the parts we had on there were made for easy access and changeability, like the bumper, and since we bolted it on and not welded it, it came off and made a hole in the radiator. Unfortunately I sat there and camped all night long and the next morning I got some JB Weld from a competitor and put some water in it. Got to the end of the stage and missed it by a half an hour. You don't have to finish the first stage on time; you can take what's called a maximum penalty for the day but you have to start every stage and we missed the start time by 30 minutes. So you're out of the race. The grid started with 300 cars and 40-something finished. It's a very, very difficult race. I wouldn't put it in the same class as a Daytona 500 or anything. It's like running 16 12 Hours of Sebrings back-to-back-to back and rebuilding the car every night to get ready for the next race. By far it's the most physically and mentally challenging race in the world.
Q. WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT YEAR?
First thing we'll do is some testing so we can know where our weaknesses lie. If our front bumper was welded on like in the production car it wouldn't have been a problem. I know it sounds like an easy fix and why didn't we do that earlier, and I'll tell you why. We used two different materials - we thought the front bumper would look nice with a shiny chrome/stainless finish. We bolted this front bumper on and sometimes the simple, pretty things bite you.
Q. SO BACK TO NASCAR, HOW ARE YOUR CARS?
I think we're fastest of the DEI-prepared programs. I don't know.
Q. DO THEY HELP YOU AT ALL?
We have DEI engines but we have our own program. We have our own aerodynamic programs; we have our own people. Pretty much our own team with DEI power. The engines are good; they gave us two engines that were very competitive to each other as far as horsepower. I don't believe they're going to be pole engines and they never said they would be either but they were something to give us to test so that when we learn something there was either a positive or a negative on each piece that we changed.