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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Robby Gordon is one of the greatest drivers ever, except in NASCAR

Despite his lack of success in the #7 car (above) in the Cup series, Robby Gordon has overall racing credentials that are hard to match in the Cup garage.

Those who only follow NASCAR probably don’t know this, but Robby Gordon is one of the greatest racecar drivers ever.

That #7 car you see getting lapped every week in the Cup series is being driven by a man with more racing accomplishments than almost all of his competitors, with the exception of Tony Stewart and perhaps a couple others.

A true racer who is truly dedicated to racing and winning, and always hates to give up a spot (just ask any Cup star who has tried to lap him lately), Gordon hurried off to race off-road in the Baja 1000 immediately after the Homestead race ended last week. If he could race every weekend, he would. It’s what he does and he does it very well.

Robby, usually known in NASCAR circles as the “other Gordon,” is the only Gordon most people in the worldwide racing community usually mention when compiling a list of great overall driver talents. For those of you who already think I’m crazy because of Robby’s lack of success in Cup, here are some career stats for you that might change your mind:
-- 6 SCORE International (off-road) championships
-- 3 Baja 1000 wins
-- 3 Dakar Rally stage wins
-- 4 class wins in the 24 Hours of Daytona
-- 3 class wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring
-- 3 Sprint Cup wins
-- 1 Daytona Twin-125 win
-- 1 Nationwide win
-- 2 CART wins

No one can look at this list and say that Robby is anything but an ace in front of the steering wheel. He’s won in almost every area of motorsport all over the world. But you’ll notice a theme among his accomplishments … they usually involve right turns.

Since making his debut in NASCAR’s top series at the 1991 Daytona 500, Gordon has been in and out of the sport a few times, driving for many different teams (including filling in at Robert Yates Racing immediately after the death of Davey Allison). His most successful period came in the early part of the 2000s, when he drive for Richard Childress Racing and earned three victories.

One was the Thanksgiving week race in New Hampshire which had been postponed after the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001, and came after he bumped the other Gordon, who was still NASCAR's dominant driver at the time, out of the way to win. The other two came on more familiar territory, road courses, but Gordon seemed to have found a home at Childress and be on the road to stability at the Cup level.

But like any truly great racer, Robby is thickheaded and has certainly pissed off more than a few people in his career. Many feel he races overaggressively on the track, and one of his wins came after he raced then-teammate Kevin Harvick a little harder than teammates usually race these days. It’s safe to say the two of them weren’t exactly pals after that incident. Gordon has had run-ins with other drivers, too, including Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle, and was once parked for a Cup race after refusing to take a black flag thrown by NASCAR during a Nationwide race because he disagreed with the ruling.

In short, Robby is a hothead. That, my friends, is much of the reason he will never be as successful in NASCAR as his talent should take him. Being his boss is a chore, and that’s part of the reason he never stuck with one team for too long. From what I can tell, he's probably the only person he'll let tell him what to do.

Though I’m sure part of him wants to be a team owner, he also has to do that because he’s not a model employee and most teams don‘t want to take him on. Top teams like Hendrick, Roush and Gibbs don’t want someone like Robby around, because he’d likely upset their well-maintained apple cart.

In his current situation, owning his own team, Robby will never have any great success at the Cup level. It’s close to impossible in this new era of the superteam, a hard lesson Tony Stewart will learn in the 2009 season when he kicks off his first year as an owner/driver.

But I’d love to see Robby get a shot for one year in a truly great ride and see what he could do.

As far as pure racing talent, I’ll put him up against anyone in that garage -- including Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards -- and it would be interesting to see what he could do in equipment equal to what they drive.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicely written article - So true, so true. Would love to see Robby race the world best in equally prepared cars three races in each discipline Rally,Off-Road,Indy,F1,Dirt Sprint, Late Model, Nascar, - A authentic IROC.....Robby would dominate.

November 24, 2008 at 7:26 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RG may be a hothead on the track, but you won't find a driver more generous, gracious and friendly to his fans and the media.

November 24, 2008 at 11:43 AM 
Anonymous dawg said...

As NA$CAR learned after the nose fiasco, prior to Daytona.
He has a fan base WAY out of proportion to his accomplishments in NA$CAR.

That's because he has attracted loads of fans who are turned off by the politically correct, good little corporate soldiers. That today's NA$CAR drivers have become.

Robby, & Jim Bean are a perfect fit.

As difficult a time as they have had, coming to grips with the new car this season. He still finished ahead of the other single car teams. As well as some well financed cars, from multi car teams. To finish with a locked in spot for '09
Robby IS a maverick, & so are his fans. That's what makes the ride so interesting.


November 24, 2008 at 4:47 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How good would jeff be if he drove for a one car team and not for HMS the top team in nsacar. NOT VERRY GOOD AT ALL.

November 24, 2008 at 7:20 PM 

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