CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana Robby Gordon Preview

GORDON CLOSES OUT HIS FIRST SEASON AS OWNER-DRIVER HOPING FOR A MEMORABLE RUN AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 25, 1999) -- Didn't it seem like just yesterday that Robby Gordon, at 30, became the only owner-driver on the 1999 CART ...

GORDON CLOSES OUT HIS FIRST SEASON AS OWNER-DRIVER HOPING FOR A MEMORABLE RUN AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY

FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 25, 1999) -- Didn't it seem like just yesterday that Robby Gordon, at 30, became the only owner-driver on the 1999 CART FedEx Championship Series with the formation of Team Gordon just down the road in Anaheim, Calif.?

Nineteen races and a lifetime of experience later, Gordon and his troops are down to one last shot a glory in their inaugural season together -- this weekend's Marlboro 500, presented by Toyota, on the 2-mile high-banked tri-oval at California Speedway.

Not surprisingly, after five solid days of testing here in the last month, they hope to put an exclamation point on what's been an eventful building year -- featuring six top-10 finishes -- for their #22 Johns Manville/Panasonic/Menards Champ Car program.

"Plainly and simply, when we've tested, we've run well," said Gordon, who finishes his eighth season on the CART circuit here this weekend. "It helps so much to have a good setup already in the car when you roll off the truck for a race."

After racing his Swift chassis to an eighth-place finish at Surfers Paradise in Australia two weekends ago, Gordon is back at the controls of the Eagle that he raced to 10th place on the 1-mile oval at Chicago in its mid-August debut with Team Gordon.

"In our final day of testing at Fontana, we ran a best lap of 232.5 (mph) and consistently ran in the low 232s without a draft," Gordon said. "But I don't want to get too excited because anything can happen between now and the day we qualify." In hopes of putting on the best possible show for the folks here at home, Team Gordon collaborated with the fellow Southern California-based Toyota team owned by legendary Dan Gurney, as well as with a highly focused Toyota Research & Development (TRD) engineering staff, in stepping up their preparation for the season finale. The results were satisfying, to say the least.

"The reason we switched to one of Dan Gurney's Eagle chassis is because we felt it was a good oval car," said Gordon, who finished eighth here two years ago driving for Carl Hogan, and ninth last year here for the Arciero-Wells Toyota team.

"The Eagle cuts the air very well, with little drag. To have the testing times we did in conjunction with Dan's team helps us incredibly. Raul (Boesel, Gurney's driver this weekend) and I have been comparing notes, and the engineering crews on both teams have been doing the same. I think Raul running in the 230s, too, so things are looking up for both of us.

"It's everyone's backyard here at Fontana. We'd like to win it for Toyota. We'd like to win it for Dan Gurney. And, of course, most of all for everyone who's worked so hard to make this happen for us here at Team Gordon."

Practice for the Marlboro 500, presented by Toyota, begins Friday (Oct. 29), with qualifying set for Saturday (Oct. 30). The green flag falls on race day Sunday (Oct. 31), at noon PST with a live cable broadcast to be provided by ESPN.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Dan Gurney