Q: IS ROBBY GORDON MOTORSPORTS READY FOR THE CHALLENGES OF INFINEON THIS WEEKEND? A: I think that we are. I think that we had a real good test a few weeks back when we went to Atlanta (Road Atlanta) right before the All-Star Race. We had a...
Q: IS ROBBY GORDON MOTORSPORTS READY FOR THE CHALLENGES OF INFINEON THIS WEEKEND?
A: I think that we are. I think that we had a real good test a few weeks back when we went to Atlanta (Road Atlanta) right before the All-Star Race. We had a good test at Road Atlanta and I think that what we learned there was very similar to what we had last year in Sonoma. There was a bunch of good teams there and I think that our car drove well, and at the same time, feel like we were competitive to the other cars. Obviously, you really don't know how you stack up until practice starts on Friday, but I think that we are going to be good.
Q: TELL US ABOUT AN ALL-BLACK CAR (NO SPONSORSHIP) THIS WEEKEND IN SONOMA?
A: It surprises me that we have an all-black car, especially with our record on the road courses and how competitive we were last year at Sonoma. It probably shows you how tough the marketplace is out there right now as far as people spending money going racing and using it as a marketing outlet. We (RGR) probably didn't knock on the right doors as a company. We do have a marketing relationship with Gillett Evernham. I don't know how we've gone this far down the road with an open car (no sponsorship this weekend) on the No. 7 car.
Q: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT STRATEGY THIS WEEKEND AT SONOMA?
A: It's a pretty simple strategy; go (to Sonoma), sit on the pole and win the race. I think that is the strategy that you have to have going into a race like this. With a team like ours, I think that our road course stuff is as good as anybody's. Obviously the test has gone well. I've got a lot of confidence in what we do. Last year, the only reason that we lost the race is because we couldn't get the fuel mileage. It was stop on this lap or run out of fuel because we couldn't make it (to the end) from when the caution came out. The other guys made it and we just purely got beat on fuel mileage last year.
I know that Gillett Evernham has good engines. I know that they're working hard on their fuel mileage program. Kasey (Kahne) finished second last weekend at Michigan purely on fuel mileage which is a sign of good things for this weekend.
Q: DO YOU THINK REGULAR CUP DRIVERS HAVE ENDED THE THEORY THAT ROAD COURSE DRIVERS LIKE BORIS SAID OR RON FELLOWS HAVE AN ADVANTAGE?
A: I think that if you go back and look at the 'road race aces' that they call them, I don't think they've won Cup races, even when I would go and show up. I think the reason why is that they aren't playing every weekend. The pit crews may not be as good, whatever it may be. I think that a team that races every week has a better opportunity.
Q: WHAT ARE DRIVERS TOLD IN THE DRIVER'S MEETING ABOUT PASSING THE PACE CAR?
A: I'd rather not comment on that one. We'll let someone who finished 2nd or 3rd comment on that one. When you finish 40th, you don't worry about it.
Q: CAN YOU GIVE A SNAPSHOT OF HOW BAD THE ECONOMICS ARE FOR RACE TEAMS RIGHT NOW?
A: I think if you look at our exposure on our website, we had over three million hits of exposure just on our race forecast from last year. Not only with the print media and everything that went on with last year's event, it just shows that the marketplace is a little bit soft. At the same time, Robby Gordon Motorsports probably didn't push hard enough to let everyone know that opportunities (sponsorship) where available early enough. We have to step-up and deal with it. I think the biggest thing is that we'll show how good our race team is this weekend and sponsors will know that there is an open opportunity here.
Q: ARE ENERGY EXPENSES (TRANSPORTATION, FUEL, ETC.) DRIVING YOU CRAZY AS A TEAM OWNER?
A: The additional expense of fuel is affecting everybody. But when you look at it on your expense chart, at the end of the day, the fuel doesn't even show up on our radar screen in terms of expenses. It's so far down. Salaries, engines, building facilities and things like that show up way before fuel costs. Our fuel costs are probably in the hundreds of thousands and not millions of dollars.
Q: WILL KASEY KAHNE'S RECENT SUCCESS BENEFIT YOUR TEAM?
A: Obviously they're hitting on it. They've done really good on 1.5-mile tracks and some of that success does pass down to us. On the other side of it, you look at last weekend and early on in the race, we passed Kasey and then we broke a shock piston. That's where our day went in the wrong direction. And it went in the wrong direction on lap five. That's where as a team, we're really focusing in on our reliability and making sure we don't have part failures that will take you out of a race or take you out of being competitive. Then you'll scratch your head and think that you can't even drive a racecar anymore when you have too many things like that happen in a row.
Q: DO YOU FEEL LIKE ROAD COURSE 'EXPERTS' FINALLY REALIZE THAT SPRINT CUP DRIVERS ARE GOOD RACERS?
A: If you go back just a couple of years and identify the guys who have won races, it comes down to Jeff (Gordon), Tony (Stewart) and me. Those are the guys on the road courses that are going to be the most competitive guys. Juan Pablo (Montoya) won it (last year's race) on fuel mileage.
Everyone said what a great job he did last year, but he had a 15th place car last year and just happen to get better fuel mileage than everybody else. I don't even look at him as being a threat as much as I do with Jeff or Tony.
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE MARCUS ABROSE'S BIGGEST ADJUSTMENT IN HIS FIRST CUP RACE THIS WEEKEND AT SONOMA?
A: I don't know if it will be his debut because he did practice and try to qualify with my car last year. Unfortunately, it (qualifying) got rained out. He would have made the show real easy at Watkins Glen. He's a good driver. He's going to be really fun to race with. I feel pretty confident that if they don't make any mistakes, he'll make the show. (Marcus) making the show sends somebody else home and it's going to be another interesting Friday.
Q: WHAT ARE YOU NATIONWIDE PLANS REGARDING WATKINS GLEN AND MONTREAL?
A: Right now, we've got two cars set up for Watkins Glen. I'd love to go to Montreal, but that's another open inventory race. It's not 100% guaranteed that we are going to go to that event because of sponsorship. The cars are done. Stuff is going to be ready to go the very next week. I'd like to run Montreal that weekend because I won the race last year. I know it doesn't show it in the record books, but we won Montreal last year. It is a place that we run good at so, we'll see what happens. Chicago and Watkins Glen are the two guaranteed Nationwide races for the rest of the year.
Q: HAVE YOU TALKED TO THE PROMOTER AT MONTREAL ABOUT AN EFFORT TO GET YOU UP THERE FOR THE RACE?
A: I've had a few conversations with Steve O'Donnell of NASCAR. He's asked a couple of times, "Hey, are you running that event?" Obviously it was exciting for everybody there; an unfortunate outcome with the circumstances at the end. As far as a race team, we had the fastest car there all day long. We never got the opportunity to show it until the last couple laps. I think at the end of the day, I'd like to go back there because we should have won Montreal. We didn't get the trophy. Hopefully we'll go back and see if we can get another one.
Q: IS YOUR TEAM STABLE ECONOMICALLY? WILL YOU NEED TO LAY ANY TEAM MEMBERS OFF?
A: We haven't laid anybody off and we won't lay anybody off. When we started the season this year, we knew what we had for a budget and we knew what we had for sponsorship. The guy who really suffers at the end of the day is the driver. If I had to pay a driver 'X' million dollars a year to drive the thing, then we'd be in trouble. But I have that 'slush fund' there, being the driver and the owner, which I can operate with. It hurts us, but it doesn't kill us.
Q: WHERE ARE THE EASIEST AND TOUGHEST PLACES TO PASS AT INFINEON THIS WEEKEND?
A: The best passing lane is qualifying. If we can qualify on the front row like we did last year that makes the rest of the day pretty easy provided you get the fuel mileage. Turn 11 is probably the easiest place to pass. Turn 7 is a good place. You can get guys going into Turn 6. Those are the three opportunities that you have.
You have three opportunities to pass people at Sonoma; you just don't have that at other racetracks. Even at Montreal, it was hard to pass. You've got a couple good passing opportunities only if you had a good run off of somebody (at Montreal). Where at Sonoma, there's pretty good straight line hard braking zones that you can put a pass on a guy.
Q: HOW FRUSTRATING IS IT WHEN A RACE COMES DOWN TO FUEL MILEAGE AND IT'S NOT ABOUT WHO HAS THE BEST CAR?
A: When you're on the losing end of it, it's a bummer. When you're on the winning end of it, it's great. That's just part of the deal. Dale Jr. won the race this weekend; it was another fuel mileage race. They conserved fuel and they did what they needed to do. It is what it is. It's all strategy. The guys who have the best plan, starting early in the race when it comes to fuel mileage, are guys that are able to capitalize on it. They did a good job and out-smarted everyone else and still have the trophy. That's the most important thing.
Q: WAS THE 2003 RACE AT INFINEON THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CUP CAREER?
A: No. I'm still going to put Loudon as our highlight because it happened on an oval and not a road course. I won a Shootout race in Daytona. We've run more ovals than road courses and everybody expects us to run good at road courses. I still think it comes down to having a plan and capitalizing on the plan. That's really what we've been working hard on with our race team, just making sure that we don't beat ourselves.
-credit: dodge motorsports