By admin | June 17, 2008
By Richard Allen
This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will make the venture to Sonoma, California for the first of two road course races this season.
Robby Gordon is one of the top road racers on the series, so this should be a week in which the pressure is off of him and his struggling team, right? Actually, the opposite is true.
Because this is a place where Gordon is supposed to do well the pressure is magnified. Not only is he supposed to do well this week, he must do well.
Those, like Gordon, who are good at road course racing only get two chances a year to take advantage of their talents. And more, because of Gordon’s poor showings of late he finds himself only 34 points ahead of the all important 35th place in the standings. Only the car owners who are in the Top 35 are guaranteed a starting spot in the field every week.
This race provides Gordon with one of the few chances he will have to put some breathing room between himself and that cut off line. So, again, he must do well this weekend.
To add to the pressure is the fact that even though Gordon is one of the more accomplished road racers in NASCAR he has had difficulty translating that into good finishes at the California track. His average finish at the Infineon Raceway is only 20.7. He has had one win, two Top 5s and three Top 10s. He has also had four finishes out of ten total races of 34th or worse.
To have one of those 34th or worse finishes this weekend could be disastrous for his small, one car operation. Considering the inconsistency of his oval track runs this year he must come out of this race with a significant lead over the 35th place car owner in the standings.
Robby Gordon is known for being a hard charging, gambler in a race car. However, when the end of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 approaches Gordon may be forced to consider what is more important for his team, securing a solid finish or going all out for a win with the possibility of taking himself out.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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