Teleconference: Robby Gordon

Robby Gordon, driver of the No. 7 Menards Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, was this week's guest on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Teleconference as he prepares for this weekend's Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway - the first of two road course events on the calendar this season.

Q: You were second in Sonoma in 2001, you won there in 2003, if you could just open up by talking about how confident you are when you go to Sonoma and later in the season to the other road course at Watkins Glen.

ROBBY GORDON: Our road race program has been good for the last five years. I know we only have a couple wins but we did finish second; I think we finished 12th or 13th at Sonoma. Just to get the facts straight, I am from Orange, California, instead of from Bellflower. That's just hometown.

Q: There was a lot of talk at Pocono how Denny Hamlin used video games to learn how to get around a track he had never seen, and he said that he plans to use the video games again this week to get ready for Sonoma. Have you ever used video games to help you do a lot of different types of racing?

ROBBY GORDON: I have played video games before, but I don't know how the drivers feel it could be the same on a video game to what we're racing this current day in NEXTEL Cup. I mean, when a 25 pound spring roller makes a difference on how the car handles, a video game would be pretty hard to learn and drive from. Hey, if it's working for him, maybe I need to take it up. But I haven't used it in the past, ever. I know we have simulation programs for setting up a chassis and stuff like that, that's the closest thing to a video game, but I don't know anything about the driving it to learn the racetracks.

Q: Do you think NASCAR champions have common traits and abilities, and can you identify a few?

ROBBY GORDON: Well, NASCAR champions, I'm sure they have the same common traits, and that's being a race car driver and someone that understands race cars really good and has been to the tracks enough to learn what it takes to competitive. I think the common traits that they all have is, you know, it's a team sport, and when they win a championship, they have a great team behind them. They have a good crew chief, they have a good pit crew, nowadays they have good engineering staffs.

The sport has changed, but at the same time, it's the same thing. It's still race cars, and it's getting the most out of the race car package that you can on every given Sunday, and the guy that does it the most consistent, wins, that's it. I think that the common themes they have is they have always been with a good team, it's not just one person on the team that makes a difference to win the championship.

Q: Going to a road course, do you think this might be a chance for your team to break out and really show what they have got?

ROBBY GORDON: Well, we've had some good runs this year. Unfortunately we haven't delivered when it came time to finish the race. You know, we had good runs, our mile and a half program has been pretty good, but then we have had some mechanicals that we've made some mistakes there and we've learned from those mistakes. You know, the road course, finished 18th last weekend, it's not that good, but when you look at it, there's 25 guys that can win on pretty much any given Sunday. Any time you can race inside the Top 10, you've got a shot at winning, and that's going to be finishing the race without any problems and if we do that we definitely have the potential of winning.

Q: ... (line drop) ... considering what they are up against as far as the technology and everything?

ROBBY GORDON: Well, you can call it a fluke if you want, but you can go back the other way and you can say that, like I said in one of the first questions, they are just race cars. And I think we try to out trick ourselves and overdo every piece of the equation. I mean, I'd be willing to bet that that race team has never saw a car in the wind tunnel. If they have, it has not been more than one or two times. It's a good, sound race car that had good mechanical grip – and that's a 1.3 mile racetrack?

Q: One and a half, I think.

ROBBY GORDON: That's quite an accomplishment. I think that's really, really cool. And I think, you know, for teams like myself, I know we won Busch races, I think it took us 20 races to win, and they did it in seven. And you know, it proves that if you do the basics right, you can still be competitive in this sport. You look at all of the tools and all of this things that these teams have today to go race the NEXTEL Cup, you don't need 90 percent of them, because it's more tools to get you in trouble with.

Q: As a follow up to that question a little bit, you know, the Cup guys, the drivers and the owners have kind of caught a lot of flak this year for the number of guys that have kind of come in and really kind of taken away your true Busch Series driver, per se. Do you think that's just because of, you know, the more lap time, because, you know, it's more sponsorship dollars that are out there? And do you see it hurting the series, or kind of what is your take on what everybody has said about that situation?

ROBBY GORDON: Well, I think it helps the series. You can't that I that having Kevin Harvick or Kurt Busch or whoever happens to drive on the Busch Series on any given Sunday; followers, as far as the followers who watch racing, you know, they watch because those guys are playing. What it does is it helps bring attention to the Busch regulars when they are there because they are racing against maybe some of the fans' heroes. You know, they are beating those guys or they are competitive against them.

I think without having the Cup guys there, obviously the attendance ratings and media following to that series will be less. And without that, that would be even less funding and sponsorship for the Busch regular teams as well.

Q: Do you think that really your true Busch Series driver is kind of almost a thing of the past, considering pretty much most of your teams, it's either a development driver from a Cup team or a Cup team coming down and just running some Busch races?

ROBBY GORDON: Well, David Gilliland, that's a pure Busch team that's up and running and now has won a race. Heck, I think it had HYPE on the hood of it, but it didn't have anything on the quarterpanels. That's just cool.

Q: You mentioned two or three of those things, that 90 percent were not needed. Can you give us an example of what those things are?

ROBBY GORDON: Where do I start? 400 employees, I think, what did they say, they had 17 people on their team completely? We look at our one Cup team right now, and I know they are not running a full season and that had a lot to do with it, but we are 50 something employees now at our place. I don't know, that's just – I think the true racers just came out in that deal there and that was just really cool.

You know, there are so many things and we talked about this, back at IndyCars, when you have engineers like we have in our sport today, it gives us so many tools to play with, and there's so many adjustments you can put on these cars to be competitive and to make the car do certain things as far as handling, etc. You know, you just – you've got to pick the right pieces and you've got to pick the right adjustments. And you can't get confused and think that the trick of the week is always going to make you faster and win races. You know, I'm sure that was pretty much a standard Hopkins chassis, I think TEI still uses Hopkins' chassis. I know RCR did and they win races, too. You know, there's a lot of things that you can do to get confused in the sport, as well.

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