Gordon Hopes Twice Is Nice

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CONCORD, N.C. – Tony Stewart didn’t want to do it so he could concentrate on winning the Winston Cup title. John Andretti wanted to do it, but his car owner said no.

That leaves Robby Gordon. Quietly, at least compared to Stewart’s attempt last year, Gordon is preparing to be the third driver to race in Memorial Day’s Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600.

But Gordon wants to do what the Stewart couldn’t do and Andretti didn’t come close to doing: win. And then win again.

Is he dreaming? Has his cell phone rang in his ear too long? Win the Indy 500 and then the Coca-Cola 600? Maybe fumes have gotten in his brain.

Gordon, though, believes he can accomplish what would be sports’ greatest double-double.

“I have a really great shot at winning both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 for (sponsor) Cingular,” Gordon said. “Team Menard is on top of their game on the Indy-car side. They’ve had some strong runs this season and have been knocking on the door of a win. When you put my experience in the Indy 500 in there with John Menard’s team and Richard Childress’s experience as an owner, you can’t go wrong.”

As for the 600, Gordon is taking the same car he ran well in The Winston last weekend, so he’s confident he’ll be up front this weekend.

“Once we made a couple of slight adjustments, the car was a rocket,” Gordon said. “Plus, it makes a world of difference to race a car that you’ve already got information on. We made it all the way to the third segment of The Winston in this car and have a lot of notes on it. We saw what the Cingular Wireless Chevrolet is going to do on long runs, so I feel pretty confident that we’ll have a great race car and know how to adjust on it when it needs a little help.”

He hopes, though, that neither his car nor his body will need much help. Three years ago, when Stewart completed his first double-double, he wasn’t in the best physical condition and faded late in the 600 because he was worn out.

Gordon said he’s in good-enough shape to complete all 1,100 miles of driving and all the travel that goes with the races.

“Sunday is going to be a huge day for me but I think I’m ready for it,” Gordon said. “I’ve been working with Richard Childress Racing’s trainer a bit and he’s given me plenty of fluids and special energy drinks to prepare me. But I’ve been sick with a cold for about a week ago and put on about four pounds because I couldn’t work out much. But I still feel good and healthy. Getting a good night’s sleep on Saturday is going to be very important for me, and the RCR team doctor is going to fly from Indy to Charlotte with me to make sure I get IVs if needed.”

Gordon has a bit of history on his side. He’s driven in the Baja 1000 earlier in his career, a grueling off-road endurance race.

“The Baja is a survival race and there is no break,” Gordon said. “But you’re not up on the wheel all day in the Baja like you are in the Winston Cup or the Indy race. The Coca-Cola 600 is also a survival race. It’s a survival race for the cars because if anything on the car is going to blow up or fall off, you usually see it happen in the 600.

“But it’s also a survival race for the drivers because it’s such a long race, and it’s usually hot at Charlotte, although we didn’t see that last week in The Winston. It’s hard for drivers to feel good for the whole 600 laps and to be up on the wheel if the race goes green for a long time. That’s a lot of laps around there but it’s all about your mindset and how well you can keep your attention trained on what you’re doing.”

Gordon has been accused in the past about having a short attention span, as he’s bounced from ride to ride and series to series. But he said he’s ready for this particular challenge.

“People keep asking me if I’m worn out yet,” Gordon said. “Yeah, it’s been very busy this month, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It has been so much fun for me to go back and forth between the Indy car and the Cingular Chevy on the Cup side. I enjoy both teams, and both teams have the same goal of performance in mind.

“I want to win both races, and we know we can do it. I’ve got the right people and equipment lined up. It’s just a matter of putting the pieces together on Sunday, and of course, praying it doesn’t rain at Indy. But we’re planning to win both and we’re going to give it our best shot.”

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