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3/8/2001 – Gordon Hopes Atlanta Can Turn Things Around

Robby Gordon has a short history with the Atlanta Motor Speedway, but it’s a decent one.

Up until last season, Gordon had never been to the Atlanta Motor Speedway and not started his car from the pole. In 1997, with Sabco Racing, Gordon secured the pole in just his fourth Winston Cup event after joining the series from the CART open-wheel series. Prior to that, Gordon was the pole-sitter in the only ARCA event he’s ever entered, in 1990 driving a Junie Donlavey prepared car.

Now, of course, all that came to screeching halt in last season’s first Atlanta event in which Gordon’s upstart Team Gordon outfit were forced to go home after rains washed away second round qualifying. But despite that disappointment, Gordon still places Atlanta high on his list of tracks that suit his style.

"Atlanta is a fast track, and even with its new configuration, it’s a place I feel confident walking in the door," explained Gordon, currently in the midst of a troublesome two-race run where he and the Morgan-McClure team have mustered 26th and 36th-place finishes at Rockingham and Las Vegas respectively. "Last season we came here with a new chassis and struggled. Really, that was the first race with what we later found to be a complete lemon. We had a truck arm hitting the underside of the car and it wiped away all our practice. We went home when the rains hit, even though we were pretty fast the second day. The whole experience just exists as a nightmare for me."

"But I still enjoy Atlanta as a driver’s track. I don’t know what we get up to on the straights, but it’s somewhere close to 200mph and that’s gettin’ it. Coming into town this weekend with Larry’s (McClure) horsepower, I imagine we’ll have a better showing than we have the last two weeks. Don’t we have to?! We’ve been focusing on handling since Rockingham and taking some fairly drastic measures to get us through the corners better and allow us to use the horsepower on exit. That’s the key, if we can get the power down hitting the straights we’ll be fine. And once we start to get over that hump I think you’ll see us run a lot better."

Better. It’s a good word that "better." Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say, and neither will be the chemistry nor performance of a race team with a new driver and new crew chief. But with persistence and a good blending of talents, things should come together sooner rather than later.

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©2001 Robby Gordon.