Atlanta, Georgia. (March 10, 2000) Â It's a little known fact, but Robby Gordon has raced stock cars twice in his career at Atlanta, sitting on the pole both times. The first pole came in a 1990 ARCA race driving for car owner Junie Donlavey. It...
Atlanta, Georgia. (March 10, 2000) It's a little known fact, but Robby Gordon has raced stock cars twice in his career at Atlanta, sitting on the pole both times. The first pole came in a 1990 ARCA race driving for car owner Junie Donlavey. It was Gordon's first race ever in a stock car. The latter pole came in Winston Cup competition in 1997 with Sabco Racing. This year Gordon brings his own car to Atlanta Motor Speedway, the Menards/Duracell Ford Taurus, but with the same vision as in past visits.
"The first time I came to Atlanta back in 1990, I didn't know any better than to just stand on the gas," said Gordon, who finished 14th in his pole-winning Winston Cup appearance in 1997. "The car was good and I just hung it out. Now 1997 was a little bit different. There were a lot of people on the team that felt the car we took wasn't capable of even making the race, much less sitting on the pole. But I knew it was a good car from the seat of my pants.
"This weekend we're bringing out a new car, it's the first in a line of many that we will have built completely in house, from scratch. I'm excited, I think it'll be a good race car for us; from a quality and attention-to-detail perspective it's top notch and that's important in this game. Our goal is to have all our cars as close in quality as possible."
This type of thinking was a big reason for Gordon's decision to form Team Gordon and venture on his own into NASCAR with help from co-owners Mike Held and John Menard.
"He has a surprisingly good knack for knowing how to make a car faster," explained Held, who began working with Gordon as his business manager in late 1997. "He's won races and championships in off-road competition with his own teams for years, and I'm not talking about picnic-table racing either. He knows a little about this game."
That being said, Gordon relishes the opportunity to show the world what his team and his ability are capable of doing for the long haul. And while the short term has been successful in the eyes of most, Gordon isn't content with the team's performance to date.
"Right now I could sit here and tell you I'm not satisfied," said Gordon, currently 22nd in the points standings through three races. "This is where the racer in me comes in. We had a chance at Daytona to finish in the top-ten. This last weekend at Las Vegas we had a car good enough for the top-five. Instead we ended up 18th and 13th at those races. As a young team we're still experiencing those teething problems that the top teams have sorted out. They're somewhat to be expected, but at the same time, we need to eliminate mistakes of any kind. I realize we're new and nobody expects much from us, but I do. I hate to see opportunities to win pass by regardless of the situation. But I am pleased overall, I don't mean to sound negative. This team has really accomplished something and I'm proud of it. We said last year at a November press conference in Atlanta we were coming down here to be a Winston Cup team. We've achieved that goal. Now it's time to say, 'next.'"
Gordon's chances of winning a third consecutive pole at Atlanta this weekend are probably not great. Team Gordon took part in a two-day test at Atlanta Motor Speedway less than two weeks ago, but that does nothing to diffuse the fact that Winston Cup competition is extremely fierce. Gordon claims he'd be happy just to continue his streak of qualifying in the top-25 this season.
"It's much more realistic for us to concentrate on making it in the show on Friday rather than try and win a pole," said Gordon who last week qualified a season-high 12th in Las Vegas. "Having all day Saturday to make a better car for the race is extremely important for Team Gordon right now. We've been fortunate in the beginning of the season to make the races in that first day and not worry about scrambling Saturday for a quick setup. Using Vegas as an example, we threw a ton of experimental setups at the car Saturday knowing we were safely in the race. None of them worked as well as what we ended up with Friday, but that's the key now we know. Not having years of experience and a book of setups, the information we gain in practice is gold to us." k