Mcclure Rolls The Dice

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Of the things to look forward to in the coming year in Winston Cup racing, one of the highlights will have to be the relationship between Robby Gordon and Larry McClure.

At the end of last season, McClure announced that Gordon will replace Bobby Hamilton in the No. 4 Chevrolet - a car that won races in the past with Hamilton, Sterling Marlin, and Ernie Irvan. In the days before multicar superpowers like Hendrick and Yates and Roush, the Morgan-McClure flag waived proudly.

I'm not saying desperate times call for desperate measures… well, yes, I am gonna say desperate times call for desperate measures.

Robby Gordon? This is the ultimate gamble. Well, depending on the length of the contract, it might not be the "ultimate" gamble, but it's a gamble. Robby has won everywhere this side of NASCAR and the three-legged sack race at the county fair (and the egg-and-spoon relay at the company picnic, but that's not sanctioned).

Problem is, he's never stayed anywhere very long. Some of that isn't his fault, but you have to imagine that some of it is. There are two sides to every story, but after a while, it seems like Robby has fought more battles than Yasser Arafat.

NASCAR fans mostly remember his short-lived 1997 season running for car owner Felix Sabates, but Robby has also been in and out of several Indy-car rides. And there was his failed attempt to get his own Cup team off the ground last year. Yes, it got off the ground, but it didn't clear the trees, and was eventually crippled by the always-deadly "lack of sponsor" virus.

It's all quite a shame, really, because Robby has a reputation for being one of the more talented all-around drivers in North America. He's certainly among the most diverse, having raced in deserts, on mountains, streets, and around ovals and road courses.

But he also has another reputation, as a guy who doesn't stay anywhere too long. Now he gets another chance - with a team that, given its independent status, probably has a better history than future. But when you're Larry McClure, you might as well gamble. The Winston Cup deck is stacked against guys like McClure, so why not try drawing to an inside straight?

In the early days, anyway, everyone is saying all the right things. Thankfully, you have me to interpret. For instance.

Says McClure: "We were looking for someone just like Robby."
What he means: "Except, of course, we wanted someone who came with a mute button."

Says McClure: "We looked at a lot of people and interviewed some good drivers, including some drivers who might have been a safer bet. The skill level, enthusiasm, youth and aggressiveness of Robby kind of won out."
What he means: "It was Robby or Rick Mast. I mean, come on, you make the call."

Says McClure: "He's got tons of talent, and with our experience, I think it will complement his talent and we can win races."
What he means: "Our sponsor loves that kind of talk."

Says McClure: “Robby has been successful in other types of racing. We have the experience in winning Winston Cup races, and we just thought that Robby was the breath of fresh air we needed."
What he means: "Are you SURE Ernie can't still drive?"

Says crew chief David Ifft: "With the knowledge I have, I think I can help Robby. He steps on the gas, and that's the kind of guy I want."
What he means: "He can step on the gas all he wants, but as soon as he starts stepping on toes, it's right to the IRL for him."

Says Robby Gordon: "If you look at the teams that have won races and the races they have won... there was no other real opportunity that I thought I could win races with."
What he means: "What, you didn't really expect me to get back together with A.J., did you?"

Says Gordon: "I had my race team and we thought we knew how, but we didn't get to victory lane. These are people who know how to get to victory lane."
What he means: "Yeah, and NASA knows the directions to Venus. Try getting a flight there."

Says Gordon: "I told Larry to check around, and if there's somebody else, if I'm not the guy, I understand. He came back and said he was excited to have me drive his car, and I'm excited to be here."
What he means: "Get back with me in a month."

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