3/14/2001 – Robby Gordon Readies Himself for “Track to Tough to Tame”


What are the things that concern you about the track at Darlington. Is it intimidating knowing it’s a track that favors experience?

“I guess the most intimidating thing about Darlington is the way you enter turn 1. It’s a big corner and the fast line unlike a normal corner is to be high in the middle. Sabco took me there in ’97 to test just so I could learn the way around it. The exit of turn two is pretty narrow and the way the banking is you have to turn down to exit, yet you’re still drifting towards that outer wall. It takes some getting used to, but you watch and follow other people and learn.”

Darlington has two distinctly different corners, making it difficult to set the car up for both. Do you favor one over the other, and why?

“Setting up for this track is a give and take scenario. You want the car to be a little tight in the middle of the corner and a little loose off. Not too tight in the middle though because with an abrasive track like they have up there if you squeeze it too tight the tires go off like butter trying to fight the exit. (David) Ifft has a lot of experience setting up cars at Darlington, so I’m hoping we can change the tide here a little bit and come out of the box pretty good. I’m looking forward to it.”

How important is horsepower at Darlington?

“Horsepower is not very important at Darlington. But that’s not a problem for the #4 car. If we need help it’s in the corners and Darlington is more of a handling track. That’s the thing, if we can get that side of the game tuned up a little bit better, the horsepower will only make us that much better.”

Does it make things tougher to have the practice, qualifying and happy hour all on Saturday, or do you enjoy the one-day schedule?

“I think it hurts us from a race team perspective. As a driver looking at the 36-race schedule, it’s better for home life because it gives us an extra day during the week. But I think it probably hurts us as a team trying to get everyone on the same page in such a short amount of time. We don’t have time to sit down at night and digest everything to try and make a situation better. There’s very little time between sessions now making it so much more important to roll off the truck well."

What was learned at Atlanta? Did you gain anything from running all day and trying different things?

“Well, we changed lines a lot out there and I think we probably learned more than anything how to drive a 20th-place car. I don’t mean that in a bad way either. It’s important to know all the animals. Now we know what that type of car is capable of. Hopefully some day when we need to pull a good day out of a bad morning we can look back and say we took that Atlanta car to the top-20 and scored some points. It doesn’t mean much to anyone right now, myself included, because we all want to come the track and run in the top-5. But you have to look back and say, “Hey, we improved – lets keep getting better.” Nobody is giving up over here; not me, not Larry or the rest of the team. And I assure you there is no better motivation on all sides than having to take provisionals. We’re all tired of that, it’s time to step it up.”





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©2001 Robby Gordon.