IRL: Gordon still searching for answers

IRL: Gordon still searching for answers

CONCORD, NC - Robby Gordon rarely spends any time not racing. Besides his NASCAR commitments, he also partakes in off-road racing, go-carts, and just about anything with four wheels and a motor. Robby learned humility working in his dad's feed...

CONCORD, NC - Robby Gordon rarely spends any time not racing. Besides his NASCAR commitments, he also partakes in off-road racing, go-carts, and just about anything with four wheels and a motor.

Robby learned humility working in his dad's feed yard raking hay as a teenager, and eventually worked his way into the SCORE off-road series, where he was champion for five straight years starting in 1985.

Gordon's NASCAR career has been spotty, though. He made his NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut in 1991 driving at the Daytona 500 for Junie Donelavey. He finished 18th. From 1993 to 1999, Gordon dropped in and out of the series running a few races here and there. In 2000, Gordon launched a team with Mike Held and John Menard that put the driver behind the wheel for 17 of 36 events. His best finishes that season were two top-tens at the road courses at Sonoma and Watkins Glen.

Robby Gordon celebrating.
Photo by Dave Dalesandro.
The 2001 season began to provide some steadiness for the 34-year-old California native, despite the fact that he drove for three different Winston Cup teams that season. The year ended with a bang as he nudged Jeff Gordon aside to win his first ever career NASCAR race at Loudon, New Hampshire in the No. 31 RCR Chevy.

Gordon's win helped secure a job within the RCR stable of driver's in 2002, where his main focus was finding the winning combination with his crew. By mid-season, however, RCR was limping. Star driver Kevin Harvick's sophomore slump combined with poor performances by Gordon prompted Childress to swap crew members between the two teams. While Childress searched for answers, Gordon searched for patience.

"Well I think we started off the season real well," said Gordon in 2002. "Even though the performance hasn't been there. What I learn to do is be more patient and when I have a seventh or eighth place car, just to accept it."

"We are obviously trying to perform well also," Gordon continued. "We have a little work to do, I am not sure if we are in the position to win races yet. But, we are close."

Robby Gordon.
Photo by Jim Redman.
The 2002 season for Gordon was a year of adjustments, and mottled racing results. Despite salvaging a 20th place spot in the year end standings, Gordon failed to score any victories and only garnered one top-five and five top-ten finishes in the 36 events.

This year, Gordon was determined to turn his luck around. He started off the year with a bang, landing a win at the Gatorade Twin 125 qualifying event during Speedweeks at Daytona, and already acquiring three top-ten's in eleven events.

"We've qualified very good this year," commented Gordon of his performance. "I am pleased with that. I just want to find performance. I am pleased with the pit stops and all of those types of things."

In addition to his Winston Cup commitment, Gordon also finds different ways to challenge himself competitively. This weekend, Gordon will make a stab at being the 1100-mile man. He will race both the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte and the Indianapolis 500 in Indiana.

Robby Gordon.
Photo by Earl Ma.
Gordon put the #27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/FirestoneIndy car on the front row for the Brickyard spring classic and will roll off from the 38th position for Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

"The last few days have gone pretty good," Gordon said of the challenge of double-duty.

Unlike last year, Gordon is taking precautions medically to be at his fittest during the 1100-mile odyssey. He will take an IV before the 500, and an IV and oxygen before the 600.

"That was where I went wrong last year," reflected Gordon. "I was pretty happy all day long.I felt good enough after the race that I didn't think I needed an IV. Well, I probably should have taken it.

"The only problem was that I had stomach cramps. And I believe I had stomach cramps because of not racing those cars (Indy cars) all the time. Our Winston Cup cars make a lot of G-forces in the corner, but it's not just laterally like the Indy cars. It's more compressed and lateral."

Robby Gordon.
Photo by Earl Ma.
Gordon is thrilled that car owner and teammates are supporting his decision to race in both events this weekend, each hold a special importance to him. In fact, car owned Richard Childress and teammate Kevin Harvick both accompanied Gordon to Indianapolis on Thursday for moral support.

"I feel pretty good," said Gordon. "It's been a pretty smooth month. Both race teams have given me great race cars. We're not going to worry about things that are out of our control."

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About this article
Series IndyCar , NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Robby Gordon , Jim Redman