By admin | February 19, 2008
Robby Gordon defies the odds
By Richard Allen
Did you realize there were just as many teams from Robby Gordon Motorsports to finish in the Top 10 in Daytona as there were teams from Hendrick Motorsports?
The 50th running of the Daytona 500 was supposed to be dominated by the super teams like HMS, and for the most part it was. However, someone forgot to tell lone wolf Robby Gordon that he was not supposed to play anything more than a field filler role. His solid finish in NASCAR’s elite event no doubt caught more than few fans and “experts“ alike by surprise.
Just days prior to time for teams to load up and head for Florida Gordon announced that he had entered into a partnership with Gillett-Evernham Motorsports, a Dodge team, for the upcoming season. This coming after he had tested Fords throughout the off season.
The suddenness of the change from Ford to Dodge became immediately apparent. Gordon’s #7 machine failed a pre race inspection for having an unapproved nose. Having only days to retool after changing manufacturers would have been a daunting task for any of the sport’s super teams, not to mention Gordon’s undermanned one car operation.
Eventually, the car was refitted and Gordon was able to start in the 26th position as a result of the finish in his qualifying race.
During the many hours of television, radio and written coverage leading up to the race Gordon showed up on no one’s radar screen.
Once the race began, however, the Jim Beam car steadily moved forward as Roush-Fenway Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing cars fell back. By the end of the race, perseverance, good pit strategy and maybe even a little luck allowed Gordon to drive to a strong 8th place.
While most of the up front racing this season will be conducted by drivers from NASCAR’s power players it is good to see someone who flies under the radar step up and grab a piece of the pie, and maybe cause those big teams to hire a few more engineers and spend a few more million on new equipment for their palace like garages.
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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