This week's NASCAR Winston Cup Teleconference featured Robby Gordon, driver of the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet Monte Carlo and team owner, Richard Childress. This weekend, the series moves to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California for the...
This week's NASCAR Winston Cup Teleconference featured Robby Gordon, driver of the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet Monte Carlo and team owner, Richard Childress.
This weekend, the series moves to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California for the Dodge/Save Mart 350. Gordon has enjoyed plenty of success in his last three races at Sonoma. He placed 9th in 2000, 2nd in 2001, and 11th in 2002. He has also led at least one lap in three of his five career races there with a high of 20 laps led in 2001. Robby is currently 16th in the Winston Cup point standings. He has one top five and four top-10 finishes this season. His best to date was a 4th place finish in the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond.
Part 1 of 2
Q: ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT THE ROAD RACE AT SONOMA?
"I'm definitely looking forward to going there. We have tested on some road courses to prepare for going there. We have not been to Sonoma to test, but we have been to other road courses. I think we have a really good package this year in the Cingular Wireless Chevrolet and Richard Childress Racing."
Q: ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO RACING IN YOUR HOME STATE?
"Yes, it's nice to be back home. But I grew up in Southern California and it's about a 10-hour drive up to Sonoma. So it's a long ways away."
Q: SO, SONOMA ISN'T REALLY A HOME TRACK FOR YOU?
"No, California Speedway in Fontana is more of a home track for me."
Q: AT LAST YEAR'S SONOMA RACE, THE PIT STOPS DIDN'T FALL IN YOUR FAVOR. HOW MUCH WORK HAS THE TEAM DONE ON STRATEGY FOR SUNDAY'S RACE?
"I think that's probably the only reason we didn't have another top five finish (last year). We made a bad pit call early in the race and it hung us out. It was very hard to come back from that. Tony Stewart and I both made that call. It was very hard for both of us to climb back up through the pack after that."
Q: CAN YOU PLAN THESE THINGS OR DO YOU HAVE TO SEE HOW THE RACE UNFOLDS?) "Now we understand at least how hard it is to pass on a road course. It's hard to give up that track position. We caught it at a caution and everybody else got to jump in and we didn't get back up to the front. That hurt us. If we had played our strategy a little differently, we might have been the car the win. I think the most important thing to do is to work it backwards from the finish to figure how far we can go on tires and fuel. That would tell us where our stops needed to be. We have talked about it. We lost a couple of races last year because of pit stop strategy."
Q: HAVE YOU GAINED MOMENTUM IN THE LAST FEW RACES?
"We have a really good program but we struggle for some reason on these mile and a half, and two-mile race tracks. It's across the board at RCR. Kevin Harvick has also struggled to finish in the top 10 on these tracks as well. I think the reason why is our downforce level from front to rear is off a little bit. We need to get those numbers closer in race trim instead of qualifying trim. We have really good qualifying cars right now and we need to shift that to better race cars. When we get that figured out, we'll be a lot better on our mile and a half program."
Q: DO YOU FEEL AS COMFORTABLE ON THE ROAD COURSES AS YOU DID IN CHAMP CARS?
"I feel very comfortable. We went to VIR about two weeks ago (to test) and I believe we broke the track record there by about a second and a half. The closest competitor - there were about 20 cars there - was about two seconds."
Q: HOW DISTRACTING WILL IT BE TO HAVE CHARLIE'S ANGELS ON YOUR CAR?
"Yeah, it could be a very distracting weekend."
Q: BECAUSE YOU'RE HAVING A PRETTY GOOD YEAR, CAN SAY I TOLD YOU SO TO SOME OF THE DOUBTERS?
"I don't think we can do that yet. The media make it hard on us race car drivers. This year and last year, we've proven that I can finish races and not wreck and bring home a complete race car. That's why we're somewhat decent because we have been consistent and finished every race this year. On the other side of things, we probably could have been in a better position to win races if we would have been a little less conservative. At RCR, we're a little conservative on our engine packages. And that's keeping us in the hunt but it's kept us stuck around 10th place finishes.
Q: ON HAVING SIMILIAR PERFORMANCE PROBLEMS WITH HIS TEAMMATES AT RCR
"At RCR, we're all struggling. When I say 'we', I mean Kevin Harvick, Steve Park, and myself on these two-mile tracks. If we're all complaining about the same thing, we need to get our package better as a whole. We are working really hard on it.
"Last weekend at Michigan, Superman couldn't have made my car turn. We did everything we could to make that car loose. It was the same problem Kevin Harvick had. We share so much information and talk about each other because of the problems we chase with the car. Everybody chases problems all the time with a race car. Race car drivers are always picking on little pieces of the car to make it more competitive. We've got a great race team at RCR. I don't want to say we don't have a good team. We're just working real hard to get better."
Q: WHERE IS YOUR STRENGTH?
"My strength is in the car control area and then learning the race tracks. The more experience you gain, the better you are. The tracks where downforce doesn't matter - like Richmond and Martinsville - we've been really strong lately as well as the road courses. I think this is going to be a good weekend for us and we should be able to score a lot of points."
Q: WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT ROAD COURSE RACING?
"I don't know why, but my driving style suits the road courses really well. We have been very competitive on the road courses. I've had one of the strongest cars on all the road courses and we've let victory slip away because of everything from television cameras catching on fire to making bad pit calls and bad pit stops. We've made some mistakes that have cost us a victory and I think everyone on this team is working really hard to make sure that we can capitalize on it if the opportunity presents itself."
Q: WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ON RYAN NEWMAN'S CRASH & FIRE AT MICHIGAN LAST WEEKEND?
"That's just an example of a team pushing the envelope on the engine package on every facet of it. It blew up big. I don't know if a line came off it or what happened. But that was one of the biggest blow-ups I've seen in a long time."