Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Transcript April 29, 2003 Robby Gordon Part 2 of 3 Q: You are going to drive with Michael in his last race, and how do you feel about that? And also, about your memories 10 years ago when you were...
Indy Racing League
Weekly Teleconference Transcript
April 29, 2003
Part 2 of 3
Q: You are going to drive with Michael in his last race, and how do you feel about that? And also, about your memories 10 years ago when you were with Foyt when he called it quits.
R. Gordon: Yes. I have been very fortunate over the years to drive with some of the great names in automobile racing, and I have never driven with Andretti on a team before or for him. Now I am on the same team and driving for him, so that is an honor to be driving for Andretti, and I am ecstatic that Michael actually, and Kim and everybody, picked me to drive the car. That was a complete honor to be driving a car with him. And like I said, over the last couple of years I understand what it takes to be a race team. You must support the whole team. And if I cannot win that race, I am going to do everything I can to help Michael win that race.
Q: Do you still look back at that 1999 race and running out of fuel and when you looked like you had a win?
R. Gordon: I look back at that race. I look back at -- last year we were extremely strong, probably stronger than a lot of people remember, but we had that fuel fire. I think we started 13th (11th) and by the time the first pit stop came, we were leading. I'm sorry, not leading, we were inside the top five, and that was a good weekend for us. Unfortunately we had the fuel fire in pit lane where the fuel hose got stuck in the car and I ended up having to use fuel from one of Foyt's pits to finish the race. So, you know, I have had so many opportunities to be competitive, and I have let them slip away time and time again.
Q: Have you ever had any second thoughts about becoming a NASCAR driver full time instead of an IndyCarTM Series driver where you seem to excel pretty well?
R. Gordon: I really have not had second thoughts on it. I mean I enjoy it now. And I want to make this clear: I enjoy racing, and it is not that I enjoy one more than the other. I just chose Winston Cup racing in 1997, and it was something that I have not figured out, and I think that is probably the thing that is more intriguing than anything is I have not, I would not say dominated, but I have not got it where we are competitive week in and week out. And that is a goal for me is to prove that I can be competitive in Winston Cup racing.
Q: Robby, it appears that there will only be something like 34, 36 race cars with motors in them at the Speedway. Isn't it true that you could just as well as show up at the Speedway and work immediately on your race setup and pretty much put qualifications out of your mind knowing that you are going to start anyway and knowing, I assume, that a really good race setup is better than an advantageous starting position? Do you feel that way?
R. Gordon: It is a good point made, but I am sure more cars will come out of the woodwork, more engines, more drivers. They always do at the Speedway. There is also that first-turn survival thing, and it seems like -- I know Scott Sharp a couple years ago crashed at the front. But that does not happen very often. It seems to happen back in row five, you have incidents at the start of the race. So I think qualifying is still very important because it puts you up with faster cars, faster guys, etc. So I do not know if I would completely just say 'rule out qualifying, start working on race setup'. I think they still reward you pretty big for qualifying on the pole there, and I know it is important. I understand what you are saying about just working on race setup, but with the amount of time that you have at the Brickyard to run, I have always had good race setups by the time we have gone racing.
Q: About the starting position, if you look at photographs at the start for the last 50 years you will see that almost nobody is in position. There is no 11th row. There is no sixth row. There is no first row. At the moment the race flag waves, whereas you may start at the front end everybody is out of position.
R. Gordon: Actually, they do a pretty good job for the first four or five rows. I know they push us really hard. What happens is the air gets very turbulent back there. And I have had to start toward the back one time and I think, maybe not toward the back, I do not know what my worse start was. I think it was when I drove for Foyt. But I mean I could barely breath back there with all the alcohol coming out of the engines and stuff. That fuel burns, it is kind of foggy and hazy. Like I said, it is important to be inside the top three rows. I know that for sure.
Q: I just want to ask you a quick question. Even if you win this, which we all think you are very capable of doing, wouldn't you have to come back and want to run it again when Tony Stewart is running with you? Wouldn't you want to beat him?
R. Gordon: Well, Tony has run it with me before, and I am pretty sure I have beaten him every time. So you know, I don't know if that is actual fact but I am pretty sure of it. It would be nice for him to be there, but I do not know the reason why he is not there, so I really do not want to elaborate on that. Indy is still Indy, and the best guys always show up there. I do not think by any means that Tony has dominated the Indianapolis 500.
Q: And as far as your schedule, is it all set now? Are you prepared, schedule-wise, or is it going to take the next couple of weeks to pull it together? I mean is it all set in stone for you?
R. Gordon: Yes, the schedule is pretty much intact. We have a good baseline to work off last year. The Winston Cup schedule has not changed much. It is actually accommodated me a little bit more. I know they did not do that on purpose, but with the Richmond race being a night race it now lets me be there for Opening Day at the Brickyard.
Q: Robby, I know you have been at the Indianapolis quite a bit, and I suppose you are going to tell me you still get butterflies when you go out on the grid?
R. Gordon: I love the Speedway. I said at the Brickyard that I wake up for this place. And you know, we finished eighth at the Brickyard 400 last year, and we finished at eighth at last year's Indy 500, so we are closing in on to figuring out how to set up the Winston Cup cars as good as I have the Indy cars figured out. But the Brickyard is a very special place to me.
Q: You seem like you like it.
R. Gordon: I love that place, and every opportunity I get to go there I am going. I am going to race.
Q: Yes, Robby, how close was it getting to the point you did not think you were going to have a ride here?
R. Gordon: I had a couple others, fairly close. I was kind of, how do I say it in a nice way? I was holding out for the best opportunity, and I feel this was an opportunity that I could win at. You know, the team still has a lot to do with the whole program. It is not just about the driver. I have a lot of respect for Kim Green and Kevin Savoree and obviously Michael Andretti as a race car driver. Now I am the driver for him as a team. But I know how Kim and Barry have run that team. I am sure it has not changed very much, and Michael has some great people onboard there to help him.
Q: Robby, did they call you or did you call them?
R. Gordon: Actually, Kevin called me, and I called him back before I even got his message, so it was all about the same time.
Q: And was this one of these things that when you got the call and when you realized they were interested?
R. Gordon: It took about, to be honest with you, it took about 10 days to get the thing done.
Q: Is that right?
R. Gordon: Yes. So from last Friday, well actually we got it done Thursday night. It was 10 days prior to that we were talking about the program.
Q: But I have been in situations where someone has called me with a deal. and I knew the negotiations would have to go on, but there is that initial thing that says, 'I am going to make this work; one way or the other I am going to make this work'. This is what I need. Did that pop in your head?
R. Gordon: That was me. I definitely wanted to make the program work right from the get-go.
Q: I wanted to ask you this Friday when you announced this whole deal, but I did not get a chance. A lot of people were making kind of a lot about your and Michael's kind of relationship there from what happened at Cleveland in '95. Were they over-blowing that or have you guys all ready buried the hatchet on that thing and moved on?
R. Gordon: You know, that is the one thing that I think a lot of people probably misunderstand about race car drivers. We race cars for the moment, OK? And when you get out of the car, your heat is for that moment. So when it is all over, it is over. You know, you cannot dwell on it forever. Michael actually told Kevin this, it is coming to you third-hand. But one of his partners, I believe he is a partner or he is a business manager for him over there at Andretti Green, he said: 'This is going to prove that I am a pretty good team owner because I am willing to hire a guy that I have had feuds with in the past, but I know the guy is competitive.' And I give him a lot of credit for that.
Q: Now because there are also some people out there in the garage after that, saying that, you know, Michael is saying he is not even going to talk to you on this team, that that was one of the conditions that he would bring you on the team is he does not have to talk to you if he does not want to.
R. Gordon: No. Just so you know, we have had numerous telephone conversations over the last 10 days. My wife had conversations with Michael directly, and I see zero problem whatsoever with Michael Andretti and myself.