Robby Gordon, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet Monte Carlo - posted the 6th fastest time in the Day 3 AM session: Is this the new Robby Gordon?: "Boy, I hope so. I'm still doing things the same way I did before but we've got a great deal hear.
Robby Gordon, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet Monte Carlo - posted the 6th fastest time in the Day 3 AM session:
Is this the new Robby Gordon?: "Boy, I hope so. I'm still doing things the same way I did before but we've got a great deal hear. Winning at Loudon gave us a lot of momentum. This team has worked hard for five years trying to get to Victory Lane and we were fortunate enough to get there. I think that helped us over the winter. It's built a lot of momentum just getting ready for Daytona."
Has your personal life changed? "No, not much. It's very similar. Obviously we've got a new sponsor with Cingular Wireless. I worked with this team for 10 races last year, so life really hasn't changed much. A lot of the TV stuff went down for the winter as soon as that race was over and between that and the (awards) banquet, there wasn't much time. Winter was here and racing slowed down. Now we're back full steam ahead and ready for the season to get going. With our win at Loudon, we start 2002 as a race winner now. We could have easily won three races last year. Looking at that, I'm real excited about this year."
Was winning at Loudon a fluke? Do you feel pressured to win again right away? "That wasn't a fluke. You look at how strong we were at Watkins Glen, Phoenix, Sears Point and some other races. That was only my second race with Gil (Martin). We're going to gel better the more we test. I struggle a little bit in qualifying and we're going to work on that in Vegas here in a couple of weeks. We want to bring our qualifying effort up a little bit. Daytona is a lot about the guys and the race team. The ones that do their homework are the ones that unload off the truck quick. We're fifth to tenth every session here and I'm happy with that."
Has this car sat on the pole before? "Yes, this car has sat on the pole. RCR has a thick notebook with Daytona information. In 2000, we ran just about the same rules that we're running now. These guys have looked at their notes. We brought two cars here and they're both running flawlessly. We've learned a lot and the cars have been similar in lap time. We've been working through a process of elimination to see what works and what doesn't work with this package. We're trying to bring back the best thing for the race. (Teammates) Kevin Harvick and Jeff Green are coming down here to test and that will help increase our information. We'll be a stronger team when we roll out."
Does RCR's strength in restrictor-plate racing, give you more confidence? "Obviously winning is the goal. It takes a lot to win this race (Daytona 500). I'm going to have to be on my game 100 percent. The guys are going to have to give us good pit stops. If they give us good pit stops like they did in New Hampshire, we're going to pass guys every time. The guys are pumped. They are the last race winners and that's a good thing."
Regarding your teammates, will you need a lion-tamer at times? "I think I'm mature enough that I can handle it. I think I showed that at Sears Point with Kevin (Harvick) and I've never had a problem with Jeff Green. He's always been a pleasure to work with. I don't see us having a problem. We all have to remember that we race cars for a living. We tend to take ourselves way too serious at times."
Were you impatient at Sears Point? "Absolutely not. Have you ever seen a lapped car knock a leader sideways? In all these years, I don't think so. I'm still standing on my ground that Kevin should have given me some room. Yeah, he had new tires but he was only faster than us on new tires and in two or three laps, we would have been quicker than him again. Not a big deal. We learn from those mistakes and try not to have it happen again."
In looking back, wouldn't it have been better to just let Kevin go? "Once one goes by, the other one sticks his nose in at the same time. Honestly, if you move out of the way, and a guy sticks his nose in and goes by anyway. (Jeff) Gordon was there, Tony (Stewart) was there - they were all over me. I knew I had a great opportunity with Richard Childress and I thought he would back Kevin off me. We were talking back then (I can say this now) about this opportunity. I was thinking he would play guard here for me a little bit and help me get into Victory Lane and that would help Richard convince Cingular that I would be their guy. These conversations were going on at Sears Point. That was really one of the reasons why you didn't see me come and pop after the race. I've learned from some of my mistakes. I toughed it up and went with it. I think that's how I'm sitting in the seat right now."
How does the Robby who first came to Winston Cup compare with the Robby of today? "There's not much difference. When I first came to Winston Cup, I was driving for AJ Foyt and we rolled out of the box real quick. We had a good shot at winning Talladega in the No. 28 car. We led the race for a while. I don't think I've really changed much except for the years of experience by going to different race tracks."
How much experience do you have on ovals? "Probably only 80 or 90 races in my whole life have been on ovals. I only ran 17 of them last year and before that - in Indy cars - I never raced on ovals. So these guys still have a lot of experience on me. But it's all about balance. RCR found me the right balance at Loudon."
(How is the draft going to be and how are things going to go here at the Daytona 500? "Last year, I was running third when we had the big deal (accident). The key is knowing when to go. In restrictor plate racing, the cars run close to each other. There's nothing you're really going to do about it. This package will pull them a little bit away from each other a little bit more, but not a lot. You'll still see guys going up through the middle three-wide. It's still gong to be exciting racing. The key here is to get good pit stops and putting yourself in front. If you're in front and you've got enough car to go, you can be there to win the race."