Continued from part 1 YOUR SPONSORS HAVE ALWAYS STOOD BEHIND YOU. ROBBY GORDON: "The only reason any of us have sponsors today in this day and age is because of performance, popularity, etc. It's about marketing. It's about promotions, etc.
Continued from part 1
YOUR SPONSORS HAVE ALWAYS STOOD BEHIND YOU.
ROBBY GORDON: "The only reason any of us have sponsors today in this day and age is because of performance, popularity, etc. It's about marketing. It's about promotions, etc. If you go down and you do searches on drivers, we continue - even though I'm 29th in points today whereas I was 25th last week, we lost some points - we continue to be a top-10 rated driver. However you want to rate your driver as far as popularity. I've been able to do that time and time again, and I think that's how we're able to keep ourselves in a position to have the sponsors that we do."
DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA WHY NASCAR PARKED YOU ON SUNDAY? WAS IT THE BLACK FLAG? THE SPIN OUT OF MARCOS AFTER THE RESTART? WAS IT THE BURNOUT AFTER THE RACE?
ROBBY GORDON: "What Mr. Helton told me and, obviously, Saturday's meeting was different than Sunday's. All of us had a night to think about it and walk back in the trailer on Sunday morning, and the reason I was parked on Sunday last weekend was for not obeying the black flag penalty. I gave him my explanation of obeying the black flag penalty and he wanted to make sure I understood what the black flag penalty means. That means they have control. If every one of the drivers out there didn't want to obey any of the rules, we would have a complete melee all the time. So I can understand what NASCAR was wanting to do there. On my side, in the little bit of defense I have for my side, is the fact that with a black flag normally if you're speeding down pit road and you get a black flag penalty you have three laps to respond. I'm thinking, 'OK, there's two laps left in the race. We'll respond after the race and we'll deal with this.' It wasn't for wrecking Marcos. That wasn't what my fine and penalty was for. Obviously detrimental to stock car racing, when they mention that I'm sure it's everything added up together, but the black flag penalty was the key element here. My words for Mike Helton were, I need to understand what their rules are. Black flag means obey their rules and I do understand that and we'll move forward from here."
WHAT DO YOU DO THE NEXT TIME YOU WANT TO DEBATE A CALL?
ROBBY GORDON: "Everytime time we come out of pit road and we're gonna count a spot, I'm just gonna take the second spot in lane. It's in my nature. I'm gonna get it anyway, so I might as well take it (laughter). As far as speeding down pit road, I'm gonna go five miles under from now on and, hopefully, we'll win the race still."
THOUGHTS ON RUNNING YOUR FIRST CUP RACE?
MARCOS AMBROSE: "It's a big opportunity for me. Less than two years ago I had never even driven on an oval race track, let alone coming to NASCAR. This rise for me has been amazing. I didn't think I'd get an opportunity to run Cup this year after we postponed our own program for the 47 Cup deal with Team Australia, so for me to get a nice little bonus is great. I feel like it's a perfect situation for to come into the Cup Series. It's a road course. That's what I know what I'm doing. I've got no owner's points to worry about. I can just go in and try my best and just enjoy the experience because I'm living a dream. I never imagined I'd get this far in motorsports at all, so it's just a real bonus and I'm real thrilled to be here."
HOW DO YOU FEEL THE RULE SHOULD BE CHANGED FOR WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU LAST WEEKEND?
ROBBY GORDON: "I'm sure NASCAR will come up with some type of solution. The rule is right now that you must maintain a cautious speed and that's a little difficult. I know it resorts back to the next loop or something like that, but it's not my job to make the rules. It's my job to play by the rules, so that's what my intention is for this weekend. I want to get back onto the positive side of things here and maybe try to stop focusing on some of the negative so much. I'm gonna put Marcos in a car that we qualified on the front row at Sonoma - identical, the same thing and he's gonna have all the tools to go out here and win. I think we can put two cars, and knowing his ability with road racing, everybody talks about Boris Said and Ron Fellows being the road racing aces, but I'd put this guy right in the same category as those guys and it's gonna be an exciting weekend."
WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO PULLING THIS OFF?
ROBBY GORDON: "I would say right now it's pulled off. The next thing we've got to do is we've got to communicate on Friday very well. We've got to share information as a team would do. I haven't had a teammate in two years, so it's gonna be nice to say, 'OK, here's what I'm on for tire pressures, why don't you try this.' And he can come back and say, 'This is the information we learned.' So I think there are gonna be some real benefits to being able to help each other this weekend. The little bit of distraction that we're gonna get, I think it's gonna be a bigger positive than a distraction by having that extra information on Friday. He can work on qualifying Friday because he has to make the show, so I'll go work on race setup. And then when it comes Saturday when he makes the show, we'll hand him over where we're at and we'll start heading off from there and gather more information."
MARCOS AMBROSE: "I think a lot of the hard work has already been done. Roush Yates was great to get us a motor at the last minute - to get a race motor put in his back-up car. I managed to twist the arms of my pit crew to get them to hang over on Saturday, the same with my team owners, and talk through it with them, too. I think a lot of the logistics and hard stuff has been done. We really now just have to action it. I've got to get there on Friday and not knock around - get into the race track because I've never been there before - get a couple of qualifying runs down and just qualify the car in. Once we do that, then I'll think about what we have to do after that, but my focus is just to get in the car and go. We'll rely on Robby's guys to give me a good package when I get there and, hopefully, it'll take care of itself."
YOU WERE ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO RUN THIS RACE IN CUP WITH THE WOOD BROTHERS/JTG. WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT?
MARCOS AMBROSE: "It was a combination of factors. I think our team is still growing. We built five teams from the get-go last year and we still have some growing pains. The 21 car is struggling to get back in the owner points and into the top 35. That's a real focus for us as a team and as a group, so to bring on for one or two races - another Cup deal - it was just stretching us too thin. The budget wasn't really there. It was a little tight on the budget, plus logistically it was very, very hard to get done. I actually should have put my hand up before Infineon and said, 'Look guys, I'd like to do the road courses, but let's just worry about what's really important and that's getting the 21 up in points. Let's get the two Busch cars back on track.' We're running top 10 in the points in the Busch Series right now. That's really a lot of my focus too, so there is a lot of good stuff going, we just didn't think the timing was right for it."
YOU TOOK THE HIGH ROAD AFTER THE RACE. WHAT KIND OF FEEDBACK HAVE YOU GOTTEN FROM THAT?
MARCOS AMBROSE: "It's been fantastic. I'm just trying to be myself. Like I said, I've been down this road before where I've said things I've regretted and done things I've regretted, so I've learned from my mistakes. I know I just want to wake up the next morning and have a cup of coffee and not worry about what I'd said. I was really disappointed with the end result for my team and my team owners and myself and everyone that's put so much effort into that weekend. It was a great day and just a bad end to a great day. We just really focused on the positive and I'm always an optimistic guy anyway. I know we didn't win the race. We could have, should have, whatever, but at the end of the day it was still a great performance by us and it's given us this opportunity so a lot of good has come out of a nasty situation."
WHAT WERE YOU GOING TO MEET ABOUT ORIGINALLY?
ROBBY GORDON: "Well, I like the guy. To be honest with you, I like the guy and I know he's new to the town. I'm still fairly new around here. I just work a lot, so I was like, 'Hey, we'll get together. We'll go out on the lake. We'll do something just to get to know each other more.' I truly like the guy as a competitor. I like him as a human being and it's obvious to see why he's such a likeable guy with the way he communicates with people and the way he respects the sport and the competition."
DID FORD TALK TO YOU AT ALL? DID THEY HELP YOU AT ALL LOGISTICALLY? WAS DAN DAVIS THE GUY WHO SENT YOU THE E-MAIL? (LAUGHTER)
ROBBY GORDON: "No, Dan wasn't the guy that sent the e-mail, but I can relate to their situation because I was one of those Ford guys that Ford had a lot to do with about bringing him over here. I know they don't fully fund his program, but they support Marcos. They believe he's a very talented driver. I know what Dan sees in Marcos and I can appreciate that. They did not facilitate it, but when I called them yesterday and said, 'Here's what I'm gonna do.' They were over the top. They were like, 'You're gonna do that?' I'm like, 'Yeah, we're gonna do it.' 'Can you do it? Is it gonna hurt your effort?' 'No, it's not gonna hurt our effort. We'll be OK. We'll just figure out how to do it and we did. My conversation with Ford was great and, obviously, it's one more Ford car that's gonna have an opportunity to win this weekend. When I say 'win' I know you guys probably roll your eyes and say, 'What do you mean, win?' There's no doubt in my mind that this guy can come out here and easily run in the top 10. In Nextel Cup racing, if you can run in the top 10, the door is gonna open up if you're running there because things are gonna happen. We saw it at Sonoma. If you keep putting yourself in the position to go through the door, he might just find himself in Victory Lane in his first race."
DO YOU SEE THIS AS A POSSIBLE FIRST STEP OF WORKING MORE WITH THE WOOD BROTHERS/JTG AND POSSIBLY COMBINING EFFORTS?
ROBBY GORDON: "I think we're taking big steps here trying to figure out how to put this together. Obviously, we are working together this weekend. There are things I'm sure we can do. It probably would have paid off even more like with the car of yesterday, if we could have shared body stuff. I actually talked with Mike McSwain before about doing an aerodynamic program at speedways and there was a guy available, I think he went to the 78 car, that he really wanted to build bodies. He was like, 'Will you go in and partner with us and we'll hire this guy and put him in business and he can do our speedway cars.' So we have had conversations like that in the past, but they've built a new facility where they're at and we're building a facility here. Unfortunately, we're probably too far apart for that or too far down our own separate paths, but you never know. Things change and things happen like always."
WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS HAS DONE FOR YOUR PUBLIC IMAGE WITH THE FANS?
ROBBY GORDON: "My image is what my image is. It's been set for years. At the end of the day, my biggest thing is I think this guy can drive. If I cost him an opportunity at a victory last weekend, which I did, I'm gonna give him an opportunity to win a Cup race instead of a Busch race. It's gonna be fun. Honestly, he will have everything I have this weekend. I guess when it comes down to two racers, you just like the fact of competing. It doesn't matter if we're gonna go to Victory Lane down here tonight and race go-karts or we're gonna run this Sunday at Watkins Glen, it's just about having fun and competing."
-credit: ford racing