ROBBY GORDON AND HIS FIRST-YEAR TROOPS LOOK TO GET BACK ON TRACK AT MID-OHIO LEXINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 9, 1999) -- With all due respects to the great Motor City and the state of Michigan that surrounds it, Team Gordon and its 30-year-old...
ROBBY GORDON AND HIS FIRST-YEAR TROOPS LOOK TO GET BACK ON TRACK AT MID-OHIO
LEXINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 9, 1999) -- With all due respects to the great Motor City and the state of Michigan that surrounds it, Team Gordon and its 30-year-old owner-driver Robby Gordon are glad to go back to Ohio.
Back-to-back CART FedEx Championship Series events -- at Michigan Speedway for the U.S. 500 last month, and last weekend's Grand Prix of Detroit on Belle Isle -- ended way too prematurely for anyone's liking in the Team Gordon camp. They'd just as soon put it all behind them and get on with this weekend's Miller 200 at the beautiful Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
"That was a thoroughly forgettable pair of weekends up there," said Gordon, who was forced to park an ill-handling car early on in the U.S. 500, and ended up in the wall with a broken wing after getting run into from behind at Detroit.
Gordon has a hunch the scenic 2.25-mile permanent road course at Mid-Ohio will bring him better luck this weekend as he straps back into his #22 Johns Manville/ Panasonic/Menards Toyota-powered Swift Champ Car.
"I've always enjoyed driving at Mid-Ohio," continued Gordon, who finished third, fourth and eighth here over a three-year stretch from 1993-95. "It's a place where you can really let it all hang out. A true road course with a good balance of fast and slow sections -- a momentum track -- and one where we did pretty well in testing a couple of weeks ago. We hope we can build on that starting the first practice session on Friday."
Something else Team Gordon appears to be building on is upon a pair of key engineering and mechanic additions to the lineup.
The return of engineer Brian Berthold and a healthy dose of his "Shock Therapy" has shown the potential for great improvement for the Team Gordon program, and the arrival of chief mechanic Brad Fibley has had the race shop running like, well, a well-oiled machine.
Shock absorbers are Berghold's specialty, and his presence paid off at the recent Mid-Ohio test, where Gordon was third-fastest over two days, and in qualifying last weekend at Michigan, where he was approaching the top-10 after the opening qualifying session.
"It's like the 'black magic' Brian seems to apply in fine tuning the race car to his special brand of shocks. We're slowly fine tuning our first-year race team, which everyone knows doesn't happen overnight," said co-owner Mike Held, who with Gordon and John Menard launched this program during this past offseason. "We've had some breakthroughs here and there, but overall it's been a matter of taking baby steps all along the way that's getting us to where we'll eventually want to be. We'll just keep fine tuning things until the results are where we want them to be. And then we'll keep fine tuning to keep us there. It's an exercise in patience, to say the least!"
Practice and qualifying for the Miller Lite 200, Round 14 of 20 on this year's CART FedEx Championship Series, begins Friday (Aug. 13) and resumes Saturday (Aug. 14). The green flag falls Sunday (Aug. 15) at 2:30 p.m. EDT with a one-hour tape-delayed broadcast by ABC-TV set to begin at 3:30 p.m. EDT.