On The Road With Robby Gordon

Valeri KolessarCorrespondent IJune 18, 2009

CONCORD, NC - MAY 21: Robby Gordon, driver of the #7 Jim Beam/Operation Home Front Toyota, stands on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 on May 21, 2009 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

On the road or off-road, it matters not to Robby Gordon as long as he’s competing. While most NASCAR drivers take time out on their days away from the track to indulge in hunting, fishing or family activities, Robby’s searching out the next venue to drive the wheels off of whatever vehicle he can hop into. The guy’s a winner in almost every racing series that runs on motor. He’s finished P1 in Motorcross, CART, IMSA, and Trans-Am with 2nd place finishes in five of his eight IROC starts. He led the 1999 Indianapolis 500 for 33 laps before running out of fuel on the last lap to finish fourth.

Impressive? You bet. But it’s Off-Road where Robby reigns supreme. Winner of five consecutive SCORE Off-Road championships (six overall), Robby has three coveted Baja 1000 and four Baja 500 overall victories to his credit. He finished the grueling 2008 Dakar Rally 2nd overall, and was the first American to win a stage at the 2005 event.

So it comes as no surprise that he’s among the favorites to win this weekend’s first road course event of the season at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.

In a recent interview on Speed TV’s Trackside, Robby summed up his strategy for the 2009 racing season. He started testing his road course program at Road Atlanta in early May. They were very good, and went testing every single week for the entire month.

“Taking Kyle Busch out of the equation, there’s 20 guys who can win races on any given weekend. When you go to a road course there’s seven of us, maybe five.” said Robby. “If we can be prepared and focused and have a 20% shot of winning that race, and have all our I’s dotted and cross our T’s, we’re going to go for it.”

Winner of the 2003 event at Infineon, Robby knows a little bit about conquering this 1.99 mile road course. It was one of three wins the driver earned while racing for Richard Childress Racing. His other two victories came at New Hampshire and Watkins Glen.

Robby is in a class of his own on the NASCAR circuit. He left RCR to become an owner/driver in 2005, just as the sport was entering the era of mega teams. Robby’s remained competitive despite team disparity, and remains the only bona fide owner/driver in the sport. There are others holding the same position, Michael Waltrip built his team from the ground up with substantial help from Toyota. And Tony Stewart’s success sprang from acquiring an existing team complete with Hendrick chassis and engines. Gordon builds his own equipment with substantial help from, well… himself. He’s focused on doing it his way.

Just like he’s focused on winning at Sonoma. The rest of the field better watch out.