Sonoma, California. (June 20, 2000) Â With a new chassis in tow and a few road course tests under his belt, Robby Gordon is heading to Sears Point Raceway with a sense of optimism and what he calls, "this team's best chance of winning this...
Sonoma, California. (June 20, 2000) With a new chassis in tow and a few road course tests under his belt, Robby Gordon is heading to Sears Point Raceway with a sense of optimism and what he calls, "this team's best chance of winning this season." It would be hard to argue Robby's point, he's a road racer who's had success on Winston Cup's twisty tracks and he brings with him a crew very familiar with Sears Point.
"Am I excited about this weekend's race? Yes. Are we going to win? Hmmmm. It takes an awful lot to win at any track in Winston Cup these days," said Gordon, who in 1998 led the Sears Point event before falling out late in the race with a suspension failure. "Realistically, we have a chance here to win, but even more realistic than that, I'll stop short and give the conservative answer here, which is; we have the best shot all season here to have our best result. How's that for a vanilla answer?!
"What I can say is that we have done our homework for Sears and will be arriving as prepared as we can be for this race. We tested for three days, did a lot of work to make the car better both at the track and at the shop between test days and we ended testing on a high note. Beyond that we'll just have to see where we stack up when the cars hit the timing light. There are a lot of good road racers in this series and I know there are a few ringers coming in like they always do to spell the guys without experience. I'm looking forward to getting out there and hopefully having a good weekend, that's our goal these days - good weekend, good experience."
Team Gordon crew chief Jerry Baxter won 1998's NASCAR Truck event with driver Boris Said on the 1.96-mile road course and sat on the front row at Watkins Glen for last season's Winston Cup event, also with Said driving. Baxter, while not a huge fan of the road courses, knows a bit about setting up a stock car for something other than left-hand turns.
"My only complaint about a road course is that you can't see what's going on out there from the pits," laughed Baxter. "Racing is racing to me, I enjoy it all. Actually, I've become more of a road course fan since I've had success on them in the past with Boris (Said). He's helped me understand what a driver needs to be fast at these places. This weekend I feel good about where we stand, we had three days of testing our car and Robby gave us great feedback. The biggest thing for us was to get Robby comfortable and on the same page with what we know about this car and this type of driving. I knew he could drive a road course, it was just a matter of making changes that helped his style. In the end, the changes we made that would have suited Boris also worked well Robby."
Both of Gordon's cars for the weekend are purpose-built road course chassis. On the outside their appearance is the same as that of a typical Cup car, but on the inside the design allows for more adjustment to compensate for a road course's many turns, bumps and shifting of weight. In general, it's a much stiffer car than one that would be taken to an oval.
"I didn't do any back-to-back testing of road course cars, so all I can look back on is what I drove in 1998 and it would be hard to really say how different the car is," added Gordon. "I have no complaints though, it was flawless in testing and felt great. We had an issue with the brakes getting hot the first day, but with modifications we dropped about 400 degrees of heat from the calipers and kept it off on long runs. The key to this race is going to be qualifying as close to the front as possible, making good pit stops and then taking care of the equipment. Running a road course takes its toll on these cars with all the shifting, heavy braking and bumps."
One note for Team Gordon this weekend; as part of a season-long rotation for the team's sponsors, CD-2 Engine Treatment will be featured on the hood of their neon-orange, Menards/Turtle Wax/Duracell Ford Taurus. The CD-2 line of product specializes in oil, gasoline, transmission & power steering additives. As a second year sponsor of Team Gordon and a division of Turtle Wax, CD-2 stakes their claim as an engine treatment unbeaten by competitors for engine metal wear, engine bearing protection and cold weather start-up protection. For more information on Turtle Wax and CD-2 products, visit their website, www.turtlewax.com.