Robby Gordon, Mike Skinner teleconference transcript

NASCAR Winston Cup Teleconference Tuesday, August 07, 2001 This week's NASCAR Winston Cup Teleconference featured Robby Gordon and Mike Skinner, driver(s) of the No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Skinner is recovering from a broken ankle ...

NASCAR Winston Cup Teleconference
Tuesday, August 07, 2001

This week's NASCAR Winston Cup Teleconference featured Robby Gordon and Mike Skinner, driver(s) of the No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Skinner is recovering from a broken ankle suffered in the July 15th race at Chicago, and Robby Gordon has been the substitute driver while Skinner is on the mend. The upcoming round of racing is the Global Crossing at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 12. The following are highlights of the Teleconference.

Robby Gordon, from Cerritos, California, who has two fourth place finishes at Watkins Glen:

On starting last year's race in the 42nd spot
"We had a really good run last year. Unfortunately, we didn't have qualifying because of the weather. But I think we were the quickest car in at least one of the two (practice) sessions, maybe both. So we knew we had a good car, but came very close to going home. We were fortunate to get into the field because of the drawing position. We didn't run a full schedule last year."

You led 21 laps and finished 2nd at Sears Point earlier this year. What are your chances of winning at Watkins Glen?
"I think we have a good chance with team I'm driving for, Richard Childress Racing and Lowe's Improvement. We tested there last week and we were quite a bit under the track record with just our practice engine. We worked on both qualifying set-ups and race set-ups. I think we'll go back and be really strong."

What can you say about next year?
"Unfortunately nothing right now. Richard (Childress) and I haven't gone too far beyond this year. We've talked about a couple of things, but nothing's finalized yet."

Is this like a try-out for Robby Gordon?
"Good performances would mean the most to Richard Childress Racing and/or anybody else right now. I think this weekend will be another place for a good result. But then again, it's 120 laps and we've got to get through them clean."

How would you assess your first two runs with RCR?
"The first run at Loudon was really good, but our result didn't show it. We got lapped early. We made our lap up but then we got a penalty because we pitted a little too early. And so they moved us to the back of the longest line. We ended up finishing 25th there. But we had a good car there at Loudon.

"At Pocono, I was moving up in the beginning and got a little aggressive and knocked the front fenders in on the car. And with long straightaways like that, we paid the price in straightaway speeds."

What are the basic ingredients to be a successful road course racer?
"Road course racing is obviously a little different than the ovals. The biggest thing is experience. I've been fortunate enough to racing road races now for the past 12 or 13 years. I have a lot of experience on them. You have to drive a stock car different than an Indy car or a Trans Am car. They all handle different. It sounds crazy, but a road course is a lot like Bristol. You brake in a straight line, coast to the middle of the corner, and try to get on the gas as early as possible."

In what section of the Watkins Glen track do you really have to have your car hooked-up to do well?
"I'm giving some of my secrets away here, but if you can run wide-open going up the hill in turn three (the left-hander going up the S-turns), you can out-brake people into the chicane. Last year, we seemed to be really strong there. We were passing four or five cars there at a time and underbraking."

Given your road course experience and your relationship with RCR, do you anticipate helping Kevin Harvick this weekend?
"Obviously, we got into a little scuffle there at Sears Point, but I knew we would be racing in the Busch Series together and knew I could help him at Watkins Glen and I did. I went over and talked to him. At one point, he was almost two seconds a lap slower. (By) just talking him through a couple of the corners, he picked up over a second and a half. But he's going to be in this weekend's race (too), so I've got to be careful how I talk to him."

Does Watkins Glen suit your style more than Sears Point?
"I think Watkins Glen is actually a little easier to drive than Sears Point. It doesn't have that long, continuous s-turn section where you have to be spot on your line. At Watkins Glen you can mess-up a little bit and still turn a fast lap. They are different."

Mike Skinner, who broke his ankle in a crash at Chicagoland Speedway and hopes to resume his driving duties in the No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo at the Michigan race August 19:

On his visit to the doctor this morning?
"Tomorrow will be three weeks since my surgery. I mentally want to heal this thing is three days. But broken bones and bones that they have to put screws in with surgical procedures take six to eight weeks to heal. The doctor's comment this morning was that my ankle is ahead of schedule. He was very impressed with the way it looked. The swelling was down. There's a little concern with my knee. But we're starting therapy on that today. I look to be at the car in Michigan. I plan to run in the Busch race and the Cup race. We've got a little bit of time until then to just keep getting better and better. My big concern is to get to Bristol. But we've got a lot of days until then."

Can you comment on the rumor that Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, getting involved in racing next year and the possibility that Richard Childress would field a fourth car?
"I think that's a little far-fetched because I think that Richard has made commitments to both sponsors in the Busch Series. I think if he was going to quit running in the Busch cars, I don't think that would be out of the scope of possibilities. I can't speak for Richard, but I think at this point in time I would be surprised if he did four Winston Cup cars - as soon as next year anyway."

What is your feeling about getting back into the car again after an accident at such high speeds?
"I have no feeling about it. It's no different than a football player blowing his knee out or something and going through healing. You're going to cut on it just as hard, you're going to play just as hard. You can't wait to get back there. I think one of the reasons I'm healing as fast as I am is that I can't wait to get back in that racecar. Most athletes are driven to do what they do. When they get injured - if they're true athletes - can't wait to get back to doing whatever it is whether it's driving a racecar or shooting baskets."

Can you describe what you've been doing in the way of therapy?
"Basically, the doctor has me doing 'no weight' exercises with my ankle. We've tried to keep the knee as immobile as possible. With me wanting to get better and pushing it as hard as I can, I threw one crutch away a week ago, and I'm walking around a lot - probably 80% of the time - with no crutches at all. And then I'll use a crutch part of the time. I'm just pushing it as hard as I can. You sacrifice. You're in a little bit more pain and have a little more swelling by doing that, but I'm giving all the rest of the things around it a chance to heal. But bone obviously takes six to eight weeks (to heal), so there's not much we can do about that."

What do you mean by 'no weight' exercises?
"The therapy I've been doing has been more stretch exercises to get more mobility back into it. We're not pushing a lot of weight with the ankle. The knee has needed some down-time. We're just starting today on some quad exercises and trying to get both sides of my leg back in shape and start exercising the knee a little bit. We've tried to keep the knee as immobile as we can because it needs an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament ) surgery. Obviously we don't have four to six months to do that. A lot of people get by without an ACL. We're trying to get the rest of it around it tightened up the best we can before we get back in the racecar."

With an uncertain status for next year, do you feel added pressure to get back in the car?
"The pressure that I'm putting on myself to get back in that racecar is not so much in fear of whether I'm going to be in that car next year or not, it's the fact that we've really run good the last two or three races. And circumstances have not put the finishes up there. We were running in the top five in Chicago when the right front tire blew. We were running in the top five in the Pepsi 400 and had been running second most of the night when we got wrecked from behind trying to come into the pits. We can't do anything about circumstances out of our control. But what was in our control was that the racecar was competitive and we were running well. There's always fuel to the fire to get you back in the racecar."

How strange is it not to have an ACL on your knee?
"Well, I don't say that you don't need one. You can get by without one. It's a little bit different. Obviously, I had ACL problems before (the wreck at Chicagoland). They scoped it. They did a procedure on it that they thought would help it and tighten it back up. I don't know - and I don't think anybody knows - if I completely tore it in this past accident or if the procedure that we did before didn't hold up. I might have hurt it getting in or out of bed, I don't know. But the ACL was totally gone. There was nothing there at all. But we've been getting by with a bad ACL just fine. We go through a lot of pain when we go to Bristol, Martinsville, road courses, stuff like that. It's very hard. I actually talked to Ricky Craven at Indy (Brickyard 400 last weekend) who has had that surgery. He said that before the surgery it was the same thing - a lot of pain. After the surgery and after all the rehab to get it back 100%, it's very successful after this surgery."

Are there any concerns about doing more damage to the knee by getting back into the car?
"I don't think we can do any more damage than what's there. So, not really. The only thing that I'm going to work on trying to do - and I used to be pretty good at it - is right-foot brake when I can (at certain tracks). I think that will give me a little time on it. If it continues to give us problems, then the next day after the last race we'll get in there and do surgery and try to get back as quick as we can."

Mentally, how do you get through this time when you can't get back in the car and you watch somebody else in your seat?
"It's been frustrating. There's good and bad to it. The bad part is watching my car go around there and knowing how good we had been running the past few weeks. The No. 21 (Busch Series) car has won a race - Jeff Purvis won a race with them - and we had been knocking on the door. Matter of fact, we finished second in our last time out with the car. So I'm happy for that race team. The No. 31 team has struggled. They've had a hard time. Robby (Gordon) has done a good job for us. He's trying to keep the cars in one piece for us and get all the points they can get as far as owner points go. I look for good things out of it this weekend at Watkins Glen. I'm sure it'll be their best run. It's hard I'm not going to lie to you. I want back in that racecar and I can't wait to get there."

Can you pick-up on your momentum when you get back in the car?
"In all honesty, it'll probably take a couple of weeks to get into a rhythm where we can be okay with it. But, hopefully not. I'm planning on going to Michigan with the thought of winning the race - actually winning both races. If I didn't think that we had a chance, I wouldn't even go. But it wouldn't surprise me to see it take a couple of weeks to really get things going."

-GM Racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Robby Gordon , Jeff Purvis
Teams Richard Childress Racing