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. Part 2 of 2 ROBBY GORDON: Q: WILL YOUR EXPERIENCE AT THE INDY 500 HELP YOU...
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.
Part 2 of 2
Q: WILL YOUR EXPERIENCE AT THE INDY 500 HELP YOU WITH THE RACE THIS WEEKEND?
"The biggest thing about being at Indianapolis all month was that it will help me next year at IMS. There is not much that the Indy 500 car can help me with at Sonoma."
Q: IF YOU COULD SHARE YOUR FINEST MOMENTS WITH US, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU START WITH?
"I've had some really good moments in racing. Winning my very first race I ever entered in a car - and my dad finishing second - was probably one of the finer moments. It seems like every year there is such a good moment - from qualifying for my first Daytona 500 to qualifying for my first Indy 500. I've been very fortunate over the years to have good sponsors on both the Winston Cup and Indy sides that allow me to compete at a competitive level."
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON YOUR TEAMS AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON?) "We're excited. We're disappointed in our season so far in some of our finishes, but the cars have run pretty good on the race track. Robby has done an excellent job driving the cars and he has adjusted to a full time Winston Cup schedule. We've just got to get our cars and our stuff where we can be a little more consistent and be in the top 10 and that's when you'll win races.
"We're excited about having Steve Park on. Any time you make a change it takes time to get it worked out. And Kevin Harvick has done a great job. That whole team has been right there. For the past three weeks, we've struggled with all our teams for some reason. Robby had a really good run at Dover (9th). We're looking forward now to having basically three weeks off to try to re-group going into Chicago."
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS ABOUT NEXTEL TAKING OVER AS THE SERIES SPONSOR AND HOW WILL THAT AFFECT YOUR CINGULAR WIRELESS SPONSORSHIP ON THE NO. 31 CAR?
"Cingular Wireless is a great sponsor. They do a lot in racing. I think they would look at it as opportunity. They accept competition. No matter who it would be, I'm sure they'll do a great job. We've had RJReynolds ever since I've been in Winston Cup - since the 70's. I was one of the few people left around when they came in. They did a great job of carrying the sport to the next level. I'm sure whoever else comes in will do a good job with it. If it is another communication company, I'm sure we'll be talking about it.
"When we first found out that there was the potential of a wireless company, we spoke with them and there didn't seem to be a great concern. But I'm sure they had to run it up the pole at their headquarters in Atlanta. I haven't heard back that there would be anything negative. Knowing their marketing plans and strategy, there going to look at this as opportunity."
Q: DID YOU ASK NASCAR IF THERE WOULD BE A PROBLEM WITH CINGULAR IF NEXTEL CAME IN?
"There's not going to be a problem with Cingular and the other wireless company that's in there now because I think they would be grand-fathered in. I don't know that for a fact. I haven't seen it written. But that's just what we all understand."
Q: DO YOU AGREE WITH THE EXCLUSIVITY OF NASCAR REGARDING SOLICITING COMPANIES TO SPONSOR THE TEAMS?
"Winston Cup racing has always been like that. We couldn't have brought Marlboro into the sport or any other tobacco companies. There've been some smokeless tobaccos. But I think it's always been under those restrictions. Most any series sponsor would want that."
Q: IS THERE A REASON TO THINK THEY WOULD GET OUT OF THE SPORT OR THAT IT WOULD BE A CONFLICT?
"I'm hoping they would look at it as an opportunity. They've done a lot in the sport. They've done a lot for RCR and Robby Gordon. We're excited about continuing our relationship with them. We've got two more years on our contract."
Q: WHAT ARE THE MAIN FACTORS THAT ARE KEEPING YOUR TEAMS FROM BEING COMPETITIVE WEEK IN AND WEEK OUT?
"We can't put our figure on it. If we could, we would have fixed it. We have some ideas. There's a reason for it. There's no excuse for it. We don't accept excuses. We locate the reasons and try to fix the reasons why we're not in the top five every week and one of the cars should be. The other two shouldn't be out of the top 15 with the resources we have to work with. Sometimes we try so hard with our bodies and we've got to keep chasing our horsepower band to see where it needs to be. We're making great horsepower. Our bodies are good. There's balance factor between the crew chief and driver. Last weekend at Michigan, Kevin ran up there in the top five almost half of the race. We made one small adjustment on the car and got lapped. Those are the things we've got to fix."
Q: WHAT DO YOU SEE IN ROBBY GORDON THAT NOBODY ELSE IN THE WINSTON CUP GARAGE WAS ABLE TO SEE?
"If you go in that garage area, there aren't many drivers that have that much talent. He is one of the most talented drivers that I've ever seen in my many years of racing. I think the thing is that Robby needed someone to help explain Winston Cup racing. Robby is a very intelligent person. He's extra intelligent, probably, for a race car driver. Because of that, he likes to see things done and done right. I think he has struggled in the past with the way things were done. We just have a good working relationship and the main thing is that both of us have respect for each other."
Q: WITH THE CHANGES OCCURING IN NASCAR ALMOST DAILY, DO YOU FEEL THAT NASCAR IS HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?
"I think most definitely. With the change that they made in the schedule, the tradition in the Southern 500 was big. I have signs in my organization here that say, 'change is opportunity'. I think we have to look at this change as an opportunity to grow our sport and go into a different market and bring in more places and to get us out of the southeastern hub. It's going to be very good for the sport. With some of the changes they've made with the templates and cars and rules, they'll catch up and help the car owner at the end of the day. But it seems like it's pretty expensive at the time."
Q: WITH TOYOTA COMING INTO TRUCKS AND DODGE BEING VERY INVOLVED, DO YOU SEE CHEVROLET GETTING BEHIND FACTORY-BACKED TEAMS IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
"I think you will more factory efforts going into the truck series because of the high pick-up truck sales. I think you're going to see Chevrolet step up with probably a more aggressive program than they have right now."
Q: ON MIKE SKINNER BEING RELEASED FROM MORGAN-MCCLURE?
"Mike has a tremendous amount of talent. I hope he lands on his feet somewhere with a really good race team. That situation that came about when we were in the middle of changing sponsors and they (Lowe's) wanted a younger driver at the time. But it wasn't anything to do with Mike Skinner's talent or anything else. It was what the sponsor was looking at from a marketing standpoint. He's still a fairly young driver compared to some of those guys driving these days."